State Legislation: AB 851 - Local Design-Build Project Delivery for Water Supply, Flood Protection, & Habitat Restoration

Updated July 27, 2017

This bill expands the type of projects completed through a ‘design-build’ delivery method for water supply, flood protection, and habitat restoration projects. Design-build allows a single entity to both design and build a project. This is in contrast to the Design-bid-build method whereby one entity designs the structure and contracts with another company to build it. The design-build method is lauded by local agencies, labor, and contractors for simplifying contractor compliances and protecting workers with skilled and trained workforce requirements.

What it does:

AB 851 will authorize a city, county, city and county, or a special district to procure design-build contracts for the following types of regional and local public works projects in excess of one million dollars:

  1. Flood protection improvements;
  2. Habitat restoration or enhancement;
  3. Groundwater recharge or storage facilities;
  4. Water treatment facilities; or
  5. The retrofit, repair, or expansion of existing surface water storage facilities.

Why it is needed:

The bills authors argue the drought and an increasingly volatile local climate are taking a toll on our infrastructure. Key improvements need to be made quickly by local agencies to become more drought and flood resistant. The design-build project delivery method can deliver faster project timelines at a lower cost to local agencies while eliminating costly mistakes sometimes made by having multiple contractors. In short, expanding the list of projects capable of being built through ‘design-build’ for local agencies will be simpler, cheaper, faster, and make California more prepared to address critical water, habitat, and flood improvement projects.


STATUS: Passed Assembly. In Senate Appropriations.

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Questions? Please contact Victor Cuauhtémoc Gomez, Sr. Director of Public Policy at

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