LaMalfa, California Republican delegation introduce sweeping water legislation

Congressman Doug LaMalfa joined Congressman David G. Valadao and the entire California Republican delegation to introduce the Working to Advance Tangible and Effective Reforms (WATER) for California Act. This bill focuses on operational stability, infrastructure, and accountability to bring more water to the state.

“For too long, farmers, ranchers, and municipalities have suffered from the gross mismanagement of California’s water by Washington and Sacramento,” LaMalfa said. “These unforced errors have led to drastic allocation cuts, fallow fields, perished livestock, tainted drinking water, and reduced water levels in reservoirs we rely on for fire suppression. To provide immediate relief as Water Year 2023 begins, this legislation overrides the man-made drought policies of Democrats in Sacramento and Washington by reinstating the 2019 Biological Opinions, while also opening up more funding for water storage. I look forward to continuing to work with my California colleagues to prioritize our limited water supplies for farms and our people.”

“For too long, the Central Valley has suffered from devastating drought conditions, unfair water allocations, and a gross mismanagement of the water we do have by Sacramento bureaucrats and environmentalists,” said Valadao. “This bill will bring more water to the farmers, businesses, and rural communities in the Valley and throughout California, doing everything possible to survive this devastating drought. I promised my constituents that I would fight to secure a reliable and clean supply of water for our communities. This legislation would do just that by streamlining operations, expanding water storage infrastructure, and increasing accountability.”

“As we continue to suffer through another year of drought, solutions must address both moving water to our communities and storing water during wet years for use during dry ones,” said Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. “That is why I am glad to join Congressman Valadao – who has been a leader on water and drought throughout his tenure in Congress – on introducing the WATER for California Act. In a state like California, access to reliable and affordable water is more pressing than ever, and I applaud his efforts to advance commonsense solutions to ensure our constituents get the water they contract and pay for and improve California’s drought resiliency.”

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“The key long-term solutions for California’s water challenges involve restoring regulatory sanity to our water management regime and building the water storage and conveyance infrastructure necessary to supply our state with reliable and affordable water,” said Congressman Ken Calvert. “The WATER for California Act will help make those solutions a reality. My California colleague Rep. David Valadao continues to be a leader on this critical issue for our state.”

“I’m proud to join with fellow members of the California congressional delegation to deliver improved access to water for all Californians,” said Congressman Mike Garcia. “This bill provides funding for water storage projects across the state and limits the damages that Governor Newsom and federal bureaucrats can inflict. Far too many Californians struggle with water shortages, including tens-of-thousands in my district alone. The provisions in this bill will make us more resilient against water shortages and droughts. I am a proud co-sponsor of this bill and will continue to fight against the misguided priorities in Sacramento that values water for fish over people.”

“Californians are all too familiar with the effects of water shortages worsened by bureaucratic mismanagement,” said Congresswoman Michelle Steel. “I am proud to partner with Representative Valadao in this important and ongoing effort to ensure that residents across our state have stable and reliable access to the water they need.”

“Our water supply is essential for the public health and safety of our communities,” said Congressman Young Kim. “Unfortunately, burdensome regulations and water mismanagement are worsening water shortages already hurting our workers, families and food supply chain due to the ongoing drought. I’m proud to join Representative Valadao and my California colleagues to introduce the WATER for California Act to reduce regulatory burdens hindering water access, and I will do all I can to provide certainty and secure water for Californians.”

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“By systematically reining in and reforming a host of damaging government policies, this bill will take a major step toward ending the Central Valley water crisis and finally guaranteeing a stable water supply for our struggling families, farmers, and communities,” said Congresswoman Connie Conway.

“Droughts are nature’s fault; water shortages are our fault,” said Congressman Tom McClintock. “Environmental extremists and overzealous bureaucrats have used the law to block water storage projects for years, resulting in an era of unnecessary self-imposed water shortages that have devastated entire communities. This legislation provides a common-sense approach to restoring abundance and delivery as principal objectives of federal water policy. It’s simple: More water is better than less water.”

“I’m proud to support Congressman Valadao’s WATER for California Act because it represents the kind of bipartisan, consensus-based approach that will make a lasting difference for California’s residents and its farmers,” said Congressman Darrel Issa. “This creative legislation will achieve better resource coordination, enhanced water infrastructure, and improve essential water conveyance through the Delta.”

Background
The comprehensive legislation promotes water conveyance through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, consistent with the Endangered Species Act, and advances key surface water infrastructure projects. Among other provisions, the WATER for California Act: Requires the Central Valley Project and State Water Project be operated consistent with the 2019 regulations, which were independently peer-reviewed and informed by the most accurate, best available science, but allows modification under certain circumstances. Why it matters: The 2019 Biological Opinions and Preferred Alternative inform corresponding long-term operations plans for the CVP and SWP. The Biden administration’s misguided attempt to reverse the 2019 BiOps has caused significant uncertainty for Valley farmers about their water supply.

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Helps to ensure CVP and SWP water stakeholders receive the water they contract and pay for. Why it matters: For the past two years, South-of-Delta agricultural repayment and water service contractors have received zero percent of their allocation from the CVP. This has resulted in extreme water loss for both agricultural producers and rural communities.

Provides eligibility for funding for the Shasta Enlargement Project. Why it matters: The Shasta Enlargement Project is the most per acre/foot cost-effective water storage project in California, but the infrastructure bill explicitly excludes any of the $1.15B allocated for storage projects from going to the Shasta Project.

Reauthorizes the successful surface water storage project program and coordinated operations of the CVP and SWP established by the WIIN Act. Why it matters: Water storage is critical to better preparing communities for drought conditions. The authorities under the WIIN Act that brought more water to the Valley expired in 2021, and this bill extends the storage project authorizations to 2028 and the operations provisions of the WIIN Act to 2033.

The text of the bill can be found here.

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