Governor Gavin Newsom today introduced his 2023-24 state budget proposal. Funding for water resilience and drought is included under the climate change section.
The budget for 2021 and 2022 allocated approximately $54 billion over five years to address climate change; Newsom’s proposal maintains approximately $48 billion (or 89 percent). With the projected decline of revenues, the budget proposal across several programs which are partially offset by shifts to other funding sources. These reductions will be restored if there is sufficient revenue next year.
The specifics are below; the budget proposal for climate change spending is embedded at the bottom of this post.
Drought response and water resilience
California is experiencing large swings between drought and flood, and due to climate change, those swings are becoming more severe. Last year, water project operators made only minimal deliveries to farms and cities, and wildlife managers took extraordinary action to protect fish and wildlife.
The three-year period from 2020 to 2022 is now the driest on record going back to 1896. The recent winter storms have provided the best start to California’s snowpack in over a decade. However, as seen last winter, a wet December led to above average snowfall but was followed by the driest January, February, and March on record.
In August 2022, Governor Newsom announced “California’s Water Supply Strategy, Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future,” which lays out California’s strategy and priority actions to adapt and protect water supplies in an era of rising temperatures. It calls for investing in new sources of water supply, accelerating projects, and modernizing how the state manages water through new technology. As California continues to experience weather swings that deliver temporary boosts to the snowpack, there is intensifying flood risk, even during drought. The new normal extreme weather patterns place a heightened importance on flood preparedness and response.
The 2021 and 2022 Budget Acts committed $8.7 billion over multiple years to support drought resilience and response designed to help communities and fish and wildlife avoid immediate negative impacts as a result of extreme drought, while continuing to advance projects and programs that prepare the state to be more resilient to future droughts and floods.
The Budget maintains $8.6 billion (98 percent) of previously committed funding to minimize the immediate economic and environmental damage from the current drought and support hundreds of local water projects to prepare for and be more resilient to future droughts. The Budget includes $194 million in General Fund reductions across various programs. If there is sufficient General Fund in January 2024, reductions not otherwise delayed will be restored. See the Introduction Chapter for further information on this trigger.
In addition, the Budget also includes new strategic investments to continue supporting the state’s drought response, accelerate implementation of the state’s water supply strategy, and increase flood preparedness and response.
SIGNIFICANT BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS
Urban Flood Risk Reduction—$135.5 million General Fund over two years to support local agencies working to reduce urban flood risk.
Delta Levees—$40.6 million General Fund for ongoing Delta projects that reduce risk of levee failure and flooding, provide habitat benefits, and reduce the risk of saltwater intrusion contaminating water supplies.
Central Valley Flood Protection—$25 million General Fund to support projects that will reduce the risk of flooding for Central Valley communities while contributing to ecosystem restoration and agricultural sustainability.
2023 Drought Contingency—$125 million General Fund one-time as a drought contingency set-aside to be allocated as part of the spring budget process, when additional water data will be available to inform future drought needs.
Planning and Permitting for New Water Supplies—$4.7 million Waste Discharge Permit Fund in 2023-24, and $5.7 million Waste Discharge Permit Fund and $408,000 Safe Drinking Water Account ongoing to support planning and permitting for projects that produce new water supplies.
Modernizing Water Rights—$31.5 million General Fund one-time in 2023-24 to continue development of the Updating Water Rights Data for California Project to enhance California’s water management capabilities.
Urban Water Use Objectives—$7 million General Fund over four years to implement Chapter 679, Statutes of 2022, (SB 1157), which established a new foundation for long-term improvements in water conservation and drought planning to adapt to climate change and the resulting longer and more intense droughts. This approach is based on water use efficiency standards for certain categories of water use, including indoor residential water use.
San Joaquin River Basin Groundwater Recharge: Water Availability Analysis and Technical Assistance—$4.9 million General Fund over five years to continue to provide local water districts methodologies and tools to conduct water availability analyses, which will help facilitate groundwater recharge, one of the core pillars of the Water Supply Strategy.
