California Governor Jerry Brown and top lawmakers on 19 March announced a $1bn (£680m) emergency package to deal with the state's devastating multi-year drought.

The proposed legislation would appropriate more than $1bn in voter-approved bond funds to speed up water projects and programmes and provide aid to struggling California cities and communities.

The state is entering the fourth year of record-breaking drought that has prompted officials to sharply reduce water supplies to farmers and impose strict conservation measures state-wide.

"This is a struggle, and it's going to have to be something that we have to live with for, how long? We're not sure. We're going to have to find the recycling, the storage, the efficiency, and there's more to do. The water board just issued some orders yesterday, there will be more orders to come, so it's not a partisan problem, the drought is a real problem, a hydrological challenge, we're going to meet it the best way we can by pulling together. So there will be a lot of these press conferences in the months and years to come, because I think it's long overdue that we get some very long-term solutions, but taking the immediate steps to alleviate specific problems," Brown, the state's popular Democratic governor, told reporters at a press conference to announce the measures.

The state Water Resources Control Board earlier this week imposed new drought regulations, outlawing lawn watering within 48 hours of rain and prohibiting water from being served in restaurants unless a customer requests it. But at the news conference, Brown stopped short to committing to enforcing any water rationing for Californians.

"We're going to have to do more, and how we do that across the whole state is a matter of judgment," said Brown.

In California, the drought lingers despite storms that brought some respite in December and February. The storms helped fill some of the state's reservoirs higher than they were at this time last year but most still have less water than historical averages show is typical.

The Sierra Nevada snow pack, which melts in the spring and provides up to a third of the state's water, stood at 12% of normal on 17 March.