LOS ANGELES (AP/CBSLA.com) — Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders introduced emergency drought legislation aimed at expediting more than $1 billion in drought-relief spending for California as it heads into a fourth dry year.

The emergency action announced at a Sacramento news conference includes a bill to appropriate $1 billion from a pair of voter-approved water-related bonds and another to expedite contracting and create an office to “help disproportionately impacted communities respond to their water challenges,” according to Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon.

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“Taken together, this package provides a major boost to our state’s efforts to manage our water crisis and strengthen our current infrastructure,” said de Leon (D-Los Angeles).

The package would provide immediate aid to communities facing dire water shortages and unemployment. The proposal includes money for emergency drinking water, food aid for the hardest-hit counties, fish and wildlife protections and groundwater management.

The announcement comes just days after state regulators ordered local water agencies to limit the number of days that customers can water their lawns every week.

The legislation will need majority approval from the state Legislature which is controlled by Democrats.

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Last year Brown signed a $687 million drought-relief package, which mostly went to accelerate water infrastructure projects.

The water in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, California’s largest water source, is far below normal. Winter is normally California’s rainy season, but it’s drawing to an end without significant storms to replenish reservoirs.

Continuing dry conditions drove state water regulators this week to ramp up mandatory water restrictions on California residents. Under rules approved Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board, Californians can’t water their lawns daily and must ask for water when dining at restaurants.

The last drought relief-package provided 100,000 households boxes from food banks and rental assistance to 2,000 farm workers, according to figures provided in September by the Department of Social Services and the Department of Housing and Community Development.

The state water department used the funding to award local water agencies $221 million in October, funding a variety of projects that ranged from boosting water recycling, creating new wells to fixing leaks. The state is scheduled to award another $250 million by fall.

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