Monday, April 21, 2014

Gov. Brown, Legislative leaders announce emergency drought legislation

February 20, 2014 | 24 Comments

SACRAMENTO – With California experiencing its worst water shortage crisis in modern history, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez to announce legislation to immediately help communities deal with the devastating dry conditions affecting our state and provide funding to increase local water supplies.

“This is a call to action. We must all do our part to conserve in this drought,” said Governor Brown. “The state is doing its part by providing immediate funding for drinking water, food, housing and assistance for water-conserving technologies,” said Governor Brown.

The legislation provides $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.

“Without enough rain and snow this winter, we need to capture as much water as we can through any means possible. Water agencies around the state have projects ready to go to capture and distribute more of the water that’s now lost to evaporation or simply flowing out to the ocean. They simply need money to get those projects done,” said Senate President pro Tem Steinberg. “We don’t have to ignore environmental protections, raise fees or get bogged down in political arguments over projects that will take many years to produce a single drop of water. It’s time to focus on what we can do right now.”

“By making smart use of these funds, we can alleviate and prevent some of the worst impacts of the drought and, at the same time, make badly needed improvements to our water system that will benefit California for years to come,” Speaker Pérez said. “These targeted responses will have tangible results, but the solution requires more than legislation and investment. Every Californian needs to be a part of the solution, and we strongly urge every person in our state to take action to conserve water.”

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.

Several of the proposals included in this package were proposed in the Governor’s January budget, but will now be expedited.

Highlights of the legislation include:

Enhancing Water Conservation and Improving Water Supplies

$549 million from the accelerated expenditure of voter-approved bonds, Proposition 84 and Proposition 1E, in the form of infrastructure grants for local and regional projects that are already planned or partially completed to increase local reliability, including recapturing of storm water, expand the use and distribution of recycled water, enhance the management and recharging of groundwater storage and strengthen water conservation.

$20 million transferred from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for direct expenditures and grants to state and local agencies to improve water use efficiency, save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from state and local water transportation and management systems.

$14 million for groundwater management across the state, including assistance to disadvantaged communities with groundwater contamination exacerbated by the drought.

$10 million transferred from the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fund for the California Department of Food and Agriculture to invest in irrigation and water pumping systems that reduce water use, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

$10 million transferred from the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fund for the DWR to establish a grant program for state and local agencies to implement residential, commercial or institutional water efficiency projects that reduce water and energy use.

$15 million from the General Fund for Emergency Drinking Water Fund to address emergency water shortages due to drought.

$13 million from the General Fund to augment the California Conservation Corps and local community conservation corps to expand water use efficiency and conservation activities and to reduce fuel loads to prevent catastrophic fires.

Assisting Californians Disproportionately Impacted by the Drought

$25.3 million from the General Fund for food assistance, which will be structured to maximize the potential federal drought assistance that can be provided to provide food assistance to those impacted by the drought.

$21 million from the General Fund and federal funds for housing related assistance for individuals impacted by the drought.

With California facing one of the most severe droughts on record, Governor Brown declared a drought State of Emergency last month and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages. Governor Brown met with President Obama about crucial federal support during the ongoing drought last week, and the state continues to work with federal partners to ensure a coordinated drought response. Governor Brown and the administration have also expressed support for federal legislation introduced by Senators Feinstein and Boxer and Representatives Jim Costa, Tony Cárdenas and Sam Farr.

Across state government, action is being taken. The Department of General Services is leading water conservation efforts at state facilities, and the Department of Transportation is cutting water usage along California’s roadways by 50 percent. Caltrans has also launched a public awareness campaign, putting a water conservation message on their more than 700 electronic highway signs.

In January, the state took action to conserve water in numerous Northern California reservoirs to meet minimum needs for operations impacting the environment and the economy, and recently the Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced they would seek the authority to make water exchanges to deliver water to those who need it most. The State Water Resources Control Board announced it would work with hydropower generators and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to preserve water in California reservoirs. Recently the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Fish and Game Commission restricted fishing on some waterways due to low water flows worsened by the drought.

The state is working to protect local communities from the dangers of extreme drought. The California Department of Public Health identified and offered assistance to communities at risk of severe drinking water shortages and is working with other state and local agencies to develop solutions for vulnerable communities. CAL FIRE hired additional firefighters and is continuously adjusting staffing throughout the state to help address the increased fire threat due to drought conditions. The California Department of Food and Agriculture launched a drought website to help farmers, ranchers and farmworkers find resources and assistance programs that may be available to them during the drought.

Even as the state deals with the immediate impacts of the drought, it’s also planning for the future. Recently, the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency and CDFA released the California Water Action Plan, which will guide state efforts to enhance water supply reliability, restore damaged and destroyed ecosystems and improve the resilience of our infrastructure.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent, and the Save Our Water campaign launched four public service announcements encouraging residents to conserve and has resources available in Spanish. Last December, the Governor formed a Drought Task Force to review expected water allocations and California’s preparedness for water scarcity. In May 2013, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order to direct state water officials to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water.

