Governor Jerry Brown has proposed an additional $ 2 billion in his revised budget to help California respond to the drought. The bulk of the funding, $1.7 billion, would go to water recycling and sewer projects and help clean up groundwater and drinking water.
Money for those projects would come from the water bond voters approved last fall. Cleaning up contaminated groundwater gets the biggest portion, $784 million.
“You have very large groundwater aquifers in Southern California, San Fernando, San Gabriel, Chino, that really provide a significant amount of water supply and could provide more if they could be cleaned up,” says Jennifer Clary with Clean Water Action.
It would also mean less reliance on water from Northern California.
A small pot of money – about $6 million – would help those in the Central Valley who have no water. Susan Riggs with the Department of Housing and Community Development says the drought has dried up 2,000 water wells.
“This will probably include relocation assistance for those residents that are being impacted as well as some rent replacement in the event that their rents are going up,”says Riggs.
One-hundred-four-million dollars would help communities achieve Brown’s Executive Order. It mandates a 25-percent water conservation rate. Mark Cowin with the Department of Water Resources says cities that don’t offer consumer rebates for lawn replacement or water efficient appliances would get help.
“If we can get it targeted in the right areas then not only will it make a difference in this drought but it can change behaviors and start the right investment practices for the longer term,”says Cowin.