California today made significant progress in providing funding for public benefits associated with new water storage projects, as the California Water Commission (Commission) adopted regulations that advance the implementation of the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP). Through the WSIP, the Commission will fund the public benefits of water storage projects that improve the operation of the state water system, are cost effective, and provide a net improvement in ecosystem and water quality conditions.
In November 2014, California voters approved Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act, a $7.5 billion water bond for investments in the state’s water management systems. The bond dedicated $2.7 billion for investments in the public benefits of water storage projects and designated the Commission as the agency responsible for appropriately investing these funds.
“I commend the Water Commission for completing these regulations and meeting the statutory deadline,” said Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird. “The Water Bond was the result of bipartisan legislative action, supported by Governor Brown and ratified by a two-thirds vote of the electorate, advocating for an all-of-the-above water strategy embodied in the California Water Action Plan. The Water Storage Investment Program is an important part of that comprehensive approach.”
The Commission voted 8-0 to adopt the regulations with Commissioner Catherine Keig abstaining because she was only recently appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on December 12. The regulations will now be sent to the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for review, approval and filing. Under the Administrative Procedure Act, OAL has 30 working days to approve the regulations.
“The regulations adopted by the Commission today are the result of extensive public engagement and define the guidelines and criteria to award bond funding for new water storage projects that provide public benefits like ecosystems improvements, recreation, flood control, emergency response, and water quality improvements,” said Water Commission Chair Joe Byrne. “This program will help provide safe and reliable water to support the state’s economy, environment, and quality of life, and help address the long-term water needs for California families, farms, communities, and the environment.”
Proposition 1 affirmed the role of water storage as part of a comprehensive approach to address the varied challenges facing the management of California’s water resources. The WSIP represents an important opportunity to invest in California’s water future and complements the California Water Action Plan’s goal of expanding surface and groundwater storage.
The nine-member California Water Commission is charged with advising the director of the California Department of Water Resources, approving rules and regulations, and furthering development of state policies that support integrated and sustainable water resources management. For more information regarding the California Water Commission visit www.cwc.ca.gov . For more information about the Water Storage Investment Program, visit https://cwc.ca.gov/Pages/PublicBenefits1.aspx .
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