Governor, Legislature introduce $1 billion in drought relief

By on March 20, 2015
Yucaipa Politics March, 2015 Governor, Legislature introduce $1 billion in drought relief

Today Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders introduced a package of bills that would allow for $1 billion in emergency drought spending. The funds would go to drought relief and infrastructure projects, which would make the state’s water infrastructure more resilient.

“This unprecedented drought continues with no signs yet of letting up,” Gov. Brown said. “The programs funded by the actions announced today will provide direct relief to workers and communities most impacted by these historic dry conditions.”

Republicans were briefed on the package of bills just before it was introduced. Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff said that Republicans would have to review the package further, but said that it sounded like a good approach.

“There’s no question California’s drought crisis has worsened, as once again we’ve experienced a dry winter,” Huff said. “With the hot summer months approaching, it’s incumbent on all Californians to be responsible with how they use water. It’s critical that we act now.”

The announcement came just days after the State Water Resources Control Board imposed new restrictions on water usage. On Tuesday, officials called on water agencies to limit the number of days that residents water their lawns. Water agencies that have restrictions in place already will be exempt from this, even if their restrictions allow for watering more than twice per week. However, agencies that do not have restrictions in place would need to enact them within 45 days, or be subjected to the Board’s requirements.

The State Water Resources Control Board also prohibited watering landscapes within 48 hours of rainfall, required that restaurants only serve water to customers on request, and required hotels to offer guests the option to deny daily washing of sheets and towels.

Yucaipa has had mandatory water restrictions in place since August. As part of that, the city is using an odd/even watering system. Homeowners at an even numbered address may water on even days of the month, and odd numbered addresses on the odd days. Other prohibitions include: allowing excessive irrigation runoff, using a hose without a shot-off nozzle, using drinking water in non-recirculating fountains and washing down sidewalks or driveways.

“Since most of the water we use at a typical home is for outdoor irrigation, customers can significantly reduce water use by adjusting their watering
schedules to alternating water days,” Joseph Zoba, general manager for the Yucaipa Valley Water District, said when the restrictions went into effect.

Water usage has dropped off for the last several months, in part due to multiple storms and cooler weather. In January, the Yucaipa Valley Water District reported that residents were using 100.19 gallons per resident per day. That’s significantly down from the summer months. In September the reported usage per day was 253 gallons per person.

Conservation efforts have been bolstered by other means as well. Last month the Yucaipa Valley Water District held a workshop to teach homeowners about alternative landscaping that uses less water. Up to 70 percent of a home’s water usage is for irrigation. The water district has also offered rebates for high efficiency sprinkler nozzles, weather responsive irrigation controllers and high efficiency toilets.