California Gov. Brown proposes $1 billion in drought spending

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders on Thursday proposed legislation to accelerate more than $1 billion in drought-relief spending for California as it copes with a fourth dry year.

Signs couldn't be more obvious -- snowpack measurements that are at historic lows and almost nonexistent, reservoirs drying up when they should be brimming with water, and photos from NASA showing that California's surface water could run out soon.

"NASA is now estimating we have one year or two of water supply left," said State Senate President Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles. "And that's creating a renewed sense of urgency."

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And while state legislative leaders and Brown announced a $1 billion drought emergency package, only about a third of that money goes to measures directly related to the drought.

"But it does provide critical emergency water and food services, and much-needed funding for those small communities impacted by a lack of drinking water," said Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

"While the rain started, they didn't continue, and we have to do something not only long-term, but short-term," said Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar.

Beyond that though, there is $660 million for flood control, $10 million for low emissions farm equipment, and $24 million in food assistance to those impacted by the drought.

For now, the governor says there's no need to increase his year-old call for a 20 percent voluntary cutback in water usage.

"Don't worry," Brown said. "If this drought continues, we'll crank it down and it will get extremely challenging for people in California."

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"People who are in top leadership positions want to be careful not to create a sense of panic," said Sierra Club of California Director Kathryn Phillips. "And I think he's right to say we are not in a situation now where we have to panic."

Brown says he has faith that state water managers will make the right decisions at the right time.

Drought tips

One of the easiest ways to reduce water use is to simply turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth. Doing so will save two gallons per minute. Also, each minute you cut from your shower saves 2.5 gallons. And if you install aerators on all your bathroom and kitchen faucets, you'll reduce household water usage by about four percent.

For full coverage on the drought, click here.
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