Sacramento, CA — Governor Jerry Brown, flanked by other top California legislators, has proposed nearly $700 million in immediate help for communities coping with the drought crisis.
At a press conference today in Sacramento, Brown announced the money would support several areas of drought relief including capturing and managing storage of water. There is also funding for emergency drinking water supplies.
“This is a call to action. We must all do our part to conserve in this drought,” said Governor Brown. “The state is doing its part by providing immediate funding for drinking water, food, housing and assistance for water-conserving technologies.”
The legislation would also increase funding for state and local conservation corps to aid communities with efficiency upgrades and reduce wildfire fuels in fire risk areas. It also includes $1 million for the Save Our Water public awareness campaign designed to inform Californians how they can do their part to conserve water.
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says, “We don’t have to ignore environmental protections, raise fees or get bogged down in political arguments over projects that will take many years to produce a single drop of water. It’s time to focus on what we can do right now.”
Speaker John Pérez added, “By making smart use of these funds, we can alleviate and prevent some of the worst impacts of the drought and, at the same time, make badly needed improvements to our water system that will benefit California for years to come.”
In addition, the bill calls for the California Department of Public Health (DPH) to adopt new groundwater replenishment regulations by July 1, 2014. The DPH would also work with the State Water Resources Control Board to develop uses for recycled water and storm water to increase water supply.
The bill would strengthen existing water rights laws by streamlining authority to enforce water rights laws and increased penalties for illegally diverting water during drought conditions.
Here is the Governor’s outline of some of the legislation:
Enhancing Water Conservation and Improving Water Supplies
• $549 million from the accelerated expenditure of voter-approved bonds, Proposition 84 and Proposition 1E, in the form of infrastructure grants for local and regional projects that are already planned or partially completed to increase local reliability, including recapturing of storm water, expand the use and distribution of recycled water, enhance the management and recharging of groundwater storage and strengthen water conservation.
• $20 million transferred from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for direct expenditures and grants to state and local agencies to improve water use efficiency, save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from state and local water transportation and management systems.
• $14 million for groundwater management across the state, including assistance to disadvantaged communities with groundwater contamination exacerbated by the drought.
• $10 million transferred from the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fund for the California Department of Food and Agriculture to invest in irrigation and water pumping systems that reduce water use, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
• $10 million transferred from the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fund for the DWR to establish a grant program for state and local agencies to implement residential, commercial or institutional water efficiency projects that reduce water and energy use.
• $15 million from the General Fund for Emergency Drinking Water Fund to address emergency water shortages due to drought.
• $13 million from the General Fund to augment the California Conservation Corps and local community conservation corps to expand water use efficiency and conservation activities and to reduce fuel loads to prevent catastrophic fires.
Assisting Californians Disproportionately Impacted by the Drought
• $25.3 million from the General Fund for food assistance, which will be structured to maximize the potential federal drought assistance that can be provided to provide food assistance to those impacted by the drought.
• $21 million from the General Fund and federal funds for housing related assistance for individuals impacted by the drought.