The legislation provides about $687 million to assist communities affected by the drought, and to promote better use of local water supplies. It includes money for housing and food for workers directly impacted by the extremely dry conditions, and also provides $1 million for the Save Our Water awareness campaign.
But critics say it does nothing to fix the state's long-term water problems. Many are now calling for a comprehensive solution that includes more storage.
Press release from Gov. Jerry Brown's press office
SACRAMENTO -- As California grapples with the driest period in its history, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed legislation to assist drought-affected communities and provide funding to better use local water supplies.
"Legislators across the aisle have now voted to help hard-pressed communities that face water shortages," said Governor Brown. "This legislation marks a crucial step – but Californians must continue to take every action possible to conserve water."
The legislation had broad, bipartisan support. SB 103 passed 34-2 in the Senate and 64-3 in the Assembly. SB 104 passed 33-3 in the Senate and 68-1 in the Assembly. The bills provide $687.4 million to support drought relief, including money for housing and food for workers directly impacted by the drought, bond funds for projects to help local communities more efficiently capture and manage water and funding for securing emergency drinking water supplies for drought-impacted communities.
In addition, the legislation increases funding for state and local conservation corps to assist communities with efficiency upgrades and reduce fire fuels in fire risk areas, and includes $1 million for the Save Our Water public awareness campaign – which will enhance its mission to inform Californians how they can do their part to conserve water.
"Like the rain this weekend, this package is badly needed to help mitigate the effects of the historic drought California is facing. But also like the rain, we need to see more," said Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez. "That's why every Californian needs to continue to conserve water, and there's more work to do on storage, water quality improvement and environmental protections. If we don't act now, the problems we face will only get worse."
"Swift action is what's needed to make sure we get the most out of every drop of water, to help our hardest-hit communities and to give emergency help to those who have lost their jobs from this severe drought. That swift action is exactly what we've taken with these measures," said Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. "Neither the rain storms we're having now, nor this legislation will eliminate the drought and its impacts. 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."
In addition to the funding provided by the legislation, the bill calls for the California Department of Public Health (DPH) to adopt new groundwater replenishment regulations by July 1, 2014, and for the State Water Resources Control Board and the DPH to work on additional measures to allow for the use of recycled water and storm water capture for increasing water supply availability.
The bill also makes statutory changes to ensure existing water rights laws are followed, including streamlined authority to enforce water rights laws and increased penalties for illegally diverting water during drought conditions. The bill also provides the California Department of Housing and Community Development with the greatest flexibility to maximize migrant housing units. /p>
The Governor signed the following bills:
-- SB 103 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – Budget Act of 2013.
-- SB 104 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – Drought Relief.
For full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html.