Drought Watch

By Matt Weiser
Published: Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 – 12:00 am

California’s Senate leader is drafting legislation that would expedite help for communities facing what may become the worst drought in state history.

The actions proposed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, would set a July 1 deadline for state agencies to approve water recycling and stormwater reuse projects. It also would redirect millions of dollars intended for climate-change relief to projects that benefit water conservation.

Details of the proposal were provided to The Sacramento Bee by Steven Maviglio, a political consultant who represents local governments and environmental groups that were given a preview of the legislation. Mark Hedlund, a spokesman for Steinberg, confirmed details of the proposal but said the senator is still working with the governor’s office and Assembly leaders on the legislation.

“It’s just a question of getting everything more complete before we unveil it,” Hedlund said.

The measures are proposed as urgency amendments to Senate Bill 731, a pending bill drafted by Steinberg that makes changes to the California Environmental Quality Act. The goal is to avoid further delaying “shovel ready” projects that can bring relief, whether this is the last year of drought or just another year in a much longer drought.

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