Gov. Brown to Water Agencies: Shortage Caused by Drought Won’t Disappear

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Gov. Jerry Brown told the state’s water agencies that the water shortage caused by four years of drought won’t disappear quickly.  Local water agencies were hit hardest by new state water-use regulations, and that has them cutting water use by as much as 36 percent from two years ago.

“If these problems don’t get handled they’ll just get worse … they won’t go away,” Brown said.

The city of Folsom must save an additional 11 percent on water use after cutting back 21 percent this year.  City officials said city landscapes may get brown.

“Keep the active areas and the play fields green, but maybe start to stress some of the areas that aren't as active or do not have as heavy traffic,” said Marcus Yasutake, Folsom Water Resource director.

The San Juan Water District has a Stage 4 water emergency, which allows for an increase in water bills by 30 percent.

But beginning in June, customer bills will inch up by 10 percent to get the message across to customers that have already cut back water use.

“We’re confident that the customers will notice this with the 10 percent and we won’t have any reason to increase any higher,” said Shauna Lowrance, San Juan Water District executive director.

Brown also made a pitch for his twin tunnels project for the Delta, saying the water issues in the Delta have persisted for 50 years.

“I’m here to deal with the problems I’m given, I didn’t invent these problems,” Brown said.

Critics say the only way the plan would work during a drought is if environmental protections are put aside.

“These tunnels would be empty today, they would not be full unless the proponents of the tunnels go to the Water Board and go to the fish agencies and get get special dispensation to violate all the wage quality rules,” said Osha Meserve, an attorney representing Delta growers and environmental groups.

Brown said if he doesn't go forward with a plan, someone else will have to deal with it later.