Water is the lifeblood of our valley, and ensuring a safe and secure water supply is a top priority for me in Congress. Our farms, rivers, businesses and communities need a reliable and clean source of water for a successful and prosperous future. We must increase the amount of water we have in our reservoirs, making water move more freely to those in need and limiting the costs to its users.
I will continue to fight for local control of our precious resources by standing up against state and federal water grabs on the Stanislaus and Tuolumne rivers, proposing creative and cost-effective solutions that save threatened fish and advance our scientific knowledge of the fishery, and utilizing our local reservoirs for increased storage at no cost to the taxpayer. I will also promote efforts to strengthen and secure our flood control levees to protect vital resources and services like finally bringing improved flood control along Orestimba Creek and the San Joaquin river.
Here are a few of my recent accomplishments in the fight for Valley water storage, some of which have been years in the making.
My New WATER Act (H.R. 434), which provides innovative financing opportunities for water projects throughout the western United States, was signed into law in October 2018 as part of as part of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (WRDA). Eligible projects include new reservoirs, below ground storage projects, recycling and desalination projects. This legislation supports large projects like enlargement of Shasta Dam, construction of Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat Dam, and expanding Los Vaqueros Reservoir.
Shasta Dam enlargement is moving forward as a direct result of language I inserted into the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act and $20 million in funding approved in March 2018. Shasta Dam, taken together with construction of Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat Dam and expanding Los Vaqueros Reservoir, could add nearly 4 million acre-feet of available water for our state; help with flood control, ecosystem restoration and water quality; and generate more hydropower.
My amendment to put a stop to Sacramento’s dangerous water grab passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2018 as part of a Department of Interior appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019.
I led a bipartisan effort to award $4.3 million in federal funding for the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program. This project will provide a new supply (30,000+ acre-feet per year) of recycled water to the Del Puerto Water District. After being used by the cities of Modesto and Turlock, the water will go to Del Puerto to irrigate farm land and rehabilitate wildlife refuges and wetland areas.
The House passed H.R. 23, the Gaining Responsibility on Water (GROW) Act with an amendment I proposed to expedite the study of New Melones Reservoir and extend a pilot program to protect endangered species in the Stanislaus River. This bill fixes California’s complex and inconsistent system of laws, court rulings and regulations that have resulted in mismanagement of water in our state. It also expands infrastructure and storage, protects water rights, and updates the Central Valley Project Improvement Act to ensure water resources are predictable, reliable and remain available for future generations.
The “Save Our Salmon” pilot program I authored to address predation by invasive species against endangered salmon in the Stanislaus River is finally on schedule to get up and running in time for the 2019 field season.
I met with National Marine Fisheries Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials and worked with the Modesto Irrigation District and Turlock Irrigation District on the relicensing of the Don Pedro hydroelectric project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Getting this done in a responsible manner will secure our water supply, hydropower and recreational benefits for the next 50 years.
With an infrastructure package on the horizon, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to solve California’s water storage needs. I will continue advocating to include the major California water storage projects to solve California’s storage crisis one and for all. More information about that here.