California staves off water crisis with $1bn emergency drought relief

AFP Photo / Nelson Almeida
The Golden State will get a $1 billion package to provide immediate relief to try and stem future water problems. Officials assure the population that they will not run out of water completely as the state enters its fourth year of drought.

On Thursday state governor Jerry Brown and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers announced a one billion dollar package to provide immediate relief to try and stem future problems.

“This is a struggle, something we’re going to have to live with. For how long we’re not sure,” said Brown during a press conference.

Of the $1 billion in emergency aid, $660 million of that is for flood prevention, which Brown explained is linked, as they are both related to climate change.

READ MORE: Only 1 year of water left in California, NASA scientist suggests rationing

The emergency funding legislation comes just two days after a raft of other measures designed to limit water use across California. Watering lawns and gardens will be limited to two days a week and restaurants will only be able to offer tap water on request.

“We have been in multiyear droughts and extended dry periods a number of times in the past, and we will be in the future,” said Ted Thomas, a spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources, as cited by the LA Times

“In periods like this there will be shortages, of course, but the state as a whole is not going to run dry in a year or two years.”

The new regulations do not really ask much of residents and Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, believes that water should be rationed.

“Because of the severity of the situation, I do think the public is ready for it,” he said, as quoted by Time magazine.

READ MORE: North California farmers ditching crops to sell water to south

Charles Stringer, chair of the Regional Water Board in Southern California, told Time magazine that much more needs to be done.

“We’re trying to get where we need to go without too much pain and sacrifice. But what the water experts and policy makers are saying with increasing urgency is that’s not possible,” he said.

It was also unclear, how the current regulations would be enforced, without the manpower to do it.

In a recent poll 94 percent of residents said that they thought the drought was “serious” and yet experts insist that California is not in danger of running out of water in the next two years.

“We have been in multiyear droughts and extended dry periods a number of times in the past, and we will be in the future. In periods like this there will be shortages, of course, but the state as a whole is not going to run dry in a year or two years,” Ted Thomas, a spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources, told the LA Times.

But Famiglietti does not agree and believes state reservoirs have only about a year’s water supply left and that groundwater reserves are already depleted.