What’s in the Governor’s proposed budget for emergency drought response and implementation of the California Water Action Plan

The Governor released his proposed budget this morning.  Here’s what’s in the budget for emergency drought response and the California Water Action Plan:

What’s in the Governor’s proposed budget for Emergency Drought Response …

From the Natural Resources Chapter pages 109-114

The State of California has entered into what may prove to be a fifth consecutive year of drought. Major reservoirs are extraordinarily low and many groundwater aquifers are significantly depleted. Drinking water supplies continue to be at risk in some communities, agricultural areas face fallowing of farmland and increased unemployment, and drier conditions have increased the risk of wildfire. The drought has also degraded important wildlife habitats and pushed some of the rarest fish and terrestrial species closer toward extinction.

Since the Governor first declared a state of drought emergency in January 2014, the Administration has worked with the Legislature to appropriate $3.7 billion to assist drought‑impacted communities, provide additional resources for critical water infrastructure projects and respond to drought‑related wildlife emergencies. The state has also committed an additional $292 million General Fund in the current year for emergency response activities associated with catastrophic wildfires, such as higher wildfire  suppression costs and debris removal in impacted communities in Lake and Calaveras counties to enable community rebuilding and economic recovery.

The Budget provides an additional $323.1 million ($212.1 million General Fund) on a one‑time basis to continue immediate response to the drought (see Figure RES‑01). The Budget also reflects an additional $215 million General Fund for higher anticipated emergency wildfire suppression costs as a result of the drought, including significant tree mortality throughout the state. The Administration will continue to monitor and evaluate statewide drought conditions through the winter months, and will reevaluate these budget year needs in the May Revision.

Significant Adjustments:

Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) — An increase of $74.5 million General Fund and $2.9 million State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fund to continue firefighter surge capacity, retain seasonal firefighters beyond the normal budgeted fire season, provide additional defensible space inspectors, and enhance air attack capabilities to suppress wildfires during the 2016 fire season.
Department of Water Resources — An increase of $64 million General Fund for multiple statewide drought response efforts including:

•• $42 million for installation and removal of a temporary rock barrier in the Sacramento‑San Joaquin Delta to deter salinity encroachment.
•• $12 million to implement statewide actions, including operation of the drought management operations center, water transfer support and water supply modeling.
•• $5 million to provide emergency drinking water support for small communities, including addressing private wells.
•• $5 million to continue Save Our Water, the state’s public education campaign aimed at helping all Californians reduce water use.

• State Water Resources Control Board — An increase of $5.4 million General Fund and $16 million Cleanup and Abatement Account to continue enforcement of drought‑related water rights and water curtailment actions and provide grants for emergency drinking water projects.
Department of Fish and Wildlife — An increase of $15.7 million General Fund and $2 million Hatchery and Inland Fisheries Fund to continue fish rescue and stressor monitoring, water efficiency projects on department lands, law enforcement activities, and to provide infrastructure to protect salmon. Drought response efforts will include the voluntary drought initiative, which encourages landowners to keep as much water as possible in high‑priority spawning streams. The Department also has expedited installation of storage tanks for landowners who would otherwise divert from streams.
Department of Social Services — An increase of $18.4 million General Fund to continue the Drought Food Assistance Program, which since 2014 has delivered more than a million boxes of food to communities most impacted by the drought.
Department of Community Services and Development — An increase of $7.5 million General Fund to provide emergency assistance to unemployed farmworkers, including housing, utility and job training assistance.
Office of Emergency Services — An increase of $26.7 million General Fund to continue to provide local communities with technical guidance and disaster recovery support related to the drought, distribution of bottled water, and response and recovery training and credentialing program for local agencies.

The Budget also includes $90 million of Cap and Trade funding for the Department of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Water Resources, and the Energy Commission for multiple water conservation projects that save energy and reduce GHG emissions.

Drought response budget

What’s in the Governor’s proposed budget for implementing the California Water Action Plan …

From the Natural Resources chapter, pages 109-114

Released in January 2014, the California Water Action Plan provides a blueprint for California to build more reliable and resilient water systems and restore important ecosystems. Many of the emergency drought response actions executed during the previous four years further the 10 actions of the California Water Action Plan (see Figure RES‑02), including making conservation a way of life, increasing regional self‑reliance in water supplies, and improving flood protection.  The state’s emergency drought response is strategically guided by accelerating several of the key actions in the California Water Action Plan that will provide long‑term benefits for the state.

In November 2014, the voters approved the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1), which provides $7.5 billion in general obligation bonds for water storage, water quality, flood protection, and watershed protection and restoration projects. Proposition 1 includes funding specifically intended to achieve the three overarching goals described in the Plan: restoration, resilience, and reliability.

