The state assembly and senate actions Feb. 27, if approved as expected by Gov. Jerry Brown, would take effect immediately. Most of the money comes from bonds voters had already approved, and will speed up water conservation and recycling projects.
Elements of the package include:
- $15 million to address emergency water shortages;
- $10 million for financial incentives to agriculture to invest in water irrigation treatment and distribution;
- $1 million for a public awareness campaign; and
- $1 million to improve groundwater monitoring and reporting.
The funds would be in addition to the $183 million in federal money for drought relief promised by President Barack Obama on a recent visit to California’s Central Valley.
Brown administration representatives had said existing water rights laws would not change under the California proposals, and that new enforcement powers given to the State Water Resources Control Board would only apply during the drought emergency. Water rights holders who questioned such assurances successfully negotiated amendments, Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers Association reported.
Senate amendments stopped fines for unintentional diversions. Western Growers advised members to be vigilant and to avoid illegal diversions.
Brown — who has announced he’ll seek reelection — declared the drought emergency Jan. 17.