California Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Emergency Drought Loan Bill

California suffering through driest three years ever recorded, with no relief in sight

The news this week that Californians could lose water — and with it most of their crops — is just the latest blow in the state’s ongoing water crisis.

With less water available for crops, farmers were on edge, and the resulting drop in prices caused some to pull their equipment from the field.

And then, in a stunning turn of events, Gov. Jerry Brown signed an emergency drought loan bill Tuesday into law.

The Legislature gave the governor the authority, in the two-year period ending in August 2019, to issue a $2.9 million loan to help farmers cope with the potential loss of water in their fields.

The bill also provides $7 million in loans to help homeowners get through the year if the water supply is reduced.

The Legislature approved the emergency drought legislation in March, nearly nine months before most of the state’s more than 3.3 billion acre-feet of water had been consumed and before the water board’s water use forecast indicated that California would need an additional 200 million acre-feet during the 2014-2018 agricultural season.

The drought is not expected to hit until at least 2019.

It was the third and possibly last time the state Legislature would give the governor that authority, which can come a year too late to help farmers who have already lost water. California was the first state in the nation to pass similar loan programs for farmers following previous years of droughts.

“This bill sends a strong, clear message that the drought emergency has passed and we must now act to help the crops and the rural communities and our neighbors who depend upon them,” Gov. Brown said when he signed the bill into law Tuesday. “This time, more than ever, we need all Californians to come together and do whatever they can to make sure that water is available for farm fields, and our communities are not left in jeopardy without a viable water supply.”

California’s drought crisis is far from over.

Since the beginning of the year, the state has lost more than 15 billion gallons of water, accounting for more than 8 percent of what was available for California during its regular two-year farming season, and more than 1 percent over the entire year, according to the Water Board.

That puts the state two days short of the total amount of water, which the Weather

Leave a Comment