Significant Adjustments:

State Obligations — An increase of $385 million Proposition 1 funds for multiple agencies to support projects that meet the state’s commitments under the Klamath Agreements ($250 million), the Central Valley Project Improvement Act ($90 million), and the San Joaquin River Settlements ($45 million).
Flood Protection — An increase of $100 million General Fund for the Department of Water Resources to enhance flood protection in the Central Valley by repairing levees. This is part of the deferred maintenance proposal in the Statewide Issues Chapter.
Salton Sea Restoration — An increase of $80 million Proposition 1 for the Department of Water Resources to design and implement projects that expand habitat and suppress dust at the Salton Sea, a critical resting stop for migratory birds.
Wetlands Restoration — An increase of $60 million Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to implement wetland restoration projects that provide carbon sequestration benefits, including habitat restoration projects within the California EcoRestore program to support the long‑term health of the Delta’s native fish and wildlife species.
Update of the Delta Plan — An increase of $3.6 million General Fund for the Delta Stewardship Council to implement the Delta Science Plan and incorporate the WaterFix Delta conveyance project into the Delta Plan.
Manage and Prepare for Dry Periods — An increase of $3 million General Fund for the Department of Water Resources to identify water delivery operational improvements in extreme conditions and evaluate long‑term climate change impacts on statewide water supplies.
Groundwater Management — An increase of $2.5 million General Fund for the Department of Water Resources to update data and fix safety hazards at 15 monitoring sites that are part of the National Hydrography Dataset, an important federal surface water mapping system.
Investment Strategy — An increase of $1.2 million General Fund for the Department of Water Resources to strengthen coordination and performance evaluation across state and regional agencies and develop a long‑term investment and financing strategy for the Water Action Plan.

Since the establishment of the Governor’s drought task force in December of 2013, the state has made significant progress in a number of key water policy areas. California has adopted historic groundwater legislation, improved the groundwater adjudication process, enacted legislation that authorizes the consolidation of drinking water systems, and, with the help of the voters, enacted a $7.5 billion water bond.

Even with these achievements, the last four years of drought conditions have exposed the weaknesses of the state’s water system and the laws that govern it. As the state adapts to the future challenges of reduced Sierra snowpack and other changes to California’s hydrology associated with climate change, it will be necessary to gain more flexibility in a water system that is increasingly constrained, both physically and legally.

The state must focus limited resources on projects that leverage and maximize multiple benefits, and integrate the state’s water systems with regional and local supplies. New water storage and conveyance systems must work together with water recycling and conservation to support economic growth in an environmentally sustainable way.

Furthermore, the state must create more flexibility to get water where it is needed — on farms, in communities, and in streams to support people and the biodiversity on which they depend. The state must also improve the ability to transfer water and help support the integration of surface water and groundwater use to lessen conflicts between human, economic and environmental demands for water.

What the Governor’s budget says about Water Action Plan and Safeguarding California …

From the Environmental Protection Chapter, pages 104-105

While California continues to reduce GHG emissions, the state is already confronting the  impacts of climate change. Many impacts, such as increased fires, floods, severe storms and heat waves, will only become more frequent and more dramatic. California has experienced four consecutive years of below‑average rain and snow, and is currently facing severe drought conditions statewide. Water levels in the state’s reservoirs are depleted, the state’s snowpack has been at historically low levels, and the state’s rivers have been experiencing reduced flows.

In July 2014, the Natural Resources Agency released the Safeguarding California Plan, which identified risk reduction strategies to prepare for, and adapt to, climate change, including the management of the state’s water supplies. In recognition of the current and future challenges of climate change, the Water Action Plan provides a blueprint to improve water supply reliability, restoration, and resilience (See the Natural Resources Chapter). The Cap and Trade Expenditure Plan includes an additional $150 million for the following programs that reduce GHG emissions by saving energy through water conservation, and restore ecosystems to improve carbon sequestration:

$60 million for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to implement wetland restoration projects that provide carbon sequestration benefits, including habitat restoration projects within the California EcoRestore program to support the long‑term health of the Delta’s native fish and wildlife species.
$30 million for the Energy Commission to begin implementation of the Water Energy Technology Program to provide funding for innovative technologies that reduce GHG emissions by (1) achieving significant energy and water savings, (2) demonstrating actual operation beyond the research and development stage, and (3) documenting readiness for rapid, large‑scale deployment in California.
$30 million for the Energy Commission to implement a consumer rebate program for the replacement of energy‑inefficient water‑consuming appliances, such as dishwashers and washing machines.
$20 million for the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s existing State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, which provides incentives to agricultural operations to invest in energy‑efficient irrigation technologies that reduce GHG emissions and water use.
$10 million for the Department of Water Resources’ existing Water Energy Grant Program which reduces energy demand and GHG emissions through local projects that also support water use efficiency and conservation.

Read the full budget proposal here:  Full Budget Summary

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