Storage Proponents Fear Impacts of Prop. 1 Climate Change Requirements
Proponents of water storage projects that would be partially funded by Prop. 1 are concerned that possible climate change parameters required by the state could hinder the advance of longstanding proposals.
“We are concerned that the time, effort and cost associated with complying with these analysis requirements will limit the number of projects that the Commission will ultimately be able to consider for funding,” Adam Robin with the Association of California Water Agencies told the California Water Commission in July.
The Commission is in the midst of finalizing regulations that would govern the disbursement of $2.7 billion in public money available for surface and groundwater storage projects under 2014’s Prop. 1 water bond.
The Commission has until Dec. 15 to finalize the regulations that will quantify the public benefits of proposed storage projects such as Sites Reservoir in Colusa County and Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin River upstream from Friant Dam. The Commission estimates that as many 40 storage proposals could be received in 2017 once the regulations are finalized. There is not presently a deadline for application submittals because the regulations have not been completed.
Backed by Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive order requiring climate change to be factored into investment decisions, the Commission is requiring applicants for Prop. 1 storage funding to show how their project would be impacted by climate change conditions in the near future ( 2030) and the late future (2070).
“The idea is to deliver a grant process that gets us the most efficient water projects for the Prop. 1 money,” said David Gutierrez, program manager with the Department of Water Resources’ Sustainable Groundwater Program. “We are not intending this to be used to evaluate the viability of any one project. Instead, we are trying to make a comparative analysis.”
Storage proponents are anxious to move forward with their projects. In late June, the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority began the funding application process for Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir, a $2.8 billion project that would create 1.2 million acre-feet of new storage.
The climate change analysis requirement will have “significant implications” for Prop. 1 funding applicants for water storage, Robin said, adding months to the submittal process.
Factoring climate change into investment decisions, Gutierrez said, “is difficult because we are trying to balance between being technically sound and sophisticated enough, yet we need to appreciate the infancy of climate science.”