- California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a $5.1 billion package of immediate drought response to improve drinking water, wastewater, groundwater and water recycling infrastructure as part of a week-long effort to highlight the state’s most persistent challenges.
- The investment, which includes $1.3 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and $200 million for water conveyance improvements to major water delivery systems, is designed to address the state’s emergency needs and build capacity to endure droughts while safeguarding water supplies.
- "This package of bold investments will equip the state with the tools we need to tackle the drought emergency head-on while addressing longstanding water challenges and helping to secure vital and limited water supplies to sustain our state into the future," Newsom said in a statement.
The drought response proposal is part of Newsom’s California Comeback Plan, a $100 billion investment to help the state recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The plan includes expanded tax rebates for two-thirds of Californians and aid for qualified, low-income residents in paying back rent and overdue utility bills.
The proposed drought investment would spread the $5.1 billion out over four years, and aligns with Newsom’s July 2020 Water Resilience Portfolio, which the announcement describes as "a roadmap to water security for all Californians in the face of climate change." The investment is shaped by lessons the state learned during the 2012 to 2016 drought, according to the official announcement.
Wildfires in California have raged during droughts, and prompted Newsom to pass laws about what materials contractors can use to construct houses to make them more fire resistant. Improving the water infrastructure could aid the state in fighting the fires, which displace residents and damage the air quality.
Peter Tateishi, CEO of Associated General Contractors of California, commended Newsom for the drought proposal, in a statement emailed to Construction Dive.
"We applaud Gov. Newsom for his willingness to invest more resources into water infrastructure so the state can have a more resilient future as we feel the impact of climate change," Tateishi said.
The proposal, however, has few details on how money will be specifically allocated for projects, Tateishi said, adding that he hoped programmatic and policy details will continue to be shared as the plan rolls out.
"More than likely, details will be negotiated through the budget process in the upcoming months," Tateishi said.