With so many critical needs facing the state, agencies are gearing up to begin to spend the money; however, prior to funds going out the door, processes must be in place to ensure the money is spent cost-effectively and for the purposes intended. This week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Wildlife Conservation Board will begin public meetings to discuss the new grant programs, and the California Water Commission will hold the first meeting of the Water Supply Investment Program’s Stakeholder Advisory Group. The public is welcome to weigh in on these processes.
Here are the details.
Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Wildlife Conservation Board guidelines for Prop 1 spending up for public review and comment
The Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Wildlife Conservation Board will jointly conduct public meetings to discuss the new grant programs established by Proposition 1, and to receive public comment on the guidelines. The meetings will be held in Sacramento and Redding this week, and in Los Alamitos next Monday.
Department of Fish and Wildlife Watershed Restoration and Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program
Proposition 1 provides $285 million for watershed restoration projects statewide, and another $87.5 million for projects that benefit the Delta. The Governor’s budget is proposing to spend $31.4 million of these funds on restoration projects in 2015-2016.
The Watershed Restoration Grant Program provides funding for watershed restoration projects outside of the Delta. Eligible projects proposed for funding include restoring and protecting coastal wetland habitat; improving forest health and restoring mountain meadows; modernizing stream crossings, culverts, and bridges; reconnecting historical flood plains; installing or improving fish screens; providing fish passage; restoring or enhancing riparian, aquatic, and terrestrial habitat; supplying water to wetlands; acquiring from willing sellers conservation easements for riparian buffer strips; improving local watershed management; and removing sediment or trash.
Eligible funding for projects under the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program include projects that contribute to the improving water quality; habitat restoration, conservation, and enhancement projects that improve condition of listed species; and scientific studies and assessments that support the Delta Science Program or projects.
Wildlife Conservation Board: Streamflow Enhancement Program
Proposition 1 provides $200 million to the Wildlife Conservation Board to fund projects that enhance stream flow; the Governor’s proposed budget for next year includes $38.9 million for enhanced streamflow projects.
Grants awarded under the program will provide enhanced stream flows and support implementation of multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects in accordance with statewide priorities.
Eligible projects include water transactions, such as lease, transfer, or seasonal exchange, acquisition of permanent and long-term instream flow dedications; habitat restoration projects that reshape the stream’s hydrograph; studies to evaluate instream flow needs, identify priority streams or evaluate temperature needs; irrigation efficiency and water infrastructure improvements that save water and enable reshaping of the stream hydrograph; and reconnecting flood flows with restored flood plains.
The draft guidelines detail general program and eligibility requirements, how applications will be evaluated, and how grants will be awarded. Projects funded under these programs should implement objectives and actions outlined in the California Water Action Plan, with emphasis on ecosystem restoration. The funds will be awarded on a competitive basis, depending upon the availability of funding.
California Water Commission to hold first meeting of the Water Storage Investment Program Stakeholder Advisory Group
Proposition 1 dedicated $2.7 billion for investments in water storage projects and tasked the California Water Commission with determining a process for quantifying the public benefits of water storage projects and developing a competitive process to allocate those funds to eligible projects. The California Water Commission is developing the Water Storage Investment Program, and as part of the process, a Stakeholder Advisory Committee has been designated to provide input to the Commission.
The first meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Group will be held on April 1st, beginning at 9am in the Tsakapoulos Galleria in Sacramento. Agenda items include reviewing the Water Storage Investment Program schedule; the role of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee; reviewing the goals, objectives, and principles of the program; and reviewing project eligibility criteria. The types of eligible public benefits and the quantifying what those benefits are will also be discussed. There will be opportunity for public comment prior to the lunch break, and again at the conclusion of the day.