Gov. Edmund G., Brown Jr.


Discussion | 24 comments

  • Pat SnellingFebruary 19, 2014 - 5:03 pm

    Conservation? Yes, no doubt. ........ But I wonder if we are experiencing a similar experience to the movie "Chinatown," and I wish someone in the Governor's office would explain it. ......... The parameters of our Drought-Stage will be determined by how much water we have left in storage on April 1. ......... If we continue to get "Less" water (from rain or snow) coming in our storage than we are "Using" right now, we will have to cut back 30% -- Not the 20% Gov. Brown is recommending for the rest of the state. ....... Could we have had MORE water in storage than we do right now? ..... Yes! ...... By declaring the State in a Drought much earlier...... When he writes an Executive Order, it OVER-RIDES the Environmental requirements for Fish..... and cuts the AMOUNT of water RELEASED from our storage....... The Executive Order would also OVER-RIDE the Farmer's consumption for the winter-growing season (Farmers are paid with Tax $$$ for no water via contracts and Farm Bill.).... By continuing to release the MANDATORY requirement left El Dorado County to release MORE than coming in for 4 months (October, November, December and January) we end up with Folsom Lake down to 17% and Shasta down to 21% ..... and .... Pyramid Lake (98%) and Castic Lake (86%) ... both in SoCal ..... Schwarzenegger declared a Drought sooner........ Twice.... Now why do I say "Chinatown"?...... because the EXTRA water sent by ED County to the Delta........ was Sucked up 800,000 acre-feet ... and sent those Water Storage Lakes in Southern CA........ The Water Agencies reported that .... "We have enough water to supply our customers for 3-years" ..... And we don't? ..... Can someone explain?

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  • Phil VeerkampFebruary 19, 2014 - 6:07 pm

    Pat, can you direct me to your source of, "We have enough water to supply our customers for 3-years" (SoCal)? The three lakes that store water from the SWP are Pyramid Lake, Castaic Lake and Silverwood Lake with a combined maximum storage capacity of 571,170 acre feet. It is SOP to maintain these lakes nearly full in consideration of the seismic vulnerability of the California Aqueduct. Their nearly full status today is NOT the result a recent "hurry up and fill up" strategy. Pat, the SoCal population is around 3.8 million, and 571,170 acre feet over three years gives about 6 gallons per capita per day. Lake Meade is down to 43%. Owens water is certainly limited. Where is the source for, "We have enough water to supply our customers for 3-years" (SoCal)? Dink made the same statement. I repeatedly asked Dink for his source. Dink has not responded.

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 19, 2014 - 6:17 pm

    Phil, my friends and family down south say that they are going through drought well as the heavy fines if caught using excess water...for vegetation, cars, or even pools. They have been told there is no water.

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  • Phil VeerkampFebruary 19, 2014 - 6:29 pm

    Yes, Fran. BTW - If you see a source for, "We have enough water to supply our customers for 3-years" please direct me to it. I want to understand the parameters and the ag sacrifices that give SoCal that margin. Is it subsistence. Is it, "We can survive three more years of drought if we only drink once a day and bathe in the Pacific?"

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  • Miss MFebruary 24, 2014 - 6:07 pm

    Fran: More on the fracking issue in yes, California. Gather with your fellow Sierra Club Members and Californians from across the state for the “Don’t Frack California” Rally at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Saturday March 15 2014 (1 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.). Thousands of Californians will converge on the steps of the State Capitol and tell Governor Brown to use his authority and issue an Executive Order to enact an immediate halt to fracking/well stimulation in California. Will you stand with us? Oil companies have been using dangerous technologies to extract oil from California with virtually no oversight. Left unchallenged, they plan to up the ante. Putting our air, water, people and wildlife at even more risk from pollution and climate change. Let's show Governor Brown that when it comes to standing up for the health of our environment, our people and the future of our state. The Sierra Club always suits up, stands up and speaks up!

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  • Phil VeerkampFebruary 24, 2014 - 7:33 pm

    Miss M Before one can have, " More on the fracking issue in yes, California", one must first have a nucleus around which to build. You seem to be missing a nucleus around which you can build . . . neither within this thread nor within the existing train of comments . . . but . . . fire away! Fran, are you a Sierra Clubber? I didn't know.

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  • Phil VeerkampFebruary 24, 2014 - 7:55 pm

    Miss M - LINK -Groundtruthing Academy Award Nominee 'Gasland' - NYT - Published: February 24, 2011 ~~~ Debunking GasLand

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  • Phil VeerkampFebruary 24, 2014 - 7:56 pm

    Is Miss M a drive-by "shooter"?

