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IMG_RB_Drought_1.JPG_2_1_S51JJJUC_L37370981.JPGWith drought conditions still challenging California, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a $687 million relief package Saturday, including money for infrastructure improvements, emergency water shortages and aid to farmworkers.

Brown signed the emergency legislation two days after both houses of the Legislature approved the measure, with nearly unanimous support.

"Legislators across the aisle have now voted to help hard-pressed communities that face water shortages," Brown said in a prepared statement. "This legislation marks a crucial step - but Californians must continue to take every action possible to conserve water."

The legislation includes efforts to improve groundwater management and rainwater capture. It also allocates millions of dollars for communities at risk of running out of drinking water, and includes food and housing assistance for farmworkers whose fields have been laid fallow.

The measure also includes $1 million for a water conservation public awareness campaign.

There was never doubt Brown would sign the bill, which he and legislative leaders proposed just more than a week ago.

The vast majority of the funding, $549 million, comes from water and flood-prevention bonds voters approved in 2006, with smaller amounts from the state's greenhouse gas reduction program and general fund.

Brown declared a drought emergency in January, with the state suffering through a third dry year.

PHOTO: Aerial view of Folsom Lake looking northeast from near Beals Point on Thursday, December 26, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton



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