California Spends $2.7B on Surface and Groundwater Storage

In 2014, voters passed Proposition 1, a $7.545 billion general obligation bond to fund ecosystems and watershed protection, as well as restoration and water supply infrastructure projects. $2.7 billion was granted to the California Water Commission, who was tasked with allocating the money to surface and groundwater storage projects in California through the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP).

Proposition 1 requires that funds only be spent on aspects of a project that provides a public benefit, such as water quality improvements, improvements to the delta, flood benefits, emergency response, and recreation— a new and innovative process that set an important precedent for water storage investments in California. WSIP was given the important task of allocating this funding for surface and groundwater storage projects around the state in accordance to Prop 1 guidelines.

Prioritizing Public Benefit

The Water Commission adopted WSIP regulations in February of 2017 with applications due in August of the same year. This was a rigorous timeline as applicants were required to quantify and monetize the benefits of their project—the first regulation of its kind for water storage projects—and required a significant amount of data, modeling, as well as economic and environmental analysis to determine.

Each project was awarded a score, determined by its level of public benefit. For example, increasing recreational opportunities, improving instream flows in rivers, or engaging in habitat restoration and conservation would increase a project’s public benefit and subsequent WSIP score. The score awarded to the project ultimately determined the total funding applicants received.

Funding allocations for the projects were finalized on July 24, 2018. Of the twelve projects that applied for more than $5 billion ($5,516,600,000) in funding, $2,581,601,000 of that amount will be granted to eight projects throughout the state.

Below is a chart showing all of the projects that will be funded through WSIP:

ApplicantProjectAmount of Funding
TOTAL $2,581,601,000
Contra Costa Water DistrictLos Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project$459,000,000
Inland Empire Utilities DistrictChino Basin Conjunctive Use Storage/Exchange Program$206,900,000
Irvine Ranch Water District/Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage DistrictKern Fan Groundwater Storage Project $67,537,315
Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (Regional San) South County Ag Program $280,500,000
San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure AuthorityTemperance Flat Reservoir Project $171,330,000
Santa Clara Valley Water DistrictPacheco Reservoir Expansion Project $484,550,000
Sites Project AuthoritySites Project $816,377,686
Southern California Water Bank AuthorityWillow Springs Water Bank Conjunctive Use Project $95,405,999

 

Regional San is awarded $280.5M for the South County Ag Program

Conservation Strategy Group worked with the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (Regional San) to secure $280.5 million of funding for their South Sacramento County Agriculture & Habitat Lands Recycled Water Program—a program that truly embodies the vision many had when supporting Proposition 1.  The project is one of the largest proposed water recycling projects in the state, providing 50,000 acre-feet of recycled water per year with the capacity to irrigate up to 16,000 acres of agricultural, habitat mitigation, and conservation lands in south Sacramento County. Some of the unique public benefits of this project include:

  • Restore groundwater levels to support over 5,000 acres of wetlands and riparian forests.
  • Reverse groundwater flow direction back into the Cosumnes River to increase instream flows.
  • Increase the number of days that support fall-run Chinook salmon passage by 34%.
  • Develop a landowner incentive program which will create wildlife friendly practices that benefit wildlife species.

Looking Ahead

While allocations have been finalized, funding is contingent upon several factors including permitting, securing and resolving water rights, and ensuring project goals are realized. CSG is looking forward to its continued work with Regional San, the California Water Commission, and other stakeholders.

As climate change continues to increase variability and extreme climate conditions, it is more important than ever that California works to secure and sustain our water resources. To achieve this, we must look underground. Restoring and replenishing our groundwater basins will provide cost-effective water storage that is more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

For more information on the Water Storage Investment Program, please contact Kim Schneider (kim@csgcalifornia.com) at 916-558-1516. To learn more about other CSG projects and services check out www.csgcalifornia.com. To stay up-to-date on major policy issues in California, sign-up for our Policy Blog emails here.

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