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California Gets $50 Million for Drought Relief

SACRAMENTO (CN) - California will get $50 million in federal money to help the state deal with a historic drought, now in its fourth year, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said.

Jewell and Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled the details of the money from the Bureau of Reclamation at a Friday news conference at the state Capitol.

Nearly $29 million will go to California's Central Valley Project and $8.6 million for the Lower Colorado River Basin Drought Response Action Plan.

"Today's funding will help boost immediate and long-term efforts to improve water efficiencies and increase resilience in high-risk communities, including in California's Central Valley," Jewell said.

Jewell and Brown said the funding will also go toward drought monitoring systems, drought planning and habitat conservation. Brown called the funding "an indicator" that California and Washington are good partners and said the key is getting smarter with water use.

The announcement came on a rainy Friday morning at the Capitol, the first rain most of Northern California had seen in a month. California just recorded its driest January on record, and for the first time San Francisco did not record a single day of rain in January.

"We are on a catastrophic collision course, which basically every Republican in Washington denies," Brown said of the drought. "Our climate is the warmest since records have been kept."

In January 2014 Brown asked Californians to decrease their water use by 20 percent to combat the drought and in December said they met his request. Brown said he's not ready to impose mandatory water restrictions and that he prefers communities to continue with voluntary conservation.

Jewell said the Obama administration is taking an "all-in" approach toward the drought and thanked California Sen. Dianne Feinstein for helping to make the money available.

The $50 million from the Interior Department falls short of the $183 million in federal funding that Obama gave California last February. Brown said California can use the money.

"Every $50 mil counts," Brown said with a grin.

When asked whether desalination plants are an option if the drought persists, Brown said they are too expensive for California to develop.

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