Proposal To Strengthen Western Water Bill for San Joaquin Valley

Taylor Hillman Drought, Water

Shasta Lake
Today, Representative Costa offered three amendments before the Rules Committee, in a continued effort to improve H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, of which he is an original co-sponsor.

The amendments offered would increase storage at Lake McClure by providing a process to raise the spillway gates of New Exchequer Dam, would utilize existing National Guard resources to assist communities impacted by the drought and would increase accountability for environmental water flows.

“The Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015 is a positive step toward fixing our broken water system; however, I believe more can be done  to provide viable and efficient solutions to mitigate the damage being done to the people of California, and in particular the people of the San Joaquin Valley, as a result of the ongoing drought. Today, I offered three amendments that would bring more resources and flexibility to bear to address drought conditions affecting Valley communities.  The amendments would increase water storage capacity at Lake McClure in Merced County, would prioritize areas of extreme drought to train units of the National Guard with well drilling capability and would increase accountability for environmental water releases.

“As we know, environmental flows being prioritized over human needs is disproportionately impacting Californians, including those from rural and disadvantaged communities.  I am glad that the House will hear my amendment to create accountability and transparency in the environmental management efforts underway so that we can understand what is not working, and why. Without collecting, collating, and reporting data on an annual basis about what flows are released and what they achieve, we will never improve the efficacy of our water projects and will prolong the harmful drought impacts on our local communities.”

 While all three amendments were presented before the Rules Committee, only one was made in order.  The Western Water and American Food Security Act will be heard on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives later this week.