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Fixing Dams

An additional $387 million will be appropriated from funds generated by Proposition 1

Feb 25, 2017

Fixing Dams with Bond Money

"Pending approval from the Legislature, an additional $387 million will be appropriated from funds generated by Proposition 1 — a water bond passed in 2014." - San Francisco Chronicle

We revealed environmental thinking in our 'Crisis Theory' newsletter on February 18 where Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the L.A. Times advocated that "now it’s time to reject the new-build proponents and focus on ways to use that bond money to make sure existing dams are safe."  In other words, don't build anything new until we fix all the old stuff.

It hasn't taken long for the environmental suggestion to come to be.  Yesterday California Governor Jerry Brown proposed using $387 million of the 2014 Water Bond to fix existing dam infrastructure.  Californians may be surprised to know that money hasn't previously been spent on fixing things since they pass water bonds regularly,passing 8 since the year 2000.  

These bonds have allocated well over 20 billion that could have been spent on fixing aging infrastructure or building new dams like Temperance Flat or Sites, but instead mostly they've been squandered.

So now almost $400 million of the $2.7 billion for 'storage' in the Water Bond will not go to new storage.  That leaves $2.4 billion that is still being studied.  How's that going?

The Water Bond passed in November, 2014, 26 months ago, and we're in what the bureaucrats call the 'Application Preparation Period that runs from now until the end of July.  Then there will be the 'Application Review Period' running through the end of December.  They are working to define "how the review will occur and how all pieces of the review will be incorporated and coordinated."  

For the first half of next year there is the 'Commission Decision Process' where "staff will put out the public benefit ratios", then "a full technical review with the preliminary scores; then the Commission will determine the final scores."

The Commission will then determine the maximum conditional eligibility amounts that will be assigned to the projects (for non-bureaucrats, that means how much money they'll get).

But wait, it's still not over.  The second half of 2018 have 
the applicants "go and get the requirements that they need according to statute, such as their final permits, their final CEQA documents, the contracts they’ll need for non-public stakeholders, the non-public cost share portion and the agency contracts.  They obtain those documents, and return for the final decision.  This part of the timeline is variable as it’s based on how fast the applicants can gather that information and return."

All this could and probably will take until the end of 2018 and who knows what excuses they will find not to build new dams by then.

Delay is a win for the environmental side.  As long as nothing new is being built they chalk up another victory.

Brown to redirect millions for flood-control measures at dams


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