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Newsom Signs Bill To Provide $131.3 Million In Emergency Relief, Including Safe Water

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed his first bill, which will provide $131.3 million in immediate relief from the state’s general fund for emergencies such as a lack of clean drinking water, while surrounded by children at a Parlier elementary school – all of whom must drink from water bottles due to unsafe drinking fountains. His signature on AB 72, which passed the Legislature unanimously, was briefly in jeopardy. Prior to signing, he polled the students at Riverview Elementary School on whether he should put pen to paper. One young man dissented.

Another Looming Climate Disaster: Dam Collapses

Major dams in California are five times more likely to flood this century than the last one due to global warming, a new study finds, possibly leading to overtopping and catastrophic failures that threaten costly repairs and evacuations. That means Californians can expect more disasters like the Oroville Dam, whose overflow channel failed in 2017 after days of flooding had filled state reservoirs to 85% of their capacity, leading to the evacuation of more than 180,000 people and losses of around $300 million.

EPA Awards $614M Loan To Bolster San Diego Water Project

San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer joined the acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to officially accept a $614 million federal loan to help finance the first phase of Pure Water San Diego — an innovative water recycling program that will provide one-third of the city’s drinking supply by 2035. “This federal funding is validation that our Pure Water Program is cutting edge technology and a worthy investment for San Diego’s future water independence,” Faulconer said. “This is going to be one of the most significant infrastructure projects in San Diego history and will deliver clean, reliable water to our residents for decades to come.”

Why L.A. Is Having Such A Wet Winter After Years Of Drought Conditions

With every storm this winter, climatologists and water managers have crossed their fingers, hoping for continued rain and snowfall to cushion the state’s water supply. So far, the streak has held. This week is expected to bring the heaviest rainfall of the season to date, adding to an already wet winter that has replenished reservoirs and created a healthy snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, a major source of California’s water supply. Climatologist Michael Anderson said that after hovering just below average precipitation levels, the state has now reached above-usual levels — with an average of 11.85 inches of precipitation across the state from October through January.

A ‘Water Tax’ Is Looking Increasingly Likely

In the past five years, California voters have approved over $10 billion in statewide bonds to fund water projects, some in areas could not otherwise afford to improve their own water systems. Now, faced with perhaps several million Californians who still lack access to safe and affordable water, the Legislature looks increasingly likely to impose a statewide tax to fund more water projects. In a legislative hearing last week, Wade Crowfoot, the new director of the state’s Natural Resources Agency, said Gov. Gavin Newsom wants a solution this year to this “crisis” this year.