CA announces $1B emergency drought relief package; ACWA comments on proposal
On Thursday, March 19, California Governor Jerry Brown and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers announced a $1-billion emergency drought relief package to combat the widespread severe drought that has continued to plague the majority of the state over the last four years.
March 20, 2015 -- On Thursday, March 19, California Governor Jerry Brown and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers announced a $1-billion emergency drought relief package to combat the widespread severe drought that has continued to plague the majority of the state over the last four years.
The package is aimed at providing local drought relief and expediting projects that can improve short- and long-term water supply reliability. Moreover, the proposal will allocate nearly $273 million from the $7.5-million water bond passed last November (see "CA voters approve $7.5B water bond at Nov. 4 ballot"), as well as $660 for various flood-control projects across the region.
Timothy Quinn, executive director of the statewide Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), issued the following statement on the package:
"We applaud the governor and legislative leaders for taking a strong stance on protecting Californians from the effects of this unrelenting drought. We need that leadership and the immediate funding in this package to take action now.
"This drought shows no sign of abating, and this package is a welcome step to accelerate relief to communities that are hardest hit. The expedited bond funding will help needed projects get out of the gate more rapidly -- including recycled water projects that are ready to go and can be brought online relatively quickly. It also jump-starts some longer term projects that will help improve the resiliency of our system to combat future droughts.
"Local water agencies are on the front lines responding to this drought with aggressive projects and programs to reduce water use, stretch existing supplies and protect remaining water reserves. They will continue to use every tool available to manage through the drought this year and improve our water supply reliability long term.
"As the drought tightens its grip, water conservation will continue to be the critical lever we can pull. Recent polling shows the vast majority of Californians understand the need to conserve and are willing to do more. Local water agencies are taking action to further strengthen conservation efforts (e.g., see "Drought drives MWD to continue promoting region-wide water conservation"), and ACWA and the Department of Water Resources are providing tools and support for these critical efforts through the Save Our Water program."