On March 1, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a $687 million emergency drought relief package following his January declaration of a drought State of Emergency. The package includes $549 million from the accelerated expenditure of voter-approved bonds for infrastructure grants for local and regional projects that are already planned or partially completed. Projects to be funded include stormwater capture, water reuse, enhancing the management and recharging of groundwater storage, and strengthening water conservation. Further, $14 million will go to groundwater management across the state.
“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 (D-Fresno). “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.”
At the end of February, some parts of California received a brief respite from the dry conditions, as more than 280 mm (11 in) of rain fell in some higher elevations. Los Angeles County was able to capture about 22.7 million m3 (6 billion gal) of water for groundwater recharge, enough to supply more than 150,000 people for a year, according to the Los Angeles Times. While the rains did make a sizeable impact on water levels in some dams, the county is still far from the 257 million m3 (68 billion gal) it typically captures during the rainy season. See the county’s pictures of the rain. Read more about the drought relief package.