Agricultural groups have been working for years to get federal support for important water investments in California. Several California lawmakers have also made the point for federal funding to support water infrastructure in national infrastructure packages but have not been successful as of yet.
“We’ve done a lot of work over the last few years to make sure that water infrastructure is part of any discussion that occurs across infrastructure generally,” said Dave Puglia, President and CEO of Western Growers. “With the crisis hitting with COVID there has been renewed interest by the Trump Administration and on Capitol Hill in reenergizing a focus on an infrastructure package that would provide funding to critical projects.”
A few California legislators have raised issues pertaining to California water supplies, with various pieces of legislation aimed at providing assistance for storage projects and other water infrastructure. It has been an uphill challenge in obtaining federal consideration for water investments in the western states, with various efforts failing over the years.
“The problem we have in the western U.S. is that most legislators – Senators and House members who aren’t from the west – when they hear the term ‘infrastructure’ they think of roads and bridges and tunnels and railways,” Puglia explained. “They don’t think of water infrastructure because they don’t have the challenges we have in the west to manage our water very, very efficiently.”
Federal support for better managing California water supplies is becoming even more important as the sustainable Groundwater Management Act begins to be implemented. Further complications have arisen in recent weeks as federal and state authorities face off in a serious of lawsuits over the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. “I do believe that creative minds with good intentions can find a way to extricate themselves from litigation conflict…hopefully, there is a will and way to creatively find a settlement landing zone that all parties can accept that doesn’t do additional harm to water users,” Puglia noted.
Listen to the interview below.