A comprehensive overhaul of water policy affecting the San Joaquin Valley is back on the table, courtesy of Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford).
Valadao initially introduced the Working to Advance Tangible and Effective Reforms (WATER) for California Act last September and is bringing it back, this time with a Republican-controlled House. The entire California Republican delegation joined Valadao as co-sponsors on the bill.
The big picture: The WATER for California Act will streamline operations, expand water storage infrastructure and increase accountability of water use in the Golden State.
- It focuses on preparing California for future storms and maintaining water levels during dry years by promoting water conveyance through the Delta.
What’s in it: If it passes, the act will require the Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP) to be operated consistent with the 2019 Trump-era biological opinions, which have been under fire by the Biden administration.
- It helps to ensure CVP and SWP water stakeholders receive the water they contract and pay for, a significant measure considering South-of-Delta agricultural repayment and water service contractors have received zero percent of their CVP allocation in the last two years.
- It provides eligibility for funding for the Shasta Enlargement Project, which is currently barred from receiving any of the $1.15 billion allocated for water storage projects in President Biden’s infrastructure bill.
- It reauthorizes the water storage project program and coordinated operations of the CVP and SWP established by the WIIN Act, which expired in 2021.
What they’re saying: “The Central Valley has suffered from drought conditions, unfair water allocations, and a gross mismanagement of the water we do have by Sacramento bureaucrats and radical environmentalists for years,” Valadao said. “The WATER for California Act will bring more water to the farmers, businesses, and rural communities in the Valley and throughout California doing everything possible to survive these man-made water shortages.”
- “For over a decade, Congressman Valadao has been a champion in advancing drought and water policies, fighting to ensure that families and agricultural producers in the Central Valley have affordable and reliable access to water,” said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield.) “I applaud his tireless efforts, and am proud to join him as a co-sponsor of the WATER for California Act. Now that Republicans are in the majority, we will deliver common sense solutions out of the House to the residents of Kern, Fresno, Kings, and Tulare Counties and the American people.”