California Water Commission posts Water Storage Investment Program Public Benefit Ratio Appeal Responses

From the California Water Commission:

California Water Commission staff today released updated assessments of the public benefits of proposed water storage projects, a step that keeps the Commission on track to award $2.7 billion in funding this summer.

Proposition 1, approved by voters in 2014, funds the public benefit aspects of water storage projects: specifically, ecosystem improvement, water quality improvement, flood control, recreation and emergency response. Applications for Proposition 1 funding must detail these public benefits, among other criteria, to receive funding.

Many initial funding applications did not include sufficient information about public benefits so the Commission provided another opportunity in February for applicants to submit additional information. Ten applicants submitted additional information about the public benefits of the proposed project.

Staff analyzed the new information and issued revised assessments of the public benefits today. Based on this updated assessment, the Commission will be able to potentially allocate all the available water storage funding this summer.
The updated staff assessments of public benefit will be considered by the Commission at its May 1-3 meeting. A summary is available here.

“We appreciate the hard work of the applicants who submitted new details about the potential public benefits of these water storage projects,” Commission Chair Armando Quintero said. “Our staff took this new information into account and released new assessments that will help our Commission make decisions at our next meeting in May. We are on track to potentially award all of the available funding for new water storage projects this summer – fulfilling the requirements of Proposition 1 and marking a significant step toward expanding the state’s water storage capacity,” Quintero added.

The diverse range of projects under review include expanding existing reservoirs, boosting groundwater storage and building new surface water storage facilities.

Proposition 1 set up a complex, competitive process for assessing and funding potential water storage projects through the Water Storage Investment Program. The public benefit assessment is only one of multiple criteria used to award funds. The other components include relative environmental value, resiliency and implementation risk — factors that will be assessed next.

Proposition 1 dedicated $2.7 billion for the water storage program. As noted at the beginning of the application process, 2 percent of that amount is set aside for bond financing and 2.5 percent is set aside for state administrative costs over the life of the program, so the total funding available is $2.582 billion.

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