What is the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP)?
In November 2014, California voters approved Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Water Code, §§ 79700-79798) to provide funding to meet the three broad objectives of the California Water Action Plan:
- More reliable water supplies
- Restoration of important species and habitat
- A more resilient and sustainably managed water infrastructure
Chapter 8 of Proposition 1 appropriated $2.7 billion to the California Water Commission to fund public benefits associated with water storage projects that improve the operation of the state water system, are cost effective, and provide a net improvement in ecosystem and water quality conditions. The California Water Commission (CWC) has named its competitive grant program to implement Chapter 8 the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP).
For more information regarding the WSIP, visit the official website
As specified in Chapter 8 of Proposition 1, the WSIP may fund only the public benefits portion of proposed water storage projects. Public benefits that may be funded are water quality improvements, flood control benefits, emergency response, recreational purposes, and ecosystem improvements. (Water Code, § 79753, subd. (a).)
- Chapter 8 funding will not be allocated to a project unless it is determined that at least 50 percent of the total public benefits funded for the project are ecosystem improvements. (Water Code, § 79756, subd. (b).)
- A project may only receive funding if it provides measurable improvements to the Delta ecosystem or to the tributaries to the Delta. (Water Code, § 79752.)
- Ecosystem improvements include:
- changing the timing of water diversions;
- improvements in flow conditions;
- other measurable improvements that help restore aquatic ecosystems and native fish and wildlife species. (Water Code, § 79753, subd. (a)(1).)
The legislature directed the CWC to adopt by regulation methods for the quantification and management of the public benefits, in consultation with the CDFW, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), and the Department of Water Resources (DWR). (Water Code, § 79754.)
The CWC has developed draft WSIP regulations with a public comment period ending on March 14, 2016. The CWC will develop additional regulations, application instructions, and a technical reference document for use in the WSIP. Descriptions of these documents are available on the CWC’s WSIP website.
CDFW’s Role in the WSIP
Water Code section 79754 directs CDFW to provide priorities and relative environmental values of ecosystem benefits to the CWC for use in the WSIP, and directs the CWC to consult with CDFW in development of the program’s regulations. Specifically, CDFW will:
- Provide priorities and relative environmental values of ecosystem benefits to the CWC;
- Assist with the formulation of WSIP regulations;
- Provide technical expertise and policy review of program guidelines for the WSIP;
- Participate in interagency, stakeholder, and CWC public meetings;
- Assist in the review and evaluation of project applications and related documents submitted to the CWC.