STREAM Act Introduced by ACWA Staff May 18, 2022 Water News WASHINGTON, D.C. —Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) on May 17 introduced S.4231, the Support to Rehydrate the Environment, Agriculture and Municipalities Act or STREAM Act, a bill that would increase water supply and modernize water infrastructure in California and throughout the West. “With drought conditions worsening, ACWA is pleased to support Senator Feinstein’s STREAM Act and appreciates her continued leadership on Western water issues. The STREAM Act would help address the current drought and assist communities in preparing for the effects of climate change by utilizing an every-tool-in-the-toolbox approach,” said ACWA Executive Director Dave Eggerton in a press release from Feinstein’s office. The STREAM Act includes major provisions to achieve each of these goals: Authorizes $750 million for storage, $300 million for water recycling, $150 million for desalination, $100 million for drinking water for disadvantaged communities and $150 million in a new, low-interest loan program for water supply projects. This builds on the $1.15 billion for storage, $550 million for water recycling and $250 million for desalination in the bipartisan infrastructure law In combination with the bipartisan infrastructure law, this funding would provide California with more than 1 million additional acre-feet of water per year on average, enough water for more than 6 million people, including: 532,000 additional acre-feet from water recycling projects; 85,000 additional acre-feet from water desalination projects; and 425,000 additional acre-feet from offstream storage and groundwater storage projects (including construction of Sites Reservoir, expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir and the raising of B.F. Sisk Dam, plus other potential projects like the Sacramento Regional Groundwater Bank and Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir). Financial incentives for storage and conveyance projects that enhance environmental benefits and expand drinking water access for disadvantaged communities include the following: The bill authorizes grants for storage and conveyance projects that include environmental benefits, drinking water benefits for disadvantaged communities or other public benefits either as part of the project design or as part of a watershed restoration plan adopted together with the project. The bill authorizes low-interest loans if they build storage and conveyance projects that solely provide irrigation and general municipal and industrial water supply benefits. (Sponsors of storage and conveyance projects generally prefer to receive federal grants rather than federal loans.) Access to grants gives project sponsors a strong financial incentive to design environmental and disadvantaged community benefits into their projects. This approach builds on the experience of the Proposition 1 water bond California’s voters passed by a 2-1 margin in 2014, which also incentivizes projects with environmental and other public benefits. Funding for separate environmental restoration projects includes: Authorizes $250 million for environmental restoration benefits, including helping imperiled species adapt to climate change. Authorizes an additional $50 million for natural water retention and release projects. These projects would help restore stream and river channels with natural materials like wetlands and could have multiple benefits, including increased groundwater recharge, improved flood protection and increased floodplain habitat to benefit salmon and other species. Authorizes funding to facilitate creation of essential seasonal habitat for migratory birds on fields fallowed by agricultural producers in the Sacramento Valley when they sell their water to other farmers and cities during times of drought. Authorizes pay-for-performance environmental restoration approaches that award grants contingent on the success of the restoration effort. These approaches can expedite environmental restoration and build public/private partnerships to increase the number of acres restored.