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
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
“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.
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
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, expanding the use and distribution of recycled water, enhancing
the management and recharging of groundwater storage and strengthening
• $30 million 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
• $14 million for groundwater management across the state, including
assistance to disadvantaged communities with groundwater contamination
exacerbated by the drought.
• $10 million 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
• $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
• $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
in January and directed state officials to take all necessary actions
to prepare for water shortages, and the Governor, joined by legislative
leaders, announced legislation
to immediately help communities deal with the devastating dry
conditions affecting our state and to provide funding to increase local
Governor Brown met with President Obama about crucial federal support during the ongoing drought last month, and the state continues to work with federal partners to ensure coordinated drought monitoring and 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 California State Architect has asked California school districts and Community Colleges
to act on the Governor’s call to reduce water usage. The Department of
Transportation is cutting water use 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
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.