Bill Text: CA SB487 | 2019-2020 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Department of Water Resources: aerial snow survey.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-03-13 - Set for hearing March 26. [SB487 Detail]

Download: California-2019-SB487-Introduced.html


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 487


Introduced by Senator Caballero

February 21, 2019


An act to add and repeal Section 228.5 of the Water Code, relating to water resources, and making an appropriation therefor.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 487, as introduced, Caballero. Department of Water Resources: aerial snow survey.
Existing law requires the Department of Water Resources to gather and correlate information and data pertinent to an annual forecast of seasonal water crop, including the making of snow surveys, either independently or in cooperation with any person or any county, state, federal, or other agency. Existing law also requires the Department of Water Resources to update every 5 years the plan for the orderly and coordinated control, protection, conservation, development, and use of the water resources of the state, which is known as The California Water Plan.
This bill would require the department’s California snow survey program to conduct aerial surveys of the snowpack in the Trinity Alps and Sierra Nevada Mountains, including hydrologic areas that drain or supply water to certain major reservoirs and lakes. The bill would require the department to collect the aerial survey data up to 10 times per year in each hydrologic area and to summarize and make publicly available the data obtained and digital products used to produce runoff forecasts, as specified. The bill would continuously appropriate $150 million from the General Fund to the department for these purposes with $15 million being allocated for expenditure each fiscal year.
This bill would make these provisions inoperative on July 1, 2029, and would repeal them as of January 1, 2030.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: YES   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(a) The State of California has been a global leader in snowpack measurement and monitoring and runoff forecasting since it launched the snow survey program in 1929, providing water managers critical information needed to make daily decisions about how to operate our water infrastructure to serve water supply and public safety needs.
(b) During the past century, demands on California’s water system and water supply have increased due to factors such as the growth of population centers and industries, changing societal values and priorities for protecting fish and wildlife, and greater variability in the climate.
(c) Conventional snow surveys provide useful data to natural resource managers but have limitations, such as inaccessibility of wilderness areas, and result in estimates of snowpack with a margin of error of up to 60 percent.
(d) Greater accuracy is needed in order to maximize the efficient operation of reservoirs to meet competing demands for water in a changing climate, as more accurate runoff predictions would prevent unnecessary releases of water to create flood space, effectively creating new storage in upstream reservoirs.
(e) Better information about tree health, moisture content, and other conditions of California’s forests and watersheds will be critical for targeting key areas where additional forest management and fuel reduction activities can help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, especially under future climate change.
(f) Since 2013, local and regional agencies relying on the Sierra Nevada watershed have collaborated to fund operations of the Airborne Snow Observatory, a snow survey and forecasting technology developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.
(g) The Airborne Snow Observatory is capable of measuring snow depths at several points in every square meter of a watershed, as opposed to conventional surveys that rely on a few hundred monitoring locations to cover more than 40,000 miles.
(h) When combined with conventional measurements from California’s snow survey program, data generated though the Airborne Snow Observatory has resulted in runoff forecasts that are 96 percent to 98 percent accurate, and this data is already in use by the Department of Water Resources’ flood control forecasters and federal water supply and habitat restoration programs.
(i) Data gathered through the Airborne Snow Observatory surveys has broad application and use beyond water supply, flood management, and forest management, including for assessing seismic risk, fire management, transportation planning, and recreation.
(j) For fiscal year 2019, operations of the Airborne Snow Observatory program have been funded by local water users and the Department of Water Resources through a Proposition 1 flood grant.

SEC. 2.

 Section 228.5 is added to the Water Code, to read:

228.5.
 (a) The department’s California snow survey program shall conduct aerial surveys of the snowpack in the Trinity Alps and Sierra Nevada Mountains, including hydrologic areas that drain or supply water to the following major reservoirs and lakes:
(1) Don Pedro Reservoir.
(2) Englebright Lake.
(3) Folsom Lake.
(4) Lake Isabella.
(5) Lake Kaweah.
(6) Lake McClure.
(7) Lake Oroville.
(8) Lake Success.
(9) Lake Tahoe.
(10) Millerton Lake.
(11) New Melones Lake.
(12) Owens Lake.
(13) Pardee Reservoir.
(14) Pine Flat Reservoir.
(15) Shasta Lake.
(16) Trinity Lake.
(b) The department shall collect the aerial survey data described in subdivision (a) up to 10 times per year in each hydrologic area, depending on the extent of the snow cover, with the objective of informing Bulletin 120 runoff forecasts for the State of California and providing data for other public benefits and uses.
(c) The department may contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or a private entity, if necessary, to complete the surveys of the snowpack pursuant to this section.
(d) The department shall summarize the data obtained through the snow surveys conducted pursuant to this section and post a summary on the department’s Internet Web site. The department shall make the summaries available publicly within 30 days of collection for use by public agencies and any other interested parties. The department, in a manner determined by the department, shall make publicly available any digital products, such as computer models, used to produce runoff forecasts.
(e) Notwithstanding Section 13340 of the Government Code, the sum of one hundred fifty million dollars ($150,000,000) is hereby continuously appropriated, without regard to fiscal years, from the General Fund to the department for the purposes of this section provided, however, that fifteen million dollars ($15,000,000) of this appropriation shall be allocated for expenditure each fiscal year.
(f) This section shall become inoperative on July 1, 2029, and, as of January 1, 2030, is repealed.

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