Yesterday, facing the worst water shortage crisis in the state’s modern history, Governor Jerry Brown announced plans to introduce emergency drought legislation that provides $687.4 million for affected communities and workers. Joining the governor in his announcement in Sacramento was Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez.
Although the specific language in the bill is still being drafted by Senate staff, the proposed legislation makes millions available for conservation and drinking supplies for communities from existing bond funds, while also providing housing and food relief for impacted farm workers. The bill appropriates most of the remaining funding from a bond measure approved by the voters several years ago, Proposition 84, a measure that Western Growers supported.
Specifically for communities, the legislation provides bond funds to help local communities capture and manage water better, provides funding for securing emergency drinking water supplies for drought impacted communities and also increases funding for state and local conservation corps to assist communities with efficiency upgrades and fire risk. This includes $1 million for the “Save Our Water” public awareness campaign – a water conservation campaign aimed at the state’s residents.
Impacted workers will have access to $25.3 million in food assistance funding and $21 million for housing related assistance.
Additionally, the proposed legislation adopts new groundwater replenishment regulations and makes statutory changes to ensure existing water rights laws are followed and provides increased enforcement penalties for illegally diverting water. The bill also provides the California Department of Housing and Community Development the greatest flexibility to maximize migrant housing units.
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