California governor signs $687 million drought relief legislation

LOS ANGELES Sat Mar 1, 2014 8:46pm EST

California Governor Jerry Brown announces emergency drought legislation at the CalO ES State Operations Center in Mather, California, February 19, 2014. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

California Governor Jerry Brown announces emergency drought legislation at the CalO ES State Operations Center in Mather, California, February 19, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Max Whittaker

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday signed into law a $687 million drought-relief package to deal with a water shortage he has called the worst in the state's modern history.

"This legislation marks a crucial step - but Californians must continue to take every action possible to conserve water," Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement.

The largest share of the drought relief package - $549 million - comes from accelerated spending of bond money voters previously approved in two ballot propositions.

Those measures will fund storm water recapturing, expanded use of recycled water, better management of groundwater storage and stronger water conservation measures.

The legislation also has a program to deal with contaminants that become more concentrated in groundwater when less water is available to dilute them.

In addition, the legislation appropriates $25.3 million in food assistance and $21 million in housing assistance to people affected by the drought, such as farm workers who have lost employment in bone-dry agricultural fields.

While much of the United States has been pummeled by a series of snow storms, California in recent months has struggled with a drought that threatens to inflict the worst water crisis in recorded state history.

California grows half the nation's fruits and vegetables and is the top state by value of agricultural goods produced. Large-scale crop losses in the state could lead to higher consumer prices, especially for tree and vine produce grown only here.

A large winter storm soaked many parts of the state on Friday and Saturday, but officials said the precipitation would be too little to offset the ongoing drought.

"Obviously this rain helps, but we need a lot more to get caught up," said Carol Smith, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Oxnard just northwest of Los Angeles.

Some coastal and valley regions of Southern California and the state's Central Coast have received 4 inches of rain, with up to 11 inches in the mountains and foothills, according to the National Weather Service.

In this drought, Los Angeles has received less than 6 inches of rain since July 1, which is about half the normal amount over that time period, Smith said.

"Neither the rain storms we're having now, nor this legislation will eliminate the drought and its impacts," state Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat, said in a statement.

"But just like any amount of rain and snow will help, saving a year or even a few months in getting money out the door and getting water projects on-line can benefit California enormously," Steinberg said.

Brown and several top state lawmakers announced the drought-relief legislation on February 19. The two drought relief bills that make up the legislative package passed the California state Assembly and the Senate nearly unanimously.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, additional reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Missouri; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Comments (5)
umkomazi wrote:
politicalshaman wrote:
Putin is if anything a smart politician. He would not have made his moves if he did not believe he could pull them off. He knows Obama is a clown and can’t react with any sort of effective response here. The EU even more so, considering their ties to Russian resources.

Above all the UN itself and all of the ridiculous liberal socialists running the UN, the EU and the US are still in the same tired 90 year old belief that somehow thugs, tyrants and other countries who use violence cant be treatied with. Just because the liberals want everyone to be peaceful, does not mean they will. This ridiculous ideology of theirs has no effect on the violent thugs. They never understand their treaties and laws only affect countries which are not violent war mongering invaders. So all that happens is the weaken themselves and create conditions where a Putin can do basically whatever he wants. And he can, the UN, US and EU are too weak to do anything about it. Lets sit back and watch a repeat of what led up to WWII. Countries invading other countries while the rest of the world negotiates and wrings their hands in worry, pleading for it all to stop.

Wrong board! – Nothing to do with the drought!

Mar 02, 2014 9:54am EST  --  Report as abuse
Harry079 wrote:
Throwing in a big pile of money does nothing to deal with the present situation.

California over the years should have built 100′s of desalinazation plants along its coast so as not to be so dependent on the Colorado River system and annual rain/snow fall.

Besides of proving 1000′s of jobs there would never be a water shortage. The technology has been around for decades to produce enough fresh water for California’s needs. But hey, when God can provide what you need for free why worry about the future?

Politicians cannot only not think outside the box, the box is only something you fill will money that does nothing to solve your problems.

Mar 02, 2014 10:30am EST  --  Report as abuse
bigsurleo wrote:
Considering the situation we find ourselves in you would think that Fracking would be one of the first things on the table to be cut. We cannot afford to use any fresh water to frack the wells and we cannot afford to contaminate what little water we have. There should be no fracking, and no disposal of frack water allowed in california.

Mar 02, 2014 12:26pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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