Rep. Garamendi Introduces Legislation to Provide Federal Financing for Sites Reservoir

Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA 03) introduced the “WIFIA Improvement Act” (H.R.8217) yesterday.

The legislation would amend the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) of 2014 to make public water projects like the off-stream Sites Reservoir Project eligible for low-interest, longer-term federal loans from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Specifically, the bill would allow water projects with longer useful lifecycles like Sites Reservoir to receive federal WIFIA financing for 55-year loan terms instead of the current 35-year loan terms, thereby lowering the capital costs for such projects.

Congressman Garamendi’s bill would also clarify that federally owned but locally maintained infrastructure for the Central Valley Project like the C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant northwest of Tracy, California, are also eligible for WIFIA loans for capital improvement and modernization costs. While maintained at local cost by the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, the Jones Pumping Plant remains legally owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as part of the Central Valley Project.

“This bipartisan legislation would unlock nearly $6 billion in low-interest federal financing for California water projects, including to build the off-stream Sites Reservoir and to modernize the pumps for the Central Valley Project. We need all the federal and state resources we can get to meet California’s future water supply needs and achieve a truly drought-resilient water system given climate change. I thank my Congressional colleagues for their support of this critical legislation to make smart federal investments to upgrade and modernize California’s water supply,” said Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA03).

In February 2019, Congressman Garamendi introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R.1435) directing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to expedite the necessary federal feasibility study for the Sites Reservoir Project. To date, Congressman Garamendi has helped secure more than $1.2 billion in state and federal funding to build the off-stream reservoir.

The full text of H.R.8217 can be viewed here.

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