SACRAMENTO — With California water allocations slashed to only 5 percent following another dry winter, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) announced that she is seeking ideas from her Central Valley constituents for ways that California can conserve water and remain resilient in the face of devastating drought conditions.
“California needs our best ideas, and no region is affected by drought more than the Central Valley – our families and farmers power the greatest agricultural region in the world,” Hurtado said. “I’m asking the residents of Senate District 14 to share their policy ideas and budget suggestions for how we cope with reduced water. We can overcome these difficult times, but only when we hear from all Californians.”
Constituents with ideas should submit them using Senator Hurtado’s website. (https://sd14.senate.ca.gov/water-drought-proposals). Ideas should be submitted no later than April 30, 2021.
On March 23, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced that it expects to deliver 5 percent of requested water supplies this year, down from the initial allocation of 10 percent announced in December. DWR-distributed water goes to State Water Project contractors who serve more than 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland. A USDA study reports that drought periods will continue to grow in the west and more needs to be done.
During this legislative session, Senator Hurtado introduced Senate Bill 559, which allocates $785 million to repairing vital water delivery systems that provide drinking water to communities throughout California and water to sustain the state’s leading agricultural economy. The funds would go to fixing the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta-Mendota Canal and major portions of the California Aqueduct, all of which have degraded and are losing water as a result of subsidence – the actual shrinking of land. The Senator is also a co-author of the Water Innovation Act of 2021, which will create the Office of Water Innovation at the California Water Commission-furthering new technologies and other approaches within the water sector.
In prior legislative sessions, Senator Hurtado secured $15 million for a one-time budget investment to provide safe drinking water to southern Central Valley vulnerable communities. The Senator was also a principal co-author of Senate Bill 200, which provided an additional $130 million for safe drinking water for communities in her district. To help communities counteract the impacts of the last drought, she authored Senate Bill 513, which expanded grant funding for families to install emergency water tanks.
Last year, Senator Hurtado’s Senate Bill 974 created California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemptions for small, disadvantaged community water systems to install, repair or reconstruct their water infrastructure to address water contamination and improve safe drinking water supply. This exemption will help disadvantaged communities address their water needs, providing resources to upgrade infrastructure that serves more than 1 million Californians.