Environmental groups have had to wait on money from state

Southland water conservation groups say the budget battle in Sacramento is holding up environmental projects. KPCC's Molly Peterson has the story.

Molly Peterson: Voters back bonds. Bonds provide money for water projects. The state grants some of that money to environmental nonprofits.

As California's finances wavered, the state turned off that tap of money last year. Now the L.A. and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council has surveyed nonprofits. The council's Nancy Steele says the results are grim.

Nancy Steele: There's millions of dollars worth of invoices outstanding to nonprofits that are not being paid and that also is throwing nonprofits into a severe crisis as far as being able to meet their payroll, so the immediate effect is that nonprofits have had to lay off staff.

Peterson: Water quality monitoring isn't happening. Plans to remove invasive plants from wetlands are on hold. Some Malibu Lagoon restoration is stalled.

Steele says nonprofits are also suspending work with private contractors. A budget deal could restart the flow of money. But Steele says starting and stopping projects makes them more expensive to finish.

Steele: So essentially the state is wasting money here. They're not going to get as much work done as these projects as they paid for because it's costing more to do that work.

Peterson: Steele says that'll be the case no matter how and when lawmakers and the governor solve the budget battle.