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Williams Announces $1 Billion State Drought Response Package

Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, announced on Thursday an agreement between the Legislature and the governor to move forward a $1 billion drought response package to expedite bond funding to make the state more resilient to the disastrous effects of climate change and help ensure that all Californians have access to local water supplies, while considering critical operations to protect fish and wildlife.

In the fourth year of a historic drought, the Legislature is taking swift action to put Prop. 1 water bond dollars approved by voters last November to action in preparation for the dry summer months ahead.

The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which Californians rely on heavily during the summer for their water needs, is at a near record low. The March snowpack measurement came in at 0.9 inches of water content in the snow, just 5 percent of the March 3 historical average for the measurement site. The overall water content for the Northern Sierra snowpack came in at 4.4 inches, just 16 percent of average for the date. Central and southern Sierra readings were 5.5 inches (20 percent of average) and 5 inches (22 percent) respectively. Only in 1991 has the water content of the snow been lower.

“The state is doing what it can to get folks to stop using excessive water,” Williams said. “The State Water Resources Control Board just met to discuss urging local water districts to limit their ratepayers to watering lawns no more than twice a week. While Californians are doing what they can, the other piece of the puzzle is expediting funds for shovel ready projects that help our communities.”

The legislation includes more than $1 billion for local drought relief and infrastructure projects to make the state's water infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather events. The package accelerates $128 million in expenditures from the Governor's budget to provide direct assistance to disadvantaged communities, workers and, populations impacted by drought and to implement the Water Action Plan. It also includes $272 million in Proposition 1 Water Bond funding for safe drinking water and water recycling and accelerates $660 million from the Proposition 1E for flood protection in urban and rural areas. Most importantly, these funds will provide emergency drinking water, food assistance to sever drought impacted counties, drought response coordination, and water use efficiency grants for agricultural and urban water users.

“Let’s be clear, this package won’t solve the drought,” Williams added. “But it does provide critical emergency water and food services and gets a start on big projects — such as water recycling —– which secures local water supply reliability.”

Procedural votes were taken on the Assembly floor Thursday with public hearings planned for Wednesday, March 25, and a final floor vote in both houses of the legislature taking place on Thursday, March 26.

— Anett Hurtado is a field representative for Assemblyman Das Williams.

 

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