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jerrybrowndrought.jpgSAN FRANCISCO — The plainest reason for a governor to call a drought emergency is to focus public attention on conservation, and Gov. Jerry Brown spent most of a Friday morning news conference focused exactly on that.

But the Democratic governor is aware that an ongoing drought could have significant implications for water policies central to his administration, including his $25 billion plan to build two tunnels to divert water around the Delta to the south.

Brown sought to use the drought to his advantage, arguing that the project will improve long-term water management.

"I think it makes the case that more water can be saved if you have a Delta facility," he said.

Brown also suggested the state will press the federal government to accelerate environmental reviews of the project.

Restore the Delta, a group opposed of Brown's plan to build the tunnels, issued a statement immediately after the news conference.

With the state now in its third straight dry year, the coalition said "there is no surplus water to export."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown declares a drought emergency in San Francisco on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders



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