(Sacramento) Today the Governor and legislative leaders announced a package of measures designed to respond immediately to the impact of the worst drought faced by California in its recorded history. Majority Leader Atkins issued the following statement in response to these proposals:
“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for our state. The emergency drought relief legislation will assist parched communities affected by severe water shortages by helping them to secure drinking water as well as providing assistance to those forced into unemployment by the drought. In addition, the legislation provides incentives for improved water conservation and delivery technologies. This approach reaffirms the work done by the San Diego County Water Authority and local residents and businesses by emphasizing water conservation, funding improvements to our infrastructure that improve local water supply, water quality and storage capacity. Both urban and rural areas of our state will benefit from this legislation.
While the Legislature and the Governor prioritize immediate measures to alleviate the crisis, every Californian must also do their part by heeding the Governor’s call for a 20% reduction in their water use. We must also continue with long-term plans to increase our storage and delivery capacity as well as pursuing alternative approaches to generating fresh water such as desalination.”
Key elements of the emergency drought relief package include:
- Increased infrastructure investments by expediting funding for water supply and recycling, groundwater clean-up grants to disadvantaged communities suffering from drinking water contamination, and multi-benefit flood projects;
- Enhanced enforcement authority for the State Water Resources Control Board to address water rights violations such as diverting or stealing water;
- Help for those economically impacted by the drought, including food assistance, rent subsidies, and work force training;
- Funding for new water efficiency and conservation activities, including California Conservation Corps water reduction and fire safety projects that will also provide employment opportunities for veterans and unemployed youth.