Last week Congressman David Valadao introduced H.R. 2898, commonly known as the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015. The legislation would modernize water policies throughout California and the West Coast. Support for the bill comes from the entire California Republican delegation, the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and Chairman of the Water Caucus.
One of the most powerful aspects of the bill focuses on the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). The strict regulations of ESA has hindered the ability to deliver water to Central and Southern California. H.R. 2898 would require federal agencies to use the most up-to-date information and data when making regulatory decisions on which species to protect.
“California’s drought has devastated communities throughout the Central Valley and now the consequences are extending throughout the country,” said Valadao, the legislation’s author. “Inaction will result in the collapse of our domestic food supply. Congress cannot make it rain but we can enact policies that expand our water infrastructure, allow for more water conveyance and utilize legitimate science to ensure a reliable water supply for farmers and families.”
The Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015 would also provide federal regulations with direction and flexibility to capture water during periods of greater precipitation. That water could then be used to increase California’s water supply. It would also give the green light to major water storage projects that have been authorized and approved for more than a decade, which would provide the entire West Coast with water during extremely dry years.
“This situation demands congressional action to tackle the man-made barriers that are needlessly choking off water supplies crucial not just for California jobs but for the food on American tables,” said Western Caucus Chairman and Natural Resources Vice Chairman Cynthia Lummis (WY- at-large). “I am pleased to work with my Californian colleagues to ensure we also seize this opportunity to address water issues west wide through water project permit streamlining, enhanced water storage and protecting state-endowed rights that are increasingly under attack at the federal level.”
Original cosponsors of the bill include: Reps. Ken Calvert (CA-42), Paul Cook (CA-08), Jim Costa (CA-16), Jeff Denham (CA-10), Duncan Hunter (CA-50), Darrel Issa (CA-49), Stephen Knight (CA-25), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Tom McClintock (CA-04), Devin Nunes (CA-22), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), Edward Royce (CA-39), Mimi Walters (CA-45), Mark Amodei (NV-02), Rodney Davis (IL-13), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Cresent Hardy (NV-04), David Joyce (OH-14), Cynthia Lummis (WY-At-Large), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Michael Simpson (ID-02), Chris Stewart (UT-02), Scott Tipton (CO-03) and Ryan Zinke (MT-At-Large).