Governor Gavin Newsom has released his 2022-23 state budget proposal, the California Blueprint. The $213 billion budget includes significant investment for addressing coronavirus, wildfires, homelessness, and drought. California is currently experiencing a $45.7 billion surplus heading into the next fiscal year. Building on the $5.2 billion dollar investment in water issues last year, the budget proposal includes an additional $750 million investment to address the ongoing drought.
Of the one-time General Fund support for drought resilience and response, $30 million in funding support would be used for groundwater recharge efforts. Grants would be available to water districts to plan, engineer, and construct recharge projects. The State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program will also be supported with an additional $20 million under the budget proposal. Technical assistance and drought relief for small farmers would also be provided through a $10 million investment. Funding would be provided to support mobile irrigation labs, irrigation education, and direct assistance to producers that have experienced increases in water costs of more than 50 percent.
Under the California Blueprint, $180 million will be directed towards water conservation programs. Grants would be made available to water suppliers for improving water efficiency, addressing leaks, and providing efficiency-related mapping and training. An investment of $145 million will also be made in local emergency drought assistance and grant support for local water agencies.
Multigenetic land repurposing efforts would be enhanced with a $40 million investment through the budget plan. The funding would be used to increase the ability to repurpose irrigated ag land to reduce reliance on groundwater. To mitigate the impact of drought on fish and wildlife populations, $75 million would be allocated to help build resilience of natural systems. A total of $250 million would also be set aside as a drought contingency. The funding would be part of the spring budget process when more water data becomes available which will dictate further drought assistance needs.