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Accelerated Funding For State’s Water Woes

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Sacramento, CA — Governor Jerry Brown and Legislative leaders unveiled a proposed $1 billion emergency drought relief package this morning.  It calls for direct assistance to communities and workers impacted by drought, more water recycling, and flood protection projects.

Saying it is not a partisan problem, but a hydrological one, according to Governor Brown, who stated, “The problem will be met by pulling together.  This unprecedented drought continues with no signs yet of letting up.  The programs funded by the actions announced today will provide direct relief to workers and communities most impacted by these historic dry conditions.”

The water package speeds up spending of $128 million from the Governor’s budget for direct assistance to hard hit communities and implementation of the Water Action Plan.  Another injection of $272 million in Proposition 1 Water Bond funding for safe drinking water and water recycling and accelerates $660 million from the Proposition 1E for flood protection in urban and rural areas.

Republican Mother Lode Assemblymember and Water, Parks and Wildlife Vice Chairman Frank Bigelow had this reaction to the water package, “While this emergency drought relief legislation is a very important step, working Californians expect this legislature to solve real problems with real solutions.  The solution is simple.  We must plan for the long term and build Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat, which voters approved in 2014 with the passage of Proposition 1.  Drought relief is necessary, but above ground surface storage projects are the only way for California to secure its own water future.”

Here is the state Democratic Caucus’ breakdown of the proposed Water Package funding:

The approximately $1 billion in total funds includes:

  • $72 million General Fund
  • $272 million in Prop 1 Bonds
  • $660 million in Prop 1E
  • $57 million in various other funds

More specifically, these funds would be used to address the impacts of the drought in the following ways:

  • Emergency drinking water
  • Food assistance for 29 counties most impacted by the drought
  • Assessment of current surface and groundwater conditions and expedited water transfers
  • Drought response coordination
  • Water use efficiency grants for agricultural and urban water users
  • Emergency water supply and education
  • Water recycling and desalination efforts
  • Critical operations to protect fish and wildlife
  • Technical assistance for small and disadvantaged communities with drinking water needs – including a dedicated unit at the State Board to focus on disadvantaged communities

The package also advances over half of the remaining Proposition 1E funding.

Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen supported the plan saying, “This emergency drought relief is an important band aid.  We must move beyond temporary fixes.  Projects to increase water supply have been hung up in government red tape for decades.  I’m glad today we are making decisions that help people, and look to us all to take real actions on long term projects so emergency actions are no longer needed.”