Costa Announces That California Water Legislation Has Been Enacted into Law


FRESNO, CA – (RealEstateRama) — Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act was signed by the President and enacted into law.  The WIIN Act includes language to assist in reducing the impacts of California’s drought crisis and to build additional long-term drought resiliency:

“The implementation of this legislation will improve California’s water system as we know it,” said Rep. Jim Costa. “Its enactment is a positive step forward in a necessary series of efforts to create more reliable water supplies for the Valley and all Californians. Getting to this point required hard work and compromise from both sides of the aisle.”

Costa continued saying, “It is important for the California Congressional delegation to continue working together so we can build on this progress.  Ensuring a reliable water supply for the people of the San Joaquin Valley has always been, and will remain, one of my highest priorities in Congress. Successes like this one can only happen when Congress works on a bipartisan basis. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House, Senate, and upcoming Administration to implement permanent solutions that ensure California has a dynamic water system for all the diverse needs of the state in the 21st century.”

“The authorizations included in this legislation are of significant importance in our ongoing effort to eventually complete the New Exchequer Storage Enhancement Project,” said Hicham ElTal, MID Deputy General Manager of Water Supply Rights and Supply. “Significant work remains. However, MID is absolutely better positioned to move forward with the project as a result of this legislation. We are absolutely grateful for the work done by our local Congress Member Jim Costa. He and his staff have remained engaged with MID throughout this effort. We also appreciate the support we have received from other members of the Valley delegation of congressional representatives. Further, we greatly appreciate the efforts of Senator Dianne Feinstein. We look forward to all of their continued support as we proceed on this project.”

Information regarding the legislation Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act:

The legislation authorizes the following California water projects:

Merced County Impacts:

  • The bill authorizes a feasibility study for the Merced Streams Group project that was originally authorized in 1944 and has not yet been completed. Since 1997, 8 floods in the region have caused significant damage to communities in Merced County. This study, when complete, will evaluate and provide recommendations to move beyond the substandard 50-year flood planning to a much higher standard of flood protection.
  • Expedited completion of the Lower San Joaquin River flood risk management report.

California funding, reports and projects:

  • $1.5 billion in Flood Risk Management funds for the American River and West Sacramento projects
  • $20 million in Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk reduction funds to San Diego County
  • $70.5 million in Flood Risk Management, Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation funds for the South San Francisco Bay shoreline
  • $375 million in Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation funds for the LA River Expedited completion of the report for the Sacramento River Flood Control System
  • Authorization of the feasibility studies for the Cache Creek Settling Basin, the Coyote Valley Dam, the Del Rosa Channel, the Mission-Zanja Channel, and the Soboba Indian Reservation

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.
  • Expediting reviews of water transfers and temporary barriers – Expedites review of water 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 water 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, if they decide to pump at 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.

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.
    • $36 million for projects to improve California’s ecosystems, like the acquisition of additional water supplies for the Grasslands Ecological Preserve in Merced County, and additional salmon habitat throughout California.
    • Increases WaterSMART funding authorization by $100 million.

Source: Rep. Jim Costa


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