On October 15, the Senate Select Committee on Delta Stewardship and Sustainability, chaired by Senator Lois Wolk, received a report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) on “Funding and Options for Near-Term Action in the Delta.”
Interesting details from the report:
- Of $405 million in Delta-related expenditures by the State, 30 percent ($123 million) will go to Conveyance/Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) under the final 2012-13 budget.
- Levee system integrity is slated for about 23 percent in expenditures ($93 million), with matters like ecosystem restoration and water quality budgeted to receive less than levees.
- Construction of conveyance (i.e. Peripheral Tunnels) “is unlikely to take place within the next 10 to 15 years.” The report doesn’t elaborate on that statement.
According to the LAO report, the State share of funding for levee maintenance, flood control projects, and ecosystem restoration comes mostly from state bond funds approved by voters in propositions 50, 84, and 1E. Currently, $582 million in bond funds has not been appropriated by the Legislature. But the report says “It is likely that there is a larger amount of bond funds that could be available [for Delta-related projects] from bond funds that have been appropriated by the Legislature, but to committed to a specific projects at this time. This amount is estimated to be over $1 billion . . . .”
The report notes that both the Delta Stewardship Council and the Delta Protection Commission have developed lists of Delta-related activities that could begin prior to construction of conveyance. In addition, a group of Delta stakeholders has identified 53 activities costing an estimated $770 million that could start within the next five years.
This group, the Coalition to Support Near-Term Delta Projects, includes Delta residents, water agencies from around the state, and environmental groups that met for six months beginning in the Spring of 2012 to identify actions that could be taken in the Delta without prejudicing the outcome of the BDCP or the Delta Plan.
The LAO report reflects a broad recognition that a great deal of necessary and useful work can be done in the Delta regardless of what happens with the BDCP. And there appears to be money available to do much of that work.
Click here to read the report.