Drought Response and Water Resilience Addressed

Money from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s State budget will help provide funding for water infrastructure projects in Southern California and throughout the state. It comes at a time when many communities are working to ensure a reliable supply of clean water during a drought.

Where funding will go

As the governor noted in the text of the State budget, this funding “reflects lessons learned in the 2012-16 drought, including a need to prepare and respond sooner to multi-year dry conditions, address environmental needs, and improve water data systems that allow managers to make better informed decisions.”

A total of $5.1 billion over four years will support immediate drought response and long-term water resilience. This includes $2.1 billion that is set aside for water resilience investments that will be negotiated this summer.

Current investments include:

  • $1.3 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, with a focus on small and disadvantaged communities.
  • $150 million for groundwater cleanup and water recycling projects.
  • $300 million for Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation to improve water supply security, water quality and water reliability.
  • $200 million for water conveyance improvements to repair major water delivery systems damaged by subsidence.
  • $500 million for multi-benefit land repurposing to provide long-term, flexible support for water users.
  • $230 million for wildlife corridor and fish passage projects to improve the ability of wildlife to migrate safely.
  • $200 million for habitat restoration to support tidal wetland, floodplain, and multi-benefit flood-risk reduction projects.
  • $91 million for critical data collection to repair and augment the state’s water data infrastructure to improve forecasting, monitoring, and assessment of hydrologic conditions.
  • $60 million for State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program grants to help farmers reduce irrigation water use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural pumping.
  • $33 million for fisheries and wildlife support to protect and conserve California’s diverse ecosystems.
  • $27 million for emergency and permanent solutions to drinking water drought emergencies.

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As part of immediate drought support, funding will support the repair and enhancement of the state’s water data infrastructure; the state cost-share of a federal desalination research hub; equipment; resources to help address drought impacts on state wildlife areas; and address the increased need for species monitoring and project permitting.

Some of these funds will directly impact SoCal residents. For example, San Diego will benefit with $50 million to be used on the city’s Pure Water program, a phased, multi-year program that will provide more than 40% of San Diego’s water supply locally by the end of 2035. Another $3.1 million will go toward preventing polluted stormwater runoff from entering Chollas Creek , an urban creek in San Diego that drains to the San Diego Bay.

As noted in the State Budget, “getting Californians back to work is key to a broad-based and equitable labor market recovery.” With funding to invest in reuse water projects, drought support, water supply, and natural habitat restoration projects around the state, it can help us become more drought resilient, fight climate change, and create thousands of new jobs.

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