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 19, 2014 - 6:33 pm

    Phil,, I will try to see if I can find it--but couldnt the other day :(

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  • Phil VeerkampFebruary 20, 2014 - 8:44 pm

    Fran, Dink and Pat were applying a statement from Long Beach"s Kevin Wattier and applying it to all of MWD's 26 cities. "The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a consortium of 26 cities and water districts that provides drinking water to nearly 19 million people in parts of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties." ~~~

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  • Pat SnellingFebruary 20, 2014 - 4:10 pm

    Yes, I know they keep their lakes full to meet their "expanded" demand. If you look at the "Inflow" stats on DWR, you will see they were taking in "more" than they were receiving. This is the same article I sent Dink it last week. MWD says this in the quote at the end of the article. (

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  • Pat SnellingFebruary 20, 2014 - 4:16 pm

    *** receiving previously. (Sorry about that. Long meetings yesterday left me exhausted.)

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  • Pat SnellingFebruary 20, 2014 - 4:27 pm

    One more thing. You realize that Southern California takes all the water from the Colorado, Owens, Kern, Tule, Kaweah, Kings, and all but 20% from the San Joaquin River, all of which are NOT part of the California Aqueduct that sucks out of the Delta? And you realize that all of our water storage pooled together is LESS than 30%? And the Kern County Water Bank, and they four lakes they have for storage pooled together is MORE than 70%? ..... Where is Northern California's "buffer"?

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  • Phil VeerkampFebruary 20, 2014 - 5:47 pm

    Pat, certainly you do not mean it when you say that SoCal, takes all the water from the Colorado. Arizona has an allotment. Mexico has an allotment. The Owens allotment is constrained now by environmental concerns.

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  • Phil VeerkampFebruary 20, 2014 - 6:43 pm

    Pat, why are you tossing Kern, Tule, Kaweah, Kings into the mix? These flows are Central Valley ag and metropolitan (Fresno, Bakersfield etc.) supplies. They have no bearing on Oroville, Shasta and Folsom releases. They were dedicated decades ago to Central Valley users. Perhaps we are talking past each other. My use of SoCal refers to SWP water commitments via the California Aqueduct. No water from Kern, Tule, Kaweah, Kings goes to Metropolitan Water District(SoCal lawns, golf courses etc.). Also you seem to dismiss the loss of ag water as little consequence because farmers have crop insurance tax $$$ and the Farm bill. Fine. When we go to Raleys do we get to fill our baskets with tax $$$, Farm bill, and crop insurance ?

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  • Phil VeerkampFebruary 20, 2014 - 5:35 pm

    Pat, the link you provided points to (what I consider) rather suspect statements from Long beach as opposed to SoCal in it's entirety. LINK - State Dry, But Long Beach Okay For Now - Long Beach Water Department General Manager Kevin Wattier My take on Mr. Watteir is that he is either deliberately "whistling in the wind" or he is an incompetent nincompoop. We shall see whether or not he has three years of ground water. He certainly does not have three years stored in Pyramid, Castaic, Silverwood. Agriculture will not be devastated in order before Mr. Wattier implements something, " draconian like in other parts of the state. Southern California's situation is more dire than Long Beach and Mr. Wattier's cheery summary.

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 20, 2014 - 10:54 pm

    Phil...sticking my tongue out at you...I wasnt applying anything--I was helping you find a source for 3 1/2/ years worht of water down south--the closest I came to anything was the 1 1/2. Bad Phil :( This comes close to killing jimmie the innocent butterfly. I also said my friends in LA said they have been saving water due to drought--way before we got the official Phase one....

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  • Phil VeerkampFebruary 20, 2014 - 11:14 pm

    FRAN! Settle down, IT WAS PAT AND DINK . . . GET IT . . . PAT AND DINK who were misapplying the article about the Long Beach doofus. I do get it, FRAN, that you were trying to help me with info. PLEASE, pull your tongue back in. You do look silly. ;>)

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 20, 2014 - 11:01 pm

    worth <---great word

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 20, 2014 - 11:48 pm

    okay i forgive you :) Phil...have a great night. Good night James...sock puppets...yawn...trolls

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 24, 2014 - 8:07 pm

    sorry Phil...I was thrown off...I am not a Sierra Cluber. I am still reading about fracking. I do know--that I am against solar panels and windmills moving at top speeds.

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 24, 2014 - 8:20 pm

    ....I am also concerned with the levels of abestos in cars (reg and electric) and lightrails. I was yelled at by someone once at school--they had a new car...and I didnt. Mine was spitting water...and the person was saying something about the environment. I asked if they had an abestos check on their clutch and brake pads. They stomped away...and I went back to filling the radiator with water. My car was not a piece of was just old. When i finally got a brand new car--someone stole it. So I had to travel for two hours to get to school (should have stayed with the Nova.)

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  • Miss MFebruary 24, 2014 - 11:26 pm

    Excuse me, Phil Veerkamp. I posted in error in a wrong thread previously in regard to marijuana legalization. The link was for Fran because she had mentioned she wasn't aware of fracking in California. And no, I am not a drive by shooter....***(*&^

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  • Phil VeerkampFebruary 25, 2014 - 5:53 am

    Absolutely, Miss M! I may be the LAST forum poster who ought to get snippy as I did. My own posting "discipline" falls short. I may also be a little too quick to pounce on what appear to be fracking "luddites".(loosely applied) ~~~ I left you a link. Did you read the NYT at February 24, 2014 - 7:55 pm?

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