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What Can We Learn From How the State Responded to the Last Major Drought?


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[PDF] The 2016-17 Budget: The State's Drought Response

February 5, 2016 - Despite welcome storms early this winter, statewide drought conditions appear far from over. This report (1) describes the current drought and its impacts across the state, (2) summarizes the state's drought response appropriations and activities thus far, (3) assesses the Governor's drought-related budget proposals for 2016-17, and (4) recommends steps the Legislature can take to address drought both in the coming year and the future.

Hearing Handout

[PDF] How Did the State Respond to the Last Major Drought?

May 5, 2021 - Presented to: Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife Hon. Eduardo Garcia, Chair

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The 2019-20 Budget: Natural Resources and Environmental Protection

February 14, 2019 - In this report, we assess several of the Governor’s budget proposals in the natural resources and environmental protection areas. Based on our review, we recommend various changes, as well as additional legislative oversight. We provide a complete listing of our recommendations at the end of this report.

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Expanding Access to Safe and Affordable Drinking Water in California—A Status Update

November 10, 2020 - In 2019 the Legislature passed and the Governor signed Chapter 120 (SB 200, Monning) establishing the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water (SADW) Fund, which provides up to $130 million annually for efforts to provide safe drinking water for every California community. The legislation tasked the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) with administering the funding and overseeing efforts to implement both short‑ and long‑term solutions to persistent drinking water problems. One year later, SWRCB has made good progress in establishing spending priorities, beginning to allocate funds and execute projects, and collecting essential data to identify the communities that should be targeted for improvements. However, the state is still in the very early stages of implementation. Given the serious threats to public health, safety, and environmental justice posed by existing drinking water deficiencies, the Legislature will want to continue conducting robust oversight over how efforts to rectify these conditions proceed.

Hearing Handout

[PDF] Major Water Related Proposals in the Governor's 2015-16 Budget

February 12, 2015 - Presented to the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Hon. Mark Leno, Chair

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Residential Water Use Trends and Implications for Conservation Policy

March 8, 2017 - For the past two years, urban water agencies in California have been submitting monthly data on residential water use to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The monthly update covering December 2016 was recently published on the board’s website, providing a full year of data for 2016. This web post discusses trends in residential water use and what these data imply for policymakers in the coming year.

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[PDF] A Perspective on the Drought in California

November 21, 1991 - Despite heavy rains in March 1991, California continues to face a serious near-term water problem resulting from five years of drought. In fact, the amount of water in storage on October 1, 1991 was about equal to the amount in storage one year ago—a year in which strict conservation measures were imposed in some areas and there were significant reductions in water supplies for many agricultural users. In this paper, we provide background information on California's water system, the impact of the drought, water needs in the future, and legislative options for coping with water supply limitations.

Hearing Handout

[PDF] Governor’s May Revision: 2015-16 Drought Package

May 17, 2015 -

Hearing Handout

[PDF] Improving Management of the State's Groundwater Resources

March 11, 2014 - Presented to: Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation

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[PDF] The 2014-15 Budget: Resources and Environmental Protection

February 21, 2014 - In this report, we analyze the Governor's 2014-15 budget for the state's resources and environmental protection programs. We review and make recommendations on a number of major policy proposals, including a review of the administration's recently released Water Action Plan as well as the proposal to reduce or eliminate several programs currently funded by the Beverage Container Recycling Fund (commonly referred to as the "bottle bill"). We find that these policy proposals are generally reasonable approaches, though we identify trade-offs in the proposals and offer recommendations for legislative consideration. The report also identifies several issues included in the Governor's budget that merit additional legislative oversight. This includes the proposal to provide the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection with a total of $43 million from the General Fund to address deferred maintenance backlogs. While we find that it makes fiscal sense to address deferred maintenance, there is uncertainty about what factors have contributed to the large backlogs, as well as how the state can best address maintenance needs on an ongoing basis.

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The 2021-22 Spending Plan: Natural Resources and Environmental Protection

October 18, 2021 - The 2021‑22 budget package provides a total of $21.7 billion from various fund sources—the General Fund, bond funds, and various special funds—for programs administered by the California Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agencies. This is a net increase of $4.8 billion (22 percent) compared to 2020‑21 estimated expenditures.

Correction 10/22/21: Funding amount for CDFW has been corrected.

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[PDF] The 2015-16 Budget: Effectively Implementing the 2014 Water Bond

February 11, 2015 - In August 2014, the Legislature approved Chapter 188, Statutes of 2014 (AB 1471, Rendon), which placed before the voters a water bond measure primarily aimed at increasing the supply of clean, safe, and reliable water and restoring habitat. On November 4, 2014, voters approved the water bond measure—Proposition 1. In this report, we (1) describe Proposition 1, (2) review the Governor’s proposals to implement the bond, (3) identify key implementation principles, and (4) recommend steps for the Legislature to ensure that the bond is implemented effectively.

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Liquid Assets: Improving Management of the State's Groundwater Resources

March 24, 2010 - California’s water system is facing a series of challenges affecting water availability, reliability, and delivery. Reevaluating how groundwater is managed is necessary if it is to achieve its full potential as a reliable source of water. In this report, we present the Legislature with a series of actions that would be phased in over a period of time to address current and emerging groundwater management issues, including bringing science and law together to accurately reflect the physical interconnection of surface water and groundwater.

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Achieving State Goals for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

January 15, 2015 - The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) is a biodiverse ecosystem that covers about 1,150 square miles and supports over 700 species of fish and wildlife. The Delta is an important source of water for the state and is used to convey water from Northern California to Southern California. The Delta faces several significant problems, including: (1) a decline in key native fish species, (2) reductions in the amount of Delta water available for use elsewhere, (3) water pollutants that cause harm to species and increase treatment costs, and (4) levees at significant risk of failure. The state has engaged in numerous efforts to address these problems and achieve its "coequal goals" for the Delta: water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration. There are many opportunities for the Legislature to improve the success of these efforts. We identified several issues for its consideration, including (1) demands for Delta water, (2) uncertain funding sources and slow implementation of some key activities, (3) limits on the effectiveness of governance in the Delta, and (4) challenges to restoring the Delta ecosystem. By addressing some of these issues, the Legislature can improve the likelihood that its goals and objectives for the Delta will be realized.