Costa: Cooperation Only Way to Bring Valley More Water

FRESNO, CA – Congressman Jim Costa expressed his deep anger during a hearing in Fresno over the lack of progress on solutions to bring additional water to the Valley. Costa has time and again supported policies advanced by his colleagues on both sides if they meet the simple test that they have the potential to improve water reliability. During the hearing, Costa urged his colleagues to put aside sound bites, stop playing the blame game, and get to work on a compromise bill that can clear both the House and the Senate.

“No one will bear the burden of this drought more than the farmers, farm workers, and farm communities in our Valley,” said Costa. “We will see its effects in lost jobs, in families standing in food lines to provide for their meals, in the incredible burden on mothers and fathers trying to provide for the basic needs of their family while the fertile ground beneath their feet lies dry and fallow.

“Like you, I am angry. I am angry that in the face of devastation we continue to point fingers and play the blame game, which does not bring us one additional drop of water.”

Congressman Costa has introduced The California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014 with California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, which has the potential to generate more than 500,000 acre-feet for water agencies that receive water from the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project according to some estimates. This legislation aims to expedite the use of federal flexibility under the law to address emergency conditions in the state. By cutting red-tape, this bill will yield immediate water for farmers and communities in the San Joaquin Valley once enacted. The bill would also authorize $300 million for disaster assistance programs.

In addition, the current drought has highlighted the dire need for long-term water solutions, especially increasing the state’s storage capacity. In February, Costa introduced legislation with statewide support that would authorize construction at Shasta Dam, San Luis Reservoir, and Temperance Flat.

Last May, Costa introduced H.R.1927, the More Water and Security for Californians Act, which is similar to the legislation considered by the House today. That bill provides congressional direction for the implementation of the Endangered Species Act and restores balance to our water availability that is lacking. Had the provisions in Costa’s bill been approved, California’s water system would have an additional 250,000 acre-feet of water in storage from the 2013 water year.