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$687 million proposed to help California drought

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 19, 2014 at 6:45 p.m.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown and the top Democratic lawmakers are proposing to spend $687 million to help drought-stricken communities throughout California, including $15 million for those with dangerously low drinking water supplies.

The governor announced the legislative proposal during a news conference Wednesday, describing it as "a call to action" as the nation's most populous state deals with one of the driest periods on record.

Most of the money — $549 million — will come in the form of accelerated spending from two bonds approved previously by voters. It will go toward local water conservation and recycling efforts, such as systems to capture stormwater and recharge groundwater supplies.

The general fund, the state's main checkbook, also will be tapped. In addition to the money for emergency water supplies, $25.3 million from the general fund will provide food assistance in communities affected by the drought.

The proposal, which now goes to lawmakers for consideration, does not address long-term improvements to California's water supply and distribution system.

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