LAO Report on the November $8.9 billion ballot initiative to fund water projects
The Legislative Analyst’s Office prepared this handout for the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife and Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 On Resources and Transportation on the November ballot initiative.
The initiative authorizes the state to sell $8.9 billion in new general obligation bonds to fund projects for water supply and quality, watershed, fish, wildlife, water conveyance, and groundwater sustainability and storage.
Delta Levee Financing Feasibility Study completed
At the May meeting of the Delta Protection Commission, commission members reviewed the completed Delta Flood Risk Management Assessment District Feasibility Study and Delta Levee Financing Options report, unanimously voting to submit the report to the Department of Water Resources.
The study was undertaken as a response to a recommendation in the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan that a Delta levee assessment district with the authority to collect fees to pay for levee maintenance and emergency response be created with the objective of providing a funding mechanism that would assure that all of the entities who benefit from Delta levees pay a share of the costs that matches the benefits they receive.
Currently, levee maintenance and repairs are funded through assessments by local reclamation districts and funding provided through the State through appropriations from the general fund and general obligation bonds. However, those who benefit from the Delta levees include many entities and individuals who reside outside of the Delta; those benefits include flood protection for highways, roads, utility lines and conduits; and protection of urbanized areas.
More importantly, the report notes that water exporters derive significant benefits from Delta levees for both water conveyance and for protection of habitat, but currently exporters do not currently pay directly to maintain those levees. Furthermore, federal facilities are exempted under federal law from paying State or local assessments, fees, or taxes.
The team of Delta Protection Commission staff and consultants determined that such an assessment district is likely infeasible and would be inadequate for covering all beneficiaries from Delta levees. The study then considered several new revenue collection mechanisms.
The study is not intended as a recommendation to replace the current funding programs or cost shares nor it is also not a recommendation to implement any of the mechanisms; rather, it is intended to narrow the menu of feasible funding mechanisms. The study notes that each of the conceptual funding mechanisms have technical and legal issues that would affect the ability to collect revenues from beneficiaries as intended.
The report notes that the Central Valley Flood Protection Board and the Department of Water Resources will be initiating a stakeholder engagement process to evaluate potential new funding mechanisms to provide additional funding for levee projects and other flood protection measures.
To read the report, click here: Delta Flood Risk Management Assessment District Feasibility Study and Delta Levee Financing Options report
Weekly Water and Climate Update: Wildfires ignite across the West
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. Eleven large wildfires are currently burning in the U.S., with most of them centered in the Southwest. The largest, the 416 Fire near Durango, Colorado, has grown to over 27,000 acres with 15% containment. Hot and dry weather is helping to fuel these fires, and mandatory evacuations have been ordered from southern California to Colorado.
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