ACWA Supports State Senate’s $3.41 Billion Drought and COVID-19 Water Debt Relief Package

  • by ACWA Staff
  • Apr 29, 2021
  • News Releases

SACRAMENTO – The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and many of its member agencies testified in support today for the Senate’s $3.41 billion drought relief package that would provide needed funding for many water management categories and related tools, such as atmospheric rivers research, and relief for Californians who have accumulated water and wastewater bill debt due to COVID-19’s financial impacts.

The package passed out of the Senate Budget Subcommittee 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy hearing by a 4-0 vote and now moves to the Senate Budget Committee for consideration.

“ACWA applauds Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins’ leadership and strongly supports the Senate’s proposal for drought and COVID-19 water relief funding,” ACWA Executive Director Dave Eggerton said.

The package includes funding for several key areas, including:

  • $1 billion to help ratepayers, community water systems, wastewater treatment works and public utilities recover from COVID-19 economic impacts
  • $500 million for immediate community assistance for drought relief
  • $500 million for water-use efficiency
    • $250 million for urban water-use efficiency
    • $250 million for agricultural water-use efficiency, including irrigation and treatment ponds
  • $350 million for sustainable groundwater management
  • $200 million for resilient water infrastructure projects
  • $200 million for recycled water
  • $200 million for stormwater management
  • $285 million for fish and wildlife protection from drought impacts
  • $100 million for water quality, including PFAS remediation and septic to sewer conversions
  • $75 million for water data and forecast improvement for forecast-informed reservoir operation (FIRO), groundwater recharge and flood risk management, including atmospheric rivers research

With some regions, such as the Russian River Watershed, already experiencing severe drought conditions, local water managers across the state strongly support today’s action on drought funding.

Also in the state budget process, ACWA continues to actively support the governor’s budget proposal to allocate $125 million in Prop 68 funds for habitat restoration projects. Beyond the Legislature’s and Newsom Administration’s discussions in the state budget process, discussions regarding additional funding needed in categories noted above and other categories will continue as the Legislature develops a climate resilience bond. ACWA continues to advocate extensively for increased water infrastructure funding for water resilience in the proposed 2022 climate resilience bond.

The Senate’s proposal includes $1 billion in funding to help address COVID-19-related customer debt at community water systems, including public water agencies, wastewater treatment works and publicly owned electric utilities. ACWA advocated for the federal funding that is making this possible and supports the Senate’s proposal in this area.

“ACWA and its member agencies have concurred with the temporary suspension of the authority to discontinue services for nonpayment,” Eggerton said. “The Senate’s action to move expeditiously on administration of COVID-19 relief funding is key to helping the customers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and the public water agencies at which water customer debt is accruing.”

Media representatives looking for more information about local public water agency efforts to create a more resilient water supply can find examples at www.acwa.com/drought.

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