California drought: policymakers agree to tackle climate change to end extreme drought
On the final day of approval, California governor Jerry Brown gained support on both sides of the house for a $7.6 billion (£4.5bn) water bond that will rescue the drought ridden state from catastrophe.
The bond will be used to improve water supplies and will be put in front of voters in November, finally ending a year-long political battle between the Republicans and Democrats over what the state should do.
The drought has currently cost the east coast state $2.2 billion (£1.3bn) in lost crops, jobs and other damages, slowing the regional economy and increasing its state-wide debt.
The money will directly fund water storage projects, including facilities like reservoirs, groundwater clean-up investments, improvements to waste and drinking water treatment facilities as well as state-wide investment into tackling climate change and drought.
“With this water bond, legislators from both parties have affirmed their faith in California’s future,” said Brown.
An original bond, established by previous governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for $11.1 billion (£6.5bn) was rejected by Brown, as the states bond debt was already significantly high.
Critics have argued that the bond will not be enough to make any substantial impact on the severely drought ridden state.
However, Democratic speaker Toni Atkins has described the bond as “the biggest investment in water storage in decades”.
Political disagreements were centred on what to use the money for, with Republicans advocating the expansion of reservoirs and the Democrats believing the damming of rivers and streams was too environmentally damaging.
California has been experiencing the worst drought in decades, with recent estimates suggesting that 80% of the state is now suffering from drought.
The extremity of the drought has led to measures to conserve and protect precious drinking water, including the shutting down of fracking wells over fears of contamination.
Photo source: Peter Thoeny via Flickr
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