Costa Applauds Introduction of Bill Language to Fix California’s Broken Water System

WASHINGTON, DC – (RealEstateRama) — Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the Water Infrastructure Improvements Act for the Nation (WIIN) Actwas introduced with language to assist in reducing the impacts of California’s drought crisis and to build additional long-term drought resiliency:

“Today, effective and bipartisan language to fix California’s broken water system was introduced as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements Act for the Nation (WIIN) Act. I applaud my House and Senate colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, who I have been working with for years negotiating these provisions, which are fair and balanced.

“If this language is enacted into law, California is authorized to receive additional federal resources to improve water infrastructure, including investments in additional storage, increased water recycling, and water desalination. Additionally, there are short-term provisions to improve water system operations, so more water can be made available to Valley communities, farmers, and farm workers.

“California is dealing with a devastating drought and may soon face six years in a row of record breaking dry conditions. The people of California, farmers, and our environment will all benefit if this legislation is enacted.  As I have said time and again, continuing to operate under the same flawed policies and failing to provide funding for desperately needed water infrastructure is never to going to solve our water problems. Finally, something has the possibility of getting done, and all regions of state, especially those that have been most affected by the drought, will see positive impacts if this package is signed into law.

“While I appreciate the hard work that went into introducing this legislation, we are long overdue in getting here. Fixing California’s broken water system has been a political issue that has gone on for far too long. Families in California’s San Joaquin Valley are suffering without water and hundreds of thousands of acres of productive agriculture land have gone fallow. I sincerely hope that my colleagues will move past the hyperbole and look at the facts – this legislation is balanced and will provide benefits for cities, the agriculture industry, and the environment. 

“I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to support this legislation and act swiftly, so it can be sent to the President’s desk for signature. Time is of the essence. The drought stricken communities in California, especially those in the San Joaquin Valley, deserve for this legislation to be passed immediately.” 

The California drought language includes short- and long-term provisions:

Short-term provisions:

  • Delta Cross Channel Gates – Federal agencies must open the Delta Cross Channel Gates for as long as possible consistent with the State Water Board’s orders.  This may allow the agencies to open the Gates during the daytime when salmon are often not migrating in significant numbers, which could allow additional water to be pumped without harming fish or water quality.
  • Turbidity measures – By taking measures to manage turbidity and protect Delta smelt during the first storm-induced flush of sediment out of the Delta each winter, the agencies can both protect the fish and allow for more steady pumping the remainder of the year.
  • 1:1 inflow-to-export ratio, solely for water transfers – Solely for voluntary transfers, sales and exchanges, allows agencies to use a 1:1 “inflow-to-export ratio” for San Joaquin River flows in April and May for the duration of the drought. By stretching water supplies through water transfers, agricultural districts that are short on water can use transfers to make up for reduced deliveries, while that same “block” of water moving through the Delta can help fish and potentially assist in the restoration of the Delta. The agencies can only use the 1:1 ratio for transfers if environmental protections, including the following, are satisfied:
    • There are no adverse effects on endangered species beyond those anticipated by the biological opinions.
    • The transfer water getting the benefit of the 1:1 ratio must be additional flow on top of the regular flow of the river.
    • The environmental effects of the proposed transfer, sale, or exchange are consistent with environmental effects permissible under applicable law.
  • Expediting reviews of transfers and temporary barriers – Expedites review of transfers and temporary barriers in the Delta, which could help move limited water to where it is needed, manage salinity and improve water quality.
  • Extended window for water transfers – Extends the window for transfers by five months, from  April 1 to November 30 (currently July 1 to September 30), if the extended transfers can be done consistent with the biological opinions.
  • Scientifically Supported Implementation of OMR (Old and Middle River) Flow Requirements – Science based on real-time monitoring governs the level of pumping within the ranges allowed by the biological opinions. The bill requires the agencies to explain why pumping at the high end of the smelt biological opinion would cause adverse effects to fish that violate the environmental protection mandate (described below), if they decide to pump at a lower levels.
  • Temporary Operational Flexibility for Storm Events – authorizes the agencies to increase pumping during winter storms, so that excess flows from storms may be captured.
  • Consultation on Coordinated Operations – Provides for increased transparency during consultation on the biological opinions by soliciting input from water districts and those environmental groups that already participate in implementation of the biological opinions.
  • Environmental Protection Mandate – The bill prohibits agencies from taking any action that would cause adverse effects to fish beyond those effects allowable under the biological opinion.

Long-term provisions:

  • $558 million for storage, water recycling and desalination projects.
    • $335 million for water storage projects. – Funding can go to either state-led groundwater or surface storage projects, or to federally owned surface storage projects.
    • $30 million for desalination projects over 5 years.
    • $50 million for competitive grant funding for water recycling, wastewater reuse and reclamation of naturally impaired ground and surface water.
    • Increases WaterSMART funding authorization by $100 million.

Source: Rep. Jim Costa

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