Governor introduces $1B emergency drought relief plan

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SAN DIEGO -- In the face of a continuing drought, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders including Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, introduced emergency drought legislation Thursday aimed at expediting $1 billion in water-related projects.

“We need to get the money out the door now for shovel-ready projects and existing water programs that only need funding to get started,'' said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles. ``No delay. No red tape.''

The emergency action announced at a Sacramento news conference includes a pair of bills -- one to appropriate $1 billion from a pair of voter-approved water-related bonds and another to expedite contracting and create an office to “help disproportionately impacted communities respond to their water challenges,'' de Leon said.

“Taken together, this package provides a major boost to our state's efforts to manage our water crisis and strengthen our current infrastructure,'' he said.

Atkins said the continued lack of rain means the Legislature and residents have to step up to meet the challenge.

“Since our skies are still clear, our job is clear too,'' she said.

“Everyone has to use less water and use it more effectively. And state leaders have to make sure we meet emergency needs, prepare for short-term problems and advance the longer-term projects that will help us get through this drought and the others to come.''

On the heels of the Governor's announcement, residents are also being asked to save more even more water.

"The drought is deepening, it’s a serious situation," said Jason Foster, Public Outreach and Conservation Director with the San Diego County Water Authority.

Foster said this week, the state's Water Resources Control Board announced a new round of restrictions.

"You’re not supposed to water during rainstorms or 48 hours after rainstorms," said Foster. "We've always had this request, but now it's mandatory."

In addition, restaurants can only serve water to patrons upon request and Hotels/Motels are no longer allowed to wash linens and towels daily.

Foster said come July, the Metropolitan Water District is also cutting back supply.  The Los Angeles water agency supplies about 50 percent of the water for the San Diego Region.

To help San Diego conserve more, the Water Authority is partnering up with the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors Association of San Diego to offer discounts.

Participating association members will offer 10 percent discounts up to $100 during Fix a Leak Week.  The discount applies to all products and services related to fixing leaks at homes and businesses in the San Diego region.

"You may think those drops are minor, but they add up," said Foster.  "Household leaks account for more than 1 trillion gallons of water wasted each year nationwide."

For more information on the discount or to schedule an appointment, visit www.phccsd.org/Consumers.html.

"It's about taking out sod and putting in a new landscaping," said Jordan Cabbarubias, Landscaping Designer. "So that’s kind of the trend right now."

Cabbarubias said he's already seeing San Diegans making a change.  He told FOX 5 on average, he provides five to seven estimates a week and lately, they're all drought tolerant focused.

"It's for the environment, it’s not just for your wallet, it’s more for the earth than the money issue," said Cabbarubias.

"This is a struggle and it’s going to be something we have to live with for how long we’re not sure," Brown said.

This marks the second consecutive year in which the Legislature has acted on emergency drought relief. In 2014, Brown signed a $687.4 million drought package that offered aid to communities facing acute water shortages and food and housing assistance to those harmed by the drought.

The Legislature also crafted a $7.5 billion water bond that was approved by voters last November, with most of those funds earmarked for longer-term projects to bolster the state's water infrastructure.

The latest move comes amid growing concern about the drought, now entering its fourth year.

"We're going to have to find the recycling, the storage, the efficiencies, and there's more to do...It's not a partisan problem. The drought is a real problem, a hydrological challenge. We're going to (tackle) it the best way we can by pulling together," said Brown.

According to the governor's office, the state has pledged more than $870 million to support drought relief since Feb. 2014, including funds for emergency drinking water supplies in drought-impacted communities and for water-saving projects in local communities.

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3 comments

  • Jacki Lovell-Howardson

    I’m tired of showering once a week while my neighbor washes his Porsche every day and floods the cul de sac we live on here in La Jolla, enough is enough!

    • James

      That’s crazy. There”s plenty of water. If the state diverted the 58 billion from the bullet train to desalinization we’d all have plenty of water and you’d smell better.

    • Troll Patrol

      Please take the time to google JACKI LOVELL-HOWARDSON

      This is obviously someone paid by fox to go into all of their internet threads and be a complete and utter a##hole.

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