News Feature | January 17, 2014

Over $600 Million Goes To Water In California Budget Proposal

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

jerryreg
California Gov. Jerry Brown devoted a significant portion of his proposed $154.9 billion budget to water management and infrastructure.

A new budget proposal for the state of California places a major emphasis on tackling the water crisis. 

As E&E News put it, "California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signaled the severity of the water shortages by devoting a significant portion of his proposed $154.9 billion budget to shoring up water management and infrastructure."

The proposal comes as drought conditions in the state threaten "drinking water supplies, crops and fish habitat," E&E News said. 

"The budget supports improved management of our water resources," a summary document said. "The Water Action Plan identifies key steps over the next five years to craft more sustainable water policies."

That includes a proposal to spend $619 million to expand water storage capacity, improve drinking water in communities where available supplies are substandard, increase flood protection, and increase regional self‐reliance, the summary document said. 

The Water Action Plan contained in the plan is an "integrated effort [geared] to address the state’s environmental challenges in the coming decades."

For instance, the summary said the state would use some proceeds from a separate, proposed Cap and Trade program aimed at reducing global warming "to improve water efficiency and restore wetlands and watersheds—key goals of the water plan."

The budget also aims to alter some existing water programs, proposing "to transfer $200.3 million ($5 million General Fund) and 291.2 positions for the administration of the Drinking Water Program from the Department to the State Water Resources Control Board." 

Such changes come as a result of problems with administration of drinking water funds, Valley Public Radio explained

"Last year, the Department of Public Health came under fire for failing to spend almost a half billion dollars to provide drinking water to communities that need it," the report said. 

California is in what many call a water crisis, with stakeholders pressuring the state to declare a drought. 

Brown met with water managers this week "amid a growing push for him to declare a drought emergency," the Modesto Bee reported.  

For more on the government's influence on the water sector, check out Water Online's Regulations and Legislation Solution Center

Image credit: "Jerry Brown," © 2010 Neon Tommy, used under a Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/3

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