Gov. Brown signs drought relief bill

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The irony could not be avoided: On a day when much of the state was soaked by almost non-stop rain, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a $687 million drought relief bill.

But climatologists noted that even the massive storm that pushed through the state in recent days would barely put a dent in easing California's water woes.  

Passed by a bipartisan group of legislators, the bill includes bond funds for emergency construction for communities facing dry reservoirs, fire fuel reduction efforts in risk areas, and food and housing for farmworkers who are displaced or who have lost jobs because of the drought.

In addition to the funding, the bill calls for the California Department of Public Health to adopt new groundwater replenishment regulations by July 1, and for the State Water Resources Control Board and the DPH to work on additional measures to allow for the use of recycled water and storm water capture for increasing water supply availability.
The bill also makes statutory changes to ensure existing water rights laws are followed, including streamlined authority to enforce water rights laws and increased penalties for illegally diverting water during drought conditions.

"Legislators across the aisle have now voted to help hard-pressed communities that face water sources,'' the governor said in a statement.

In Washington, lawmakers continue to wrestle with the federal response. The GOP-led House of Representatives has passed a bill that has been criticized by environmentalists, while Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has introduced a bill that has not been presented for a vote. 



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