In his May revision of the budget, the governor proposes $100 million in grants for water use efficiency projects. The Senate drought plan bumps that to $250 million.

The administration would put that money toward CDFA’s grant program, known as SWEEP. The Senate would put $40 million to SWEEP and the rest to the Department of Water Resources for ag projects similarly related to upgrading irrigation equipment and lining treatment ponds.

A CDFA environmental scientist testified at the same subcommittee hearing Tuesday that these projects may take 16 months to come online but deliver considerable water savings over a decade or more.

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“There's plenty of leaky or inefficient farms that could use this money to save some water, stretch out the water that they have, save some of their crops, if we have an acute drought situation,” said Subcommittee Chair Bob Wieckowski of Fremont. “It just seems like a wise investment, given where we are today.”

The administration’s finance advisor clarified that a much broader array of drought provisions is also in the governor’s budget. This includes $5 million for technical assistance to help farmers install and maintain these projects.