Panel Backs DWR Budget

By Published On: March 28, 2014

More than $6 million for water conservation and climate change adaptation in the Department of Water and Resources’ proposed 2014-15 budget got a thumb’s up from a Senate budget subcommittee March 27. The Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation recommended approving $4.6 million for water conservation and $400,000 for desalination grants. It also okayed $1.2 million to continue funding the department’s climate adaptation program as backed by the governor. Committee chair Sen. Jim Bealle (D-San Jose) urged that water conservation become a way of life. “The tech community strongly favors water conservation,” said Beale. “Like semiconductors, water use efficiency should constantly increase.” The department’s overall water conservation goal is to cut per capita use 20 percent by 2020. Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) supported the goal but noted the proposed funding “is quite minimal.” The department’s total upcoming budget is $3.5 billion, most of it from special funds—bonds and water ratepayers. Much of the money is to be used to support staff managing the vast State Water Project, which supplies drinking water to 25 million and irrigation water for 750,000 acres. Just under a billion dollars is for the DWR’s Electric Power Fund. Drought legislation enacted at the beginning of this month allocates $50 million in carbon cap-and-trade revenue to water-related efforts. It gives $20 million for water-energy efficiency and $30 million is for increasing wetlands’ ability to store carbon.

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