California Water Commission
The California Water Commission consists of nine members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate. Seven members are chosen for their expertise related to the control, storage, and beneficial use of water and two are chosen for their knowledge of the environment. The Commission provides a public forum for discussing water issues, advises the Director of the Department of Water Resources on matters within the Department’s jurisdiction, approves rules and regulations, and monitors and reports on the construction and operation of the State Water Project. Proposition 1: The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act approved by voters in 2014, gave the Commission new responsibilities regarding the distribution of public funds set aside for the public benefits of water storage projects, and developing regulations for the quantification and management of those benefits. In 2018, the Commission made maximum conditional eligibility determinations for eight projects in the Water Storage Investment Program.
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Water Storage Investment Program Update
The Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) includes seven projects that would boost California’s water storage capacity by 2.77 million acre-feet. The projects range from expanding existing reservoirs to increasing groundwater storage to building 21st century surface storage facilities. Each project’s timeline to construction and operation may be different, but they all must meet a statutory deadline to ensure progress and remain eligible for WSIP funding. Per Proposition 1, by January 1, 2022, applicants must submit completed feasibility studies, draft environmental documents released for public review, and commitments for at least 75 percent of the non-program funding.
WSIP Early Funding
WSIP regulations allow for a portion of the Commission’s maximum conditional eligibility determination (MCED) to be awarded before the final funding hearing to assist with permits and environmental documents. Early funding cannot exceed 5% of a project’s MCED. In all, the Commission has awarded six projects early funding totaling $116 million. Early funding amounts: Chino Basin Program - $8,919,000. Harvest Water Program - $14,375,625. Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project - $22,950,000. Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project - $24,200,000. Sites Project - $40,818,884. Willow Springs Water Bank - $4,770,300.
WSIP Feasibility Determinations
The Commission must also find each project is feasible. The Commission anticipates making feasibility determinations for the seven projects at the following Commission meetings: October 20, 2021 - Harvest Water Program, Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project. November 17, 2021 - Chino Basin Program, Kern Fan Groundwater Storage Project, Willow Springs Water Bank Conjunctive Use Project. December 15, 2021 - Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project, Sites Project.
WSIP Project Screening
The California Water Commission’s Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) is accepting screening information for water storage projects that provide public benefits as defined by Proposition 1, Chapter 8. Proposition 1 includes a statutory deadline of January 1, 2022, by which time project proponents must have completed a feasibility study, have draft environmental documentation made available for public review, have received commitments for at least 75 percent of the non-public benefit cost share of the project, and have their project found feasible by the Commission. Any project submitted would need findings by the Commission no later than the December 2021 regularly scheduled Commission meeting. It is recommended and encouraged that project proponents submit screening proposals to Commission staff no later than October 22, 2021. If the Commission moves forward with additional regulations and a second solicitation, only projects successful in the screening process would be eligible to apply.