As the drought deepens and an election nears, Gov. Gavin Newsom is taking extra steps to increase pressure—and responsibility—on the Water Commission for the Sites Reservoir Project proposal.

During a Senate budget subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said the governor has tasked him with ensuring the commission “isn't slowing down the progress of getting those [Proposition 1] projects online.” Newsom also charged Crowfoot with finding ways to remove regulatory barriers and accelerate the approval process for those projects.

“Sites Reservoir can and should be an important part of our solution moving forward,” said Crowfoot. “We all recognize we need to diversify our water supplies.”

The May revision of the governor’s budget proposal would add $500 million for the seven Prop. 1 projects beginning in 2024, allowing time for the projects to complete environmental reviews and gain permits. 

Investing in infrastructure allows the state to satisfy a once-obscure tax law that triggers the government to either return money to taxpayers or invest it in schools and infrastructure when it reaches a certain threshold in tax revenues. But the Legislative Analyst’s Office has been warning lawmakers to be more fiscally prudent with the record $97 billion surplus than the governor is proposing. With a recession coming as early as next year, LAO is calling for lawmakers to stash more money into reserves.