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Gov. Jerry Brown OKs $1 billion to tackle drought, other water issues

Gov. Jerry Brown signs legislation authorizing $1 billion to tackle drought, other water issues

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation with more than $1 billion in spending on water projects.

The two bills include emergency relief, such as food and water supplies, for drought-stricken communities in the Central Valley. There's also hundreds of millions of dollars for long-term projects involving flood control, desalination and water recycling.

"This funding is just one piece of a much larger effort to help those most impacted by the drought and prepare the state for an uncertain future," Brown said in a statement. "But make no mistake, from Modoc to Imperial County, rain is not in the forecast and every Californian must be doing their utmost to conserve water."

The legislation includes only $27.4 million in new funds. The rest of the money was included in previous budget proposals or bond measures that have already been approved by voters. In addition, some of the projects being supported by the legislation won't be completed for years.

Some advocates have urged state leaders to take stronger steps toward water conservation, including mandatory rationing, because Californians have fallen short of Brown's goal of reducing water use by 20%.

Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, said statewide rationing would be difficult to implement and fairly enforce.

"Water is managed locally in California. There are thousands of water agencies," she said. "It's not like there's one bucket of water that everybody shares."

However, she said not enough has been done to conserve water, and the board may consider some stricter measures this spring.

"At this point, we are frustrated," Marcus said.

Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.

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