Recent rainstorms notwithstanding, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a $687 million drought-relief bill on March 1.
“Legislators across the aisle have now voted to help hard-pressed communities that face water shortages,” said Brown in a statement. “This legislation marks a crucial step—but Californians must continue to take every action possible to conserve water.”
The $687.4 million bill passed overwhelmingly in both the state senate and the assembly, Brown’s statement said. The money will go toward housing and food for workers who are experiencing direct impacts from the water shortage, bond funds that will finance projects enabling local communities to capture and manage water more efficiently, and help procure emergency drinking water for communities whose supply is dwindling.
Brown had declared a drought emergency in January as the state acknowledged its driest period in recorded history. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation had also announced on February 21 that water levels were too low for it to release irrigation waters to farmers, households and businesses that rely on the flow, the Associated Press reported.
Although a large part of the state got much-needed precipitation via a winter storm on February 27 and 28, it was not enough to make up for years without water.
“Like the rain this weekend, this package is badly needed to help mitigate the effects of the historic drought California is facing. But also like the rain, we need to see more,” said Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez in the governor’s statement. “That’s why every Californian needs to continue to conserve water, and there’s more work to do on storage, water quality improvement and environmental protections. If we don’t act now, the problems we face will only get worse.”
The Hoopa Tribe is among the communities that are suffering the effects of too little water, though it was not immediately clear how much of the aid would go to tribes specifically.