San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Financing Strategies

With the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), stakeholders from the agricultural, environmental, and disadvantaged communities, along with urban interest groups have collectively recognized that long-term sustainable groundwater management will depend upon creating more opportunities for robust conjunctive-use, or coordinated, management of surface water and groundwater resources.  To implement a more robust conjunctive-use management strategy, it will be necessary to upgrade, enhance, and modernize the State’s 70-year old water system to accommodate today’s social, environmental, and economic conditions, as well as future hydrologic conditions under climate change.  The preliminary cost estimates to enhance the operational flexibility, reliability, and redundancy of the water system facilities serving agricultural, disadvantaged community, environmental, and urban interests in the San Joaquin Valley exceed $5 billion dollars.

It is anticipated that the needed water infrastructure funding will be secured from a number of sources, and the purpose of this research project is identify alternative strategies to generate a local funding source that can be used to match or supplement water infrastructure investments from federal, state, private, and philanthropic agencies and organizations.  Fresno State has been commissioned to conduct an evaluation of alternative financing strategies to create a regionally-coordinated, local funding resources to finance the upgrade, enhancement, and modernization of the water infrastructure systems serving agriculture, disadvantaged community, environmental, and urban interests in the San Joaquin Valley.  This research project will be completed in six phases:

(1)        Literature Search of Possible Funding Options

(2)        Stakeholder Engagement

(3)        Capital Improvement Plan Development

(4)        Evaluation of Alternative Governance Structures

(5)        Evaluation of Alternative Revenue Generation Models

(6)        Preparation Final Report (Findings and Recommendations)

The Principal Investigators for this research project are Dr. Jeffrey Cummins, Dr. Thomas Holyoke, and Dr. Lisa Bryant in the College of Social Sciences at Fresno State.  The research professors are currently working with student research assistants from the Political Science Department to conduct a literature search of alternative funding strategies to create a regionally-coordinated local-funding source for water infrastructure.  The professors will be reaching out to stakeholders in the near future to review and discuss alternative funding strategies.  If you would like to receive informational updates on the status and progress of this research project, or would like to pose questions to the research professors about the research project, please provide your contact information at http://www.californiawater.org/research-project-announcement/