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More Money For Drought Aid, But No Mandatory Conservation

Ben Adler
Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders aren’t calling for any mandatory water conservation in this fourth year of drought. Instead, they’re offering emergency drought aid for a second straight year. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the state has yet to spend nearly half of last year’s emergency drought money.

The governor did not announce any new water conservation rules. But he hinted that day might come soon if the rain does not.

Brown: “If I really think we need to go to 20 or 25 percent, don’t have any doubts – we’re gonna increasingly control the use of water to the point where you have to get a lot more efficient. It’s gonna be expensive and everybody’s got to do their part – and they will.”

In the meantime, Brown announced a new billion-dollar drought package – with money for water recycling, desalination, water quality and flood protection projects. The governor negotiated the legislation only with Democratic leaders. Republicans signaled their support too, but said this package isn’t enough. Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen:

Olsen: “I’m calling on the state water agencies, on state government, to get projects out of the red tape; to get them moving, because they’ve been hung up for decades.”

In fact, the governor’s office acknowledged that the state has only spent a little over half of last year’s $870 million of emergency drought funding. Brown said there’s a limit to how fast state agencies can work.