Congress Approves 2020 Water Resources Development Act

By on December 11, 2020
Congress to approve Westlands Water District, Bureau of Reclamation deal

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved the 2020 Water Resources Development Act. The legislation – commonly referred to as WRDA – is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law before the end of the year. Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure secured several key provisions for the California Delta and Central Valley.

“This bipartisan legislation supports levee projects throughout the Sacramento Valley, which will provide critical flood protection and make local communities more resilient to climate change,” said Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA). “I secured provisions in this bill to authorize and expedite construction of flood protection and aquatic ecosystem restoration projects, address harmful algal blooms in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and give local agencies greater flexibility in using federal Army Corps funds to meet local needs. Working together, Congress has provided the federal support needed to keep key flood control projects in the Sacramento Valley on time and on budget heading into flood season.”

Congressman Garamendi secured the following provisions in the “Water Resources Development Act of 2020” (H.R.7575):

Delta “Focus Area” for New Army Corps Harmful Algal Bloom Program: Working with Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Garamendi included all 5 California Delta counties (Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, and Yolo) as a “focus area” for the new Army Corps Harmful Algal Bloom Demonstration Program to determine the causes of, and implement measures to effectively detect, prevent, treat, and eliminate, harmful algal blooms associated with Army Corps Dredging and flood control projects. This will help protect the Delta’s precious ecosystem from toxic algal blooms.

Yuba River Ecosystem Restoration: Garamendi secured Congressional authorization for the Yuba River Ecosystem Restoration Project. Once completed, this project will restore approximately 178 acres of aquatic and riparian habitat along the lower Yuba River, between Englebright Dam and the confluence of the Yuba and Feather Rivers, downstream of Marysville.

Yolo Bypass System Improvement: Working with Rep. Doris O. Matsui (CA-06), Garamendi included the “Yolo Bypass System Improvement Act” to develop a coordinated planning and review process for all restoration projects and federal permitting in the Yolo Bypass.

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Islands and Levees: Working with Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Garamendi secured Congressional authorization for the Delta Islands and Levees Ecosystem Restoration Project, at the request of California’s Department of Water Resources. This project will restore the interior Delta’s ecosystem and provide vital flood control.

Sacramento Riverbed Gradient Restoration Facility: Garamendi transferred control of the riverbed gradient restoration facility in the Sacramento River to the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District. These riverbed gradient restoration structures were constructed along miles 205 and 206 of the Sacramento River Flood Control Project, as part of fish screen improvement projects for the Hamilton City Pumping Plant.

Western Pacific Interceptor Canal: Garamendi transferred control of a portion of the Western Pacific Interceptor Canal to the Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority, removing this canal section from unnecessary inspection, and operation, maintenance by the Army Corps as it no longer serves a purpose.

San Francisco Bay to Stockton Navigation Improvement: Working with Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Garamendi expedited completion of the Army Corps feasibility study for the San Francisco Bay to Stockton Navigation Improvement Project. This feasibility study examines deepening the John F. Baldwin and Stockton Deepwater Ship Channels from their existing depths of -35 feet mean lower low water to -40 feet and beneficially reusing dredged sediment for marsh restoration of subsided islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

City of Woodland and Lower Cache Creek Flood Risk Management: Garamendi expedited completion of the feasibility study for the Army Corps’ Lower Cache Creek Flood Risk Management Project with the City of Woodland, Central Valley Flood Protection Board, and California Department of Water Resources to reduce flood risk and lower the cost of flood insurance for property owners.

Sacramento Regional Water Bank: Working with Reps. Doris O. Matsui (CA-06) and Ami Bera (CA-07), Garamendi expanded the Army Corps’ environmental infrastructure assistance to the Sacramento Area to include all of Sacramento County and increase from $35 million to $45 million the authorized federal funding to support the development of the Sacramento Regional Water Authority’s proposed groundwater bank.

Sutter Bypass and Sacramento River Basin Feasibility Study: Garamendi secured Congressional authorization for a new Army Corps study for improved flood risk management in southern Sutter County between the Sacramento River and Sutter Bypass, at the request of Reclamation District 1500 and the Sutter Mutual Water Company.

Federal Support for Earthquake-resistant Projects: Working with Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Garamendi ensured that Army Corps flood control projects like dams and levees requiring earthquake-resistance and other seismic safety costs in California remain equally competitive for federal funding compared to projects in states without earthquakes.

This is the fourth biennial Water Resources Development Act passed by Congress since 2014.