November 2017 – This Month in Sacramento

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Legislative Update
by Richard Markuson
Region 9 Legislative Advocate



Apply Today for the 2018 Water Leaders Class Applications are now being accepted for the 2018 William R. Gianelli Water Leaders Class. The one-year program fosters a deeper knowledge of water issues and leadership skills. Criteria for acceptance include a commitment to understanding water issues and an interest in seeking leadership roles on public boards and commissions, or key staff positions Applications for the yearlong program are due by Dec. 5. More information here


Legislation: The California State Legislature is currently on hiatus with the new session scheduled to begin in January 2018. Members are encouraged to hold “in-home District” meetings with their elected officials while the legislators are out of session. Here is the final status of Region 9 bills:


  • AB 28 (Frazier): Department of Transportation: environmental review process:  federal pilot program – Support: Re-enacts, until January 1, 2020, Caltrans’ authority to waive its 11th Amendment right to sovereign immunity from lawsuits brought in federal court thereby allowing Caltrans to continue assuming the role of the U.S. DOT for NEPA decision making. Chaptered
  • AB 56 (Holden): IBank Funding to Infrastructure Supporting Housing Production – Support: Permits the IBank, established in 1994, to promote “economic revitalization, enable future development, and encourage a healthy climate for jobs in California” for financing the infrastructure that supports housing production. Chaptered
  • AB 544 (Bloom): Vehicles: High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes – Support: Creates a new program to grant, until September 30, 2025, federal inherently low emission vehicles (ILEVs) and transitional zero-emission vehicles (TZEVs) access to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes for approximately a four-year period, regardless of vehicle occupancy level. Chaptered
  • AB 994 (Muratsuchi): Health care districts: design-build – Support: allows the board of directors of the Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) to use design-build contracting for construction of buildings. Chaptered
  • AB 1000 (Friedman): Water conveyance: use of facility with unused capacity – Oppose would have prohibited a transferor of water from using a water conveyance facility that has unused capacity to transfer water from a groundwater basin as specified, unless the State Lands Commission, in consultation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, finds that the transfer of the water will not adversely affect the natural or cultural resources, including groundwater resources or habitat, of those federal and state lands. 2-year bill
  • AB 1523 (Obernolte): San Bernardino County Transportation Authority: Design-Build – Support: authorizes the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) to use design-build contracting on one project in the City of San Bernardino. Chaptered
  • AB 1654 (Rubio): Water Conservation: Support: would enhance existing reporting and drought response requirements. Urban retail water suppliers would report annually to DWR on the status of their water supplies for that year and whether supplies will be adequate to meet projected customer demand. If supplies are not adequate to meet demand, the water supplier would be required to implement the appropriate responses as described in their water shortage contingency analysis. 2-year bill
  • AB 1671 (Caballero): Backflow Protection and Cross Connection Controls: Standards – Support: Requires the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) to, on or before January 1, 2020, adopt standards for backflow protection and cross-connection control. Chaptered
  • SB 1 (Beall): Transportation Funding – Support: Increases several taxes and fees to raise the equivalent of roughly $52.4 billion over ten years in new transportation revenues and makes adjustments for inflation every year; directs the funding to be used towards deferred maintenance on the state highways and local streets and roads, and to improve the state’s trade corridors, transit, and active transportation facilities. Chaptered
  • SB 3 (Beall): Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 – Support: enacts the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 and authorizes the issuance of $4 billion in general obligation (GO) bonds for affordable housing programs and a veteran’s home ownership program, subject to approval by the voters in the November 6, 2018 election. Chaptered
  • SB 373 (Cannella) Public contracts: design-build: Stanislaus Regional Water Authority – Support: allows the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority to utilize design-build to construct a surface water supply project. Chaptered
  • SB 436 (Allen): Teachers: California STEM Professional Teaching Pathway Act of 2017 – Support: establishes the California STEM Professional Teaching Pathway to recruit, train, support, and retain qualified science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals, including military veterans, as mathematics and science teachers in California. 2-year bill
  • SB 623 (Monning) Water quality: Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Oppose: creates the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, administered by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), and imposes water, fertilizer and dairy fees to fund safe drinking water programs. 2-year bill
  • SB 793 (Hill) Competitive bidding: design-build and best value construction contracting. Support: allows specified special districts to use design-build contracting for construction of buildings or other facilities in those districts, and expands a pilot program that allows seven counties to use best value contracting for specified projects until January 1, 2020. Chaptered


Recent Reports

Environmental Research Letters released Availability of High-Magnitude Streamflow for Groundwater Banking in the Central Valley, California. “California’s climate is characterized by the largest precipitation and streamflow variability observed within the coterminous U.S. This, combined with chronic groundwater overdraft … creates the need to identify additional surface water sources available for groundwater recharge using methods such as agricultural groundwater banking, aquifer storage and recovery, and spreading basins…. [W]e present a comprehensive analysis of the magnitude, frequency, duration and timing of high-magnitude streamflow (HMF) for 93 stream gauges covering the Sacramento, San Joaquin and Tulare basins in California…. The results suggest that there is sufficient unmanaged surface water physically available to mitigate long-term groundwater overdraft in the Central Valley.”

They also published Dry Groundwater Wells in the Western United States. “During California’s severe five-year drought groundwater levels fell to record lows and people in farming communities from Tulare County to Paso Robles saw their wells go dry. Now researchers have analyzed records for about 2 million wells across 17 western states from Texas to Oregon, and they estimate that one out of every 30 wells was dry between 2013 and 2015. The researchers also found dry wells were concentrated in farming areas such as California’s Central Valley and the High Plains. In some areas, they estimated that up to one-fifth of wells were dry…. [T]he study confirmed that domestic wells are shallower and more susceptible to going dry than agricultural wells in parts of the Central Valley, though not all of it. Outside of California … the depths of household wells and agricultural wells were similar in most of the areas they analyzed.” (Desert SunSep. 29, 2017)

UC Davis published Disruptive Transportation: The Adoption, Utilization, and Impacts of Ride-Hailing in the United States. “Ride-hailing services have exploded in popularity around the world in a relatively short period of time, and initial evidence suggests that they capture a relatively significant share of how people travel in major cities. Looking forward towards a future with automated vehicle technology – which is estimated to accelerate adoption of these services, it is critical that transportation planners and policymakers begin to understand how “mobility as a service” models shape travel patterns.” The key takeaways from the study include finding a higher use of the services among the wealthy and a higher use in urban areas. A significant finding was that the majority of trips would have been made via walking, biking, public transit, or simply avoided.

The CA State Auditor’s office has released its report, “Dept. of Water Resources: The Unexpected Complexity of California WaterFix Has Resulted in Significant Cost Increases and Delays,” finds “the planning phase” of WaterFix “experienced significant cost increases and schedule delays because of the scale and unexpected complexity of the project,” noting “as of June 2017, the planning costs had reached $280 million;” also finds DWR did not follow contractor bidding requirements when it replaced the program manager for the conservation and conveyance program,” selecting the Hallmark Group, whose contract “has tripled from $4.1 million to $13.8 million; also finds DWR “has not completed either an economic or financial analysis to demonstrate the financial viability of WaterFix.”



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