Stream Gages—$4.7 million General Fund over two years to begin reactivation of historical stream gages, consistent with the SB 19 Stream Gaging Prioritization Plan and as called for in the Water Supply Strategy.
ADDRESSING THE BUDGET PROBLEM
Watershed Resilience Programs—A reduction of $24 million General Fund in 2023-24 and a delay of an additional $270 million General Fund to 2024-25. This maintains approximately $470 million (95 percent) across various watershed resilience programs.
Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Cleanup—A reduction of $70 million General Fund in 2023-24 and a delay of an additional $30 million General Fund to 2024-25. This maintains approximately $130 million (65 percent) of PFAS cleanup resources.
Water Recycling—A reduction of $40 million General Fund in 2023-24. This maintains approximately $760 million (95 percent) to support water recycling and groundwater clean-up.
State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program—A reduction of $40 million General Fund in 2022-23. This maintains approximately $120 million (75 percent) to support farm water use efficiency projects.
Aqueduct Solar Panels—A reduction of $15 million General Fund in 2021-22. This maintains approximately $20 million (57 percent) to support aqueduct solar panel pilot studies.
Water Refiling Stations at Schools—A reduction of $5 million General Fund in 2022-23, which eliminates funding for this purpose.
Wildfire and forest resilience
The ongoing impact of climate change on California’s wildlands continues to drive critically dry fuel conditions and longer, more severe fire seasons. The 2021 and 2022 Budget Acts committed $2.8 billion over four years to continue strengthening forest and wildfire resilience statewide.
The Budget maintains $2.7 billion (97 percent) of funding to advance critical investments in forest health and fire prevention to continue to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, as well as resources for fire protection in the state’s wildfire response. The Budget includes $91 million in General Fund reductions across various programs, which are partially offset by a $14 million shift to Proposition 98. If there is sufficient General Fund in January 2024, reductions not otherwise offset by other funds will be restored. See the Introduction Chapter for further information on this trigger.
SIGNIFICANT BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS
Climate Catalyst Fund—A reduction of $10 million General Fund in 2020-21 and $31 million in 2021-22. This maintains approximately $8 million (16 percent) to support the Climate Catalyst Fund.
Stewardship of State-Owned Lands—A reduction of $10 million General Fund in 2022-23 and $15 million in 2023-24. This maintains approximately $280 million (92 percent) for resilient forests and landscapes on state-owned lands.
Defensible Space Inspections—A reduction of $5 million General Fund in 2023-24. This maintains approximately $20 million (80 percent) to support defensible space inspections.
Monitoring and Research—A reduction of $5 million General Fund in 2023-24. This maintains approximately $33 million (87 percent) to support monitoring and research.
Workforce Training—A reduction of $15 million General Fund in 2023-24, which is partially offset by a shift of $14 million to Proposition 98 for similar purposes. This maintains approximately $53 million (98 percent) to support workforce training.
Klamath Dam removal
This spring, work begins to remove dams, improve river health, address declines in fish populations and support communities in the Klamath Basin. Removal of the four hydroelectric dams in California and Oregon will restore access to hundreds of miles of habitat unreachable for salmon and steelhead for more than a century and revitalize tribal communities and lifeways for generations to come.
The Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, signed by both Oregon and California governors in 2010 and amended in 2016, contemplated dam removal to achieve free-flowing conditions for fish passage, restoration, and transfer of project lands for recreation, restoration, and further Tribal partnerships. In November 2022, the Federal Energy Commission gave final approval for a plan to remove the dams in California and Oregon.
The Budget includes $2 million General Fund in 2023-24 and $1.3 million ongoing and five permanent positions for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to establish two new programs to support the protection and management of fish and wildlife, recreational opportunities, and collaborative Tribal partnerships before, during, and after dam removal.