Sacramento, CA — Two Mother Lode lawmakers have joined a Bi-Partisan coalition to step up groundwater funding using the state budget.
Republican Senator Tom Berryhill and Assemblymember Frank Bigelow signed a letter requesting that General Fund dollars be put in the 2015-16 state budget to fund local groundwater plans. The Bi-Partisan letter argues using money from the Proposition 1 water bond to fund these plans will delay the release of these dollars until sometime in 2016.
Here is the letter sent to the Assembly and Senate budget subcommittee chairs:
RE: Using the General Fund for Local Groundwater Grants in the 2015-16 Budget
Dear Chairman Bloom and Chairwoman Walk,
We are requesting that the funding source for the $21.3 million in the Governor’s proposed 2015-16 Budget “for grants for projects that develop and implement local groundwater plans” be shifted from Proposition 1 to the General Fund. We are concerned that with the requirements tied to the public process for Proposition 1 grant programs, the Department of Water Resources would not be able to award grants until sometime in 2016. The delay in awarding funding is important when considering the substantial work that needs to be completed to meet the deadlines contained in the Sustainable Ground 1 Water Management Act of 2014 (SGMA) for the new groundwater management requirements. This funding is critical as local agencies work together in forming local Ground Water Sustainability Agencies, which has to occur prior to June 30, 2017.
The General Fund dollars can be administered by DWR through the existing Local Groundwater Assistance Program. This program has been used for more than a decade by DWR to distribute grant funding to local entities to improve local groundwater management, including the development of groundwater management plans. In the past, applicants could submit proposals for up to $250,000 in grant funding. DWR has administered eight separate grant solicitations for this program and it has been very successful in funding the development of local groundwater management plans.
If the funding is provided through the General Fund, the $21.3 million would be used to help fund [forts for local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies to organize and further develop nearly 80 groundwater sustainability plans in accordance with the new criteria established with the passage of the SGMA. This program would be a very effective way to jumpstart the implementation of the SGMA. Using the General Fund will effectively allow funded work to occur up to a year earlier than if Proposition 1 funding is used. The added time will be of great value to those meeting the deadlines established in the SGMA.