BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                             Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair
                            2015 - 2016  Regular  Session

          AB 300 (Alejo) - Safe Water and Wildlife Protection Act of 2016
          
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |                                                                 |
          |                                                                 |
          |                                                                 |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |--------------------------------+--------------------------------|
          |                                |                                |
          |Version: August 17, 2015        |Policy Vote: N.R. & W. 9 - 0,   |
          |                                |          E.Q. 7 - 0            |
          |                                |                                |
          |--------------------------------+--------------------------------|
          |                                |                                |
          |Urgency: No                     |Mandate: No                     |
          |                                |                                |
          |--------------------------------+--------------------------------|
          |                                |                                |
          |Hearing Date: August 17, 2015   |Consultant: Marie Liu           |
          |                                |                                |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 


          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. 


          Bill  
          Summary:  AB 300 would require the State Water Resources Control  
          Board (SWRCB) to establish and coordinate the Algal Bloom Task  
          Force (task force) to assess and prioritize the actions and  
          research necessary to prevent or mitigate toxic algal blooms, to  
          solicit and review project proposals, provide funding  
          recommendation, and to review the risks and impacts of algal  
          blooms. The task force and its responsibilities would sunset on  
          January 1, 2019. 


          Fiscal  
          Impact:  
           One-time costs of approximately $150,000 for two years to the  
            Waste Discharge Fund (special) for the SWRCB to lead the task  
            force and generate the required reports.
           Cost pressures of up to $143,000 to the General Fund for two  
            years for the Department of Fish and Wildlife for  
            participation in the task force.







          AB 300 (Alejo)                                         Page 1 of  
          ?
          
          
           Minor and absorbable costs to various special funds for  
            participation in the task force by DPH, CDFA, Coastal  
            Conservancy, and CalEPA. 
           Unknown cost pressures to various special funds to conduct  
            priority activities identified by the task force. These cost  
            pressures are likely to be approximately $400,000 to the Waste  
            Discharge Fund (special) for SWRCB activities.
           Unknown cost pressures, at least in the millions of dollars  
            (General Fund and various special funds) research, project and  
            programs recommended by the task force.


          Background:  Algae play an important role in balanced ecosystems as a food  
          base for many organisms. However, when there is an overabundance  
          of nutrients and ideal growth conditions, algae populations can  
          grow rapidly and form blooms. Certain species of algae produce  
          toxins that can harm water quality and animal and human health.  
          These blooms can occur in both marine and freshwater. 


          Proposed Law:  
            This bill would require the SWRCB to establish and coordinate  
          the Algal Bloom Task force that would be comprised of a  
          representative of the Department of Public Health (DPH), the  
          Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) the Department of Food and  
          Agriculture (CDFA), the State Coastal Conservancy (SCC), and  
          other relevant agency representatives as determined by the SWRCB  
          in consultation with the secretary of the Environmental  
          Protection Agency (CalEPA). The task force would be required to  
          notify the public about its activities and provide opportunities  
          for public review and comment.
          The task force would be responsible for the following duties: 
           Assess and prioritize the actions and research necessary to  
            develop measures that prevent or mitigated toxic algal blooms  
            in the waters of the state.
           Solicit and review proposals from universities, local  
            governments, California Native American tribes, and nonprofit  
            organizations for applied research, projects, and programs  
            that contribute to the development of actions to prevent or  
            mitigate toxic blooms or monitor cyanotoxic levels in the  
            waters of the state.
           Provide funding recommendations to the SWRCB, DFW, the  
            Wildlife Conservation Board, the Coastal Conservancy, and  
            other task force members for applied research, projects, and  








          AB 300 (Alejo)                                         Page 2 of  
          ?
          
          
            programs that will contribute to the development of prevention  
            strategies and sustainable mitigation actions for harmful  
            algal blooms.
           Review the risks and negative impacts of toxic algal blooms on  
            humans, wildlife, fisheries, livestock, pets, and aquatic  
            ecosystems.  
           Organize meetings and workshops of experts and stakeholders as  
            needed.
           Submit its findings and recommendations to the Legislature,  
            the secretary of CalEPA, and the secretary of the Natural  
            Resources Agency on or before January 1, 2018.

          The task force would sunset on January 1, 2019.


          This bill would allow the Coastal Conservancy, DFW, Wildlife  
          Conservation Board, and the SWRCB to enter into contracts and  
          provide grants, upon appropriation from $1.495 billion made  
          available by Proposition 1 for competitive grants for  
          multibenefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration  
          projects or any other appropriate funds accessible by that  
          agency.




          Staff  
          Comments:  To establish and implement the task force required by  
          this bill the SWRCB would likely need one position at an annual  
          cost of approximately $150,000 until January 1, 2019, when this  
          measure sunsets. 
          The workload and costs for the coordinating agencies will depend  
          on the frequency of task force meetings and the responsibilities  
          assigned to participants. However, DPH, SCC, and CDFA have  
          estimated that their costs would likely be minor and absorbable.  
          DFW believes that it would need one Senior Environmental  
          Scientist at an annual cost of $143,000 to participate in the  
          task force. DFW notes that algal blooms occur in a wide range of  
          locations and at different scales that affect DFW's commercial,  
          recreational, and environmental constituencies differently. DFW  
          currently participates in algae-related groups, but it  
          recognizes that it may need to do more, especially should this  
          bill be enacted. As such, staff believes these costs are cost  
          pressures.








          AB 300 (Alejo)                                         Page 3 of  
          ?
          
          


          The bill would require that the task force prioritize actions  
          necessary to prevent or mitigate the impacts of toxic algal  
          blooms. The SWRCB and DFW in particular are likely to have a  
          role in recommended actions. As such, this bill will likely  
          create cost pressures on those two agencies for implementing  
          recommended actions.


          This bill also creates millions of dollars in cost pressures by  
          directing the task force to solicit and review proposals to  
          prevent or mitigate toxic algal blooms. Staff notes that  
          projects to prevent toxic algal blooms can be wide-reaching as  
          it might include any project that reduces runoff of nutrients  
          into the waters of the state. As such, the task force could  
          easily identify projects at least in the millions of dollars  
          that would help prevent algal blooms.


          While the bill says that grants and contracts can be funded from  
          $1.495 billion made available for ecosystem and watershed  
          protection and restoration in Proposition 1, this bill does not  
          make an appropriation. Staff notes that there may be other  
          potential funding sources, including the Sea Otter Fund, though  
          the use of Proposition 1 monies is likely appropriate and  
          in-line with the required purposes as a wide variety of projects  
          that reduce nutrient pollution by improving watersheds are  
          likely to assist in the prevention of harmful algal blooms.


          Staff notes that the bill contains findings and declarations as  
          well as operative text regarding toxic blooms of cyanobacteria,  
          also known as blue-green algae. However, toxic blooms are not  
          limited to blue-green algae. The deleterious impacts of algal  
          blooms are not limited to the production of toxins, though  
          toxins may be the largest impact in terms of public health.  
          Other existing efforts on algal blooms refer to "harmful algal  
          blooms," including federal legislation, which is a more  
          inclusive term of the impacts algal blooms may have.  Staff  
          recommends  that bill be amended to remove the focus on  
          cyanobacteria and instead focus on harmful algal blooms.










          AB 300 (Alejo)                                         Page 4 of  
          ?
          
          


                                      -- END --