California to Get $14 Million in Federal Drought Relief

California will get as much as $14 million in federal funding to improve water management and conservation as the state faces its driest year on record.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide the funds to the state’s water districts and growers, the federal agencies said today in a statement.

“The situation in California is critical and requires a swift and effective response at all levels of government,” Michael Connor, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, said in the statement.

California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, declared a drought emergency on Jan. 17 in the most populous U.S. state after three years of below-average rainfall left some reservoirs and rivers at critical levels. The state is the country’s largest producer of fruit and vegetable crops including avocados, lettuce and strawberries.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is spending $20 million to improve irrigation efficiency and stabilizing fallowed farmland in the state, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said yesterday in a conference call with reporters.

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