The June 25 introduction of H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, is welcome news for the people of the parched State of California and the Central Valley. Authored by Congressman David Valadao (CA-21), the bill is a regional, collaborative, and bi-partisan effort that will ease the water supply issues plaguing communities, schools, farms, farm laborers, and the people of California. California Representatives Ken Calvert, Jim Costa, Jeff Denham, Doug LaMalfa, Kevin McCarthy, Tom McClintock and Devin Nunes also deserve special recognition for their attention to the water needs of the State of California and for their efforts as co-sponsors of this legislation.
“We applaud the efforts of Congressman Valadao, Congressman McCarthy, and many others in their bi-partisan effort to address a California water supply system that is clearly not in balance,” said Dan Vink, of the South Valley Water Association. “HR 2898 is a wonderful first step, and we encourage the Senate to take similar action to continue the debate and take eventual action to provide tangible benefits to all of California. We look forward to helping to resolve remaining issues and getting final action in both Houses of Congress.”
In a demonstration of solidarity, an unprecedented number of water agencies in the Central Valley have come together to express support for swift passage of the bill, which aims, in part, to replace the plan to revive the San Joaquin River–and its salmon run–with a more achievable plan for warm-water fish.
In hastening water storage project studies, the bill proposes a new dam at Temperance Flat, on the Upper San Joaquin River, and seeks the raising of Shasta Dam.
“Time is running out for many of our farms and communities. Our people are desperate,” said Eric Borba, Chair of Friant Water Authority. “We need solutions that will provide real water for our area, and we need them now. It is imperative that the California Congressional Delegation develop drought legislation that can be passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by the President this year. For that reason, the Friant Water Authority Board of Directors applauds the introduction of the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, and fully supports its prompt passage by the House of Representatives. This bill is a critically important first step. As it advances, Friant is eager to work with the House and the Senate to reach drought legislation that will provide real relief for the 2016 water year and beyond.”
The bill further instructs the Interior Department to oversee a transfer of ownership of the New Melones Unit of the Central Valley Project–comprising, in part, the New Melones Dam and reservoir on the Stanislaus River–to local agencies.
“The Exchange Contractors appreciate the efforts of Rep. Valadao and others to introduce the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015,” said Steve Chedester, Director of the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority. “We look forward to continuing to work with the members of the California delegation on a solution to improve our collective water supply. We applaud local efforts being made by the federal agencies, but we need long-term water policy that provides a reliable water supply to California and fully support the prompt passage of the bill. The Exchange Contractors look forward to passage of practical common-sense legislation based on sound science so the water needs of the people of the State of California are met.”
“Through its work with Mr. Valadao and the co-sponsors of this legislation,” said Westlands Water District Chair Don Peracchi, “Westlands knows that they are genuinely interested in working with their colleagues in the Senate to find a legislative solution to the chronic water supply shortages that have devastated the San Joaquin Valley and other regions of the State. The District looks forward to working with both the House and the Senate to advance common sense solutions that serve the interests of all Californians.”