California water bill to be reworked, including funding for water conservation
The California water-rights bill, the most expensive water-protection measure passed in the state’s history, will undergo a major revision that will see more than $200 billion of savings for Californians and billions more for the state and county governments, Gov.
Jerry Brown said Wednesday.
The bill passed with bipartisan support by the Assembly last week, and Brown signed it into law this week.
It now heads to Brown’s desk for his signature.
It was the most costly water bill passed in California history, and the biggest in the nation.
The state already has about $200.5 billion in water reserves, but the bill will see that number increase to more than half a trillion gallons, Brown said.
Brown said the money would go toward helping Californians avoid drought-related water stress.
The legislation includes a provision to allow the State Water Project to spend the money on the following projects, Brown added: water-related construction, improvements to the Bay Area’s water supply, water infrastructure and irrigation projects.
California’s economy is already suffering from the drought and Brown’s plan will help the state cope, Brown told reporters.
But it’s important that Californians continue to make the most of the state water resources, he said.
Brown’s plan includes $70 billion in state aid to California and $30 billion in new taxes, but that’s only part of the problem.
The bill also calls for a $5 billion increase in the amount of water the state could legally use.
Brown estimates that more than 80 percent of that money would be spent on water conservation projects, but there’s no guarantee it would be used for that.
Some water-intensive projects, such as the construction of a dam on Lake Tahoe, would be delayed until 2030.
The water-use tax would also be delayed, Brown noted, because there are still some uncertainties about how the state would use the tax money.
The money is intended to be used on projects that could help reduce water use by 50 percent, Brown estimated.
That’s not a huge increase, but it’s a start.
California is in the middle of a drought that has forced hundreds of millions of people to turn to other methods of water conservation, including water purification and the use of other chemicals, Brown explained.
In addition to the drought, California is facing a major increase in wildfires, which have destroyed more than a million acres of land and destroyed nearly two million homes.
The state has already had more than 7,000 wildfires in 2017, up from 4,500 in 2016.
California has experienced record heat and wildfires in the past.
California is one of the most vulnerable states in the country to the growing threat of wildfire.