Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-9th District-Stockton) unveiled new legislation for improving long-term water sustainability in California, and throughout the country, earlier this week. At a press conference in Stockton, Rep. McNerney has proposed the Water and Energy Sustainability through Technology Act (WEST Act) as an alternative to Gov. Jerry’s Brown’s controversial WaterFix and the twin tunnels.
McNerney’s WEST Act proposes that reimbursements would be authorized for recycling and reuse projects that create new water. Regional self-sufficiency would be improved through the encouragement of stormwater capture and increased water storage. The bill would cut tax breaks for the oil and gas industries. Additionally, a study would be required on ways to improve leak detection location, mapping, and communications for pipeline systems and provide grants to implement these solutions.
“It’s time to change the narrative and focus on practical, forward-thinking solutions instead of high-cost, short-term fixes,” said Congressman McNerney. “California has long been a leading innovator in energy and technology and we now have the opportunity to apply that type of ingenuity to modernizing our water systems.”
Speaking at Weber Point in Stockton, Rep. McNerney challenged Gov. Brown’s $17 billion tunnels project saying, “Our water infrastructure is declining and in need of repair. Water supply in California, and across the nation, is a serious challenge, but we’ve only been presented with short-sighted and ill-conceived plans that rely on the shipment of water from one area to another. Instead, we should be focusing on creating water sustainability through conservation, recycling, and capture.”
The WEST Act also suggests that the U.S. work more closely with Israeli officials to learn more about their water-saving technologies. Rep. McNerney’s plan would also establish a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation groundwater information system and groundwater management technical assistance, in addition to a smart energy and water efficiency program to support innovative technology solutions for agricultural use. Plans would also be researched and implemented to improve water efficiency within federal buildings.
Fritz Buchman with the San Joaquin County Department of Public Works hailed Rep. McNerney’s WEST Act at the press conference saying it would, “contribute to a brighter water future.”
In concluding the press conference Rep. McNerney stated that he, “…hopes this changes the narrative. We need to change the way people think about water.”