NEWS WORTH NOTING: LAO report on Resources/Environmental budget proposals; State Water Board launches human right to water web portal; State Water Contractors name Jennifer Pierre General Manager; Weekly water and climate report

Legislative Analyst’s Office releases report on Resources/Environmental budget proposals

From the Legislative Analyst’s Office:

In this report, we assess many of the Governor’s budget proposals in the resources and environmental protection areas and recommend various changes. Below, we summarize our major findings. We provide a complete listing of our recommendations at the end of this report.

The Governor’s budget for 2017‑18 proposes a total of $8.3 billion in expenditures from various sources—the General Fund, various special funds, bond funds, and federal funds—for programs administered by the Natural Resources ($5 billion) and Environmental Protection ($3.3 billion) Agencies. This total funding level in 2017‑18 reflects numerous changes compared to 2016‑17, the most significant of which include (1) decreased bond spending of $2.8 billion, largely attributable to how prior‑year bond expenditures are accounted for in the budget; (2) a reduction of $600 million in spending from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund related to shifting this funding to a “control section” of the budget act; and (3) a net reduction of $299 million from the General Fund, in large part due to one‑time funding provided in 2016‑17, such as for deferred maintenance projects.

Click here to read the report.

State Water Board Launches Human Right to Water Web Portal

Website Allows Access to Drinking Water Compliance Data for CA Water Systems

From the State Water Board:

Today the State Water Resources Control Board announced the launch of its Human Right to Water Portal, a new website for the public to find information related to efforts to assure that every Californian has access to safe, clean and affordable drinking water.

“This new website will serve as a valuable resource for the general public seeking drinking water compliance data on the state’s regulated water systems,” said Darrin Polhemus, deputy director for the State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water. “Here the public will be able to see what types of contamination issues water systems are facing and what they are doing to return to compliance.”

With data on more than 3,000 community, schools and day care public water systems in California, the website lets users look up their water system and see whether it complies with federal drinking water standards. The site includes an interactive map that shows the locations of 292 public water systems that are currently out of compliance with federal standards for contaminants such as nitrate and arsenic.

The website includes information on state efforts to assist local communities in addressing contamination problems and improve access to safe, affordable drinking water. In recent years, for example, smaller water systems in disadvantaged communities have returned to compliance by consolidating with larger systems. Some of these success stories are described on the website.

Users can also find other useful information, such as downloadable public water system data, reports and media on the human right to water, and an explanation of the Affordable Safe Drinking Water Initiative. The portal will be updated with new information as it becomes available, including content on drinking water affordability and accessibility.

In 2015, the “Resilient, Affordable, Safe Drinking Water for Disadvantaged Communities Framework” was created, which identified a series of measures necessary to ensure that all communities have access to safe and affordable water. Over the past two years, the state Legislature and Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. have taken important steps toward implementing the actions specified in the framework.

Some of the actions include giving the State Water Board authority to order the mandatory consolidations of public water systems that do not provide water that meets drinking water standards (Senate Bill 88, Senate Committee on Fiscal Review), as well as require failing public water systems that serve disadvantage communities to obtain State Water Board-approved managerial services to help reach compliance (SB 552, Wolk). In an effort to reduce the proliferation of public water systems, SB 1263, Wieckowski, will prevent the establishment of new, unsustainable public water systems.

The most significant remaining challenge is the lack of funding necessary to help subsidize the water rates paid by low-income residents, the costs of an administrator, and operation and maintenance of drinking water systems. On Feb 8, 2017, the State Water Board hosted a workshop on the Affordable, Safe Drinking Water Initiative, in which many stakeholders and community members voiced concerns about clean water affordability and accessibility, and discussed what implementation of a low-income rate assistance program could look like. For more information visit: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/conservation_portal/assistance/

On Sept. 25, 2012, Gov. Brown signed Assembly Bill 685, making California the first state in the nation to recognize that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible water…”  The State Water Board adopted a resolution on Feb. 16, 2016, identifying the human right to water as a top priority and core value of the State and Regional Water Boards.

Users can access the website at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/hr2w/index.shtml

State Water Contractors Name Jennifer Pierre General Manager

After a six-month search, the State Water Contractors (SWC) today announced Jennifer Pierre as the organization’s incoming general manager, succeeding Terry Erlewine. Pierre has a strong background in water project operations, infrastructure, environmental compliance and complex regulatory issues. She is uniquely qualified to lead the organization as it takes on some of the state’s most challenging water supply, environmental and infrastructure needs.

“This is both an exciting and a critical time for the State Water Project and the State Water Contractors and I’m excited to lead this dynamic organization into the future,” said Pierre. “Working with our partners throughout the state, we’ll continue to find solutions to our water resource management issues that result in a reliable and sustainable future for California’s water supplies.”

Pierre’s depth of expertise and leadership skills have already helped her adeptly and successfully navigate today’s complex environment. In her role at ICF International, Pierre led critical elements of California WaterFix and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. She has an in-depth understanding of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a key focus for SWC’s member agencies.

“Twenty-six million Californians, businesses and farms depend on the State Water Project,” said Douglas Headrick, SWC Board President. “It’s a big job, and we’re pleased to have Jennifer at the helm.”

Pierre will assume her role as general manager on March 6.

A statewide, non-profit association of 27 public water agencies, SWC has worked since 1982 to reliably manage water supplies that fuel California’s farms and statewide economy while protecting the environment, public health and future water security. Collectively, SWC members deliver water to more than 26 million residents throughout the state and more than 750,000 acres of agricultural land.

Pierre will replace Terry Erlewine, who is retiring after 22 years as SWC’s general manager.

“We extend our deepest gratitude to Terry for his great contributions and leadership in the water community and within this organization,” said Headrick. “His years of service have been instrumental, and the benefits will be long-lasting.”

Mr. Erlewine’s last day at SWC will be on April 4. For more information on SWC, please visit www.swc.org.

Weekly water and climate report:  Authorities advise residents to remain vigilant

From the USDA:

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.

Oroville, California (CNN) “Rain is expected Thursday in the Northern California area around Lake Oroville, as crews work to reduce the water level there. Earlier this week, authorities ordered mandatory evacuations over concerns that an emergency spillway at the Oroville Dam could fail and threaten nearby communities. On Tuesday, officials downgraded the evacuation order to a warning, allowing 188,000 evacuees from Butte, Sutter, and Yuba counties to return home. A series of storms are heading into the region, but they are smaller than previous ones. These storms are expected to persist through the weekend. A flash flood watch is in effect until Sunday.

Click here to read the report.

 

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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