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Governor Newsom Signs Emergency Drinking Water and Fire Recovery Package

February 19, 2019
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first pair of bills signed into law allocate $131.3 million to fund emergency drinking water and fire recovery in California.
 
Budget bills AB 72 and AB 73 provide immediate funding to support communities that have been devastated by California wildfires and to communities around the state that have unsafe water. The governor stated this emergency funding is “Only the first step to addressing the clean drinking water crisis in our state.”

The funding breakdown is outlined below.
  • $50 million for emergency preparedness.
    • $30 million for a statewide campaign through California Volunteers within the Office of Planning and Research.
    • $20 million for local grants through the Office of Emergency Services.
  • $64.3 million to reimburse counties for property tax losses incurred in the 2017–18 and 2018–19 fiscal years as a result of wildfires.
    • $31.3 million is allocated to backfill property tax losses incurred as a result of wildfires including current year losses for Butte, Lake, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Shasta and Siskiyou Counties as well as estimated losses in 2019–20 and 2020–21 for the Counties of Butte and Lake.
  • $10 million in loans to the State Emergency Telephone Number Account towards upgrading the Next Gen 9-1-1 system.
  • $10 million for emergency water funding for emergency drinking water and technical assistance.
  • $10 million to local water districts for technical assistance related to compliance with current drinking water standards.
  • $15 million to the Department of Finance to retain legal counsel and audit services for any public utility liability issues.
  • $5 million into the newly created Rapid Response Reserve Fund to address costs arising from immigration and human trafficking emergency situation.
These funds appropriated in these bills will be deposited into the newly created Disaster Response Emergency Operations Account. Public entities are eligible to receive these funds for activities occurring within 120 days after the governor declares an emergency.

The measures also clarify that funding in the 2018 budget to improve the quality of drinking water in public schools may be awarded as grants to public agencies, public water systems, or nonprofit organizations and re-appropriates the balance of funds provided in 2016 for the same purpose.


 
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