Brown lays out emergency drought legislation

Feb 19, 2014 5:10 PM

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez announced legislation in order to help California communities cope with the dry conditions of the state’s current drought.

“This is a call to action,” said Brown. “We must all do our part to conserve in this drought. The state is doing its part by providing immediate funding for drinking water, food, housing and assistance for water-conserving technologies.”

The legislation proposed by Brown and State Senate Democrats provides over $687 million in drought relief, including funding for housing and food for those directly impacted by the drought, bonds for future projects, and magae water and funding for securing emergency drinking water supplies.

An additional $1 million will also be dedicated for helping state and local conservation corps to assits with water efficiency upgrades and reduce fire fuels.

“Without enough rain and snow this winter, we need to capture as much water as we can through any means possible,” said Senate President pro Tem Steinberg. Water agencies around the state have projects ready to go to capture and distribute more of the water that’s now lost to evaporation or simply flowing out to the ocean. They simply need money to get those projects done. 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.”

The bill would also call for the California Department of Public Health to adopt new groundwater replenishments by July 1 of this year and for the State Water Resources Control Board and the DPH to work on additional measures to allow the use of recycled water and storm water capture to increase water supply availability. The bill is also expected to require statutory changes ensureing exiting water rights are followed, according to a statement issued by the Governor’s Office today.

Highlights of the legislation include the following:

· $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.

· $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.


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