Posted June 29, 2015
California lawmakers passed a new budget that would make a range of policy changes intended to address the drought, according to an article by the LA Times available here. Daily Democrat also published an article available hereand AgWeb here.
The changes would allow faster construction of water recycling projects, increase fines for water wasters and empower the state to force failing water agencies to consolidate.
The bill by Republican Congressman David Valadao of Hanford comes closer to what Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein pushed through the Senate last year, but there are also considerable differences. For example, the House bill scraps efforts to restore a Chinook salmon fishery in the San Joaquin River, which was the goal of a 2006 lawsuit settlement, according to AgWeb.
Valadao said Congress needs to act because the consequences of California’s drought are spreading.
“Inaction will result in the collapse of our domestic food supply,” he said.
The California Farm Bureau Federation voiced its support for water legislation—the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, according to Daily Democrat.
“There’s no time to waste,” CFBF President Paul Wenger said in a press release. “The noose is tightening around many California farms and ranches, as water supplies become more restricted. All Californians and all Americans depend on the food and farm products grown in our state, and will benefit from policies that add flexibility to California water management.”
The bill requires agencies to consider alternatives to reduced pumping, such as installing temporary barriers to prevent saltwater intrusion or removing non-native fish that eat protected fish such as the delta smelt and certain salmon species.
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California criticized the House bill, according to AgWeb.
“It’s unfortunate that House Republicans — with much fanfare — are rolling out a bill that is the same-old, same-old and will only reignite the water wars,” Boxer said.
For more information on water law, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.