Moving swiftly to help communities cope with California’s devastating drought and the ongoing effects of climate change, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed emergency legislation – AB 91 and AB 92 – that fast-tracks more than $1 billion in funding for drought relief and critical water infrastructure projects.
“This funding is just one piece of a much larger effort to help those most impacted by the drought and prepare the state for an uncertain future,” said Governor Brown. “But make no mistake, from Modoc to Imperial County, rain is not in the forecast and every Californian must be doing their utmost to conserve water.”
Governor Brown joined Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and Republican Leaders Assemblymember Kristin Olsen and Senator Bob Huff last week to announce agreement on the $1 billion legislation, which accelerates emergency food aid, drinking water, water recycling, conservation awareness, water system modeling, species tracking, infrastructure and flood protection funding. For full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/
Today’s announcement builds on unprecedented action from the State Water Resources Control Board over the past year to prohibit wasteful water use and encourage Californians to conserve. These emergency regulations – the most stringent statewide measures in California’s history – include strict limits on outdoor irrigation (two days a week in much of California), bans on hosing down outdoor surfaces, decorative water fountains that don’t recirculate water and car washing without an automatic shut-off nozzle and requirements that bars and restaurants only serve water upon request and hotels ask guests staying multiple nights whether linens and towels need to be washed.
The Governor has also taken critical steps to prepare the state for prolonged droughts, leading the campaign to pass Proposition 1, California’s $7.5 billion water bond, which won bipartisan approval in the Legislature and was approved overwhelmingly at the polls. The funds represent the most significant statewide investment in water supply infrastructure projects in decades – a package that includes surface and groundwater storage, ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration, and drinking water protection. Additionally, for the first time in California’s history, Governor Brown signed legislation creating a framework for local, sustainable management of groundwater, which accounts for about one-third of California’s water supply.
Over the past two years, state and federal water regulators have also limited water allocations from the State Water Project and Central Valley Project for agricultural users to historically low levels – between zero and 20 percent of contracted amounts and junior water rights have also been drastically curtailed. As growers grapple with these historically dry conditions, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has provided $10 million in grants to help implement more than 150 water conservation projects that will help save hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water statewide. An additional $10 million is expedited in this legislation to continue this program.
In addition to today’s funding, the state has committed more than $870 million in drought relief since last year to assist drought-affected communities and provide funding to better use local water supplies. Last month, Governor Brown met with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in Sacramento to announce nearly $20 million in federal drought relief for California’s Central Valley Project.
In December 2013, the Governor formed a Drought Task Force to quickly respond to the emerging drought impacts throughout the state. The following month, the Governor declared a drought state of emergency and the administration finalized a comprehensive Water Action Plan that charts the course for California to become more resilient in the face of droughts and floods moving forward. Later in 2014, the Governor issued executive orders to further strengthen the state’s ability to manage water and habitat effectively in drought conditions and streamline efforts to provide water to families in dire need.
Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste. Visit SaveOurWater.com to find out how everyone can do their part and Drought.CA.Gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.