For Immediate Release: 1/11/22
Tim Stroshane, Restore the Delta, 510-847-7556, [email protected]
Stockton, CA – This week Governor Gavin Newsom released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2022-23. After two years of “unimaginable challenges” the governor states that, “This budget is a new opportunity for us to address the greatest challenges facing our state – for the year ahead and future generations. We must meet the moment once again.”
California’s Bay-Delta is currently on the brink. Delta smelt, an indicator species of ecosystem health, may have gone extinct. Zero delta smelt were found in the annual survey for a third year. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of winter-run Chinook salmon perished in Sacramento River warm water due to Bureau of Reclamation delivering Shasta Lake supplies to senior water right growers of rice and almonds. Harmful algal blooms have become a year-round issue for Bay-Delta communities and “temporary” clean water wavers are becoming permanent features of water management in the Delta.
Restore the Delta looked through the Governor’s proposed budget for reasons to be hopeful.
Here is our takeaway.
Tim Stroshane, policy analyst, Restore the Delta:
This budget proposal continues to play hide-the-ball about how much state funds are to be spent on the single Delta Tunnel project. The Delta Conveyance Program is not singled out in any one fund, as usual.
There is one reference in the January Budget Summary (p. 233) to water conveyance as part of $5.2 billion water and drought resilience initiative, but it’s just one of seven areas of funding for the initiative alongside groundwater recharge, Salton Sea, water supply reliability, water recycling, ecosystem restoration, and flood management.
Program Descriptions for 3240 describes Delta Conveyance Program as “improving Delta ecosystem and ensuring water supply reliability…” and provides funding for “project-specific environmental commitments,” EIR/EIS and other permit needs.
Most of the proposed water budget seems to center on small and rural community water systems for drought resilience and response investments/preparation. These are smart investments.
Now if he would apply that to saving the Bay-Delta estuary we could finally face one of the State’s “greatest challenges.” Governor Newsom understands what needs to happen.