Each year, California has an estimated $2-3 billion gap in funding for the state’s water needs. Thse chronically underfunded areas include groundwater recharge, stormwater management, aging infrastructure, and safe drinking water in disadvantaged communities.
At a Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee informational hearing on November 16th, a panel of water experts from different sectors of the water community described these gaps in funding. CWC’s Co-Executive Director Laurel Firestone emphasized the immense resources gap for safe, affordable drinking water in small, disadvantaged communities, including schools.
Laurel stressed the issue of ongoing operations and maintenance costs and unaffordable rates, as well as the need for better and more transparent data tracking California’s drinking water crisis. She advised the Senate Committee to implement consolidations and regional solutions and to promote sustainable land use and permitting patterns for more sustainable water use.
Senator Lois Wolk and Lester Snow, Executive Director of the California Water Foundation, discussed a public goods charge as a promising method to alleviate funding gaps. Other panelists included Lester Snow, California Water Foundation; Ellen Hanak, PPIC; Kenneth Farfsing, City of Carson; Melinda Terry, Central Valley Flood Control Association; Anthony Zampiello, Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster; and Xavier Irias, American Society of Civil Engineering Restoration & Stewardship.
Senator Fran Pavley, Chair of the Committee, said the hearing was the “beginning of the discussion” on unmet water needs and how to fund them. She said the issue will be taken up again when the Legislature convenes in January.
Watch the full hearing on CalChannel.