California Water Policy: What Happened in 2023 and Where Are We Going?
California Water Policy: What Happened in 2023 and Where Are We Going?

The year started with a bang, with a lot of new Members of the Legislature, and more seasoned Members, invigorated and motivated to tackle some major water policy and funding issues for California. While some significant water policy changes were passed by the Legislature this year (with much controversy), there is still much left to debate and discuss in the second year of the two-year session, which will begin on January 3, 2024.

One of those major negotiations will include debate over a water bond to be placed on the November 2024 ballot for the voters of California. There were many bond proposals deliberated in the Legislature this year, including ones focused on funding water and climate change related infrastructure; those being SB 867 (Allen), AB 1567 (Garcia) and SB 638 (Eggman). The water bond discussion was held over this year, as there was general agreement to make these bills two-year bills and continue the discussion when the Legislature returns in 2024. The Governor has indicated support for a future water bond, and his May Revision of the 2023-24 State Budget even included proposals to shift some General Fund investments for water and climate change mitigation infrastructure to a future water bond. In order for a water bond to qualify for the November ballot, the Legislature would need to swiftly pass an agreed upon bond bill, and it would need to be signed by the Governor no later than June 27, 2024. The water bond’s fate then lies in the hands of California’s voters.

The water bond discussion will not be the only water related topic at hand for the Legislature and Governor to tackle. Water affordability, sustainability, and climate change impacts, like drought and extreme flooding, are on-going issues that the Legislature and Governor have continually worked to address. With the water bond discussions at the forefront in 2024, it is likely that these other critical water policy issues will be attempted to be addressed. With changes in Legislative Leadership, and many new Members of the Legislature, the discussion over the path to solutions, will no doubt be an interesting one.

  • Ashley S. Walker
    Senior Policy Advisor

    Ashley Walker is a Senior Policy Advisor providing federal and state legislative solutions and grant funding advocacy for a variety of clients with interests in sustainable communities, housing, water, and education issues. She ...

California Water Views provides timely and insightful updates on the water sector in the state. We relay information on how water legislation and policy from the nation’s capital, Sacramento, and around the U.S. affect California’s water utilities, agencies, practitioners, and consumers.  We also write about important events, conferences, legal cases, and other key happenings involving all things water in and around California.

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