Costa Introduces Legislation to Expand San Luis Reservoir

Jun 12, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Jim Costa and Rep. David Valadao introduced the Dams Accountability, Maintenance, and Safety Act. Under current law, if a modification or repair of a dam is identified by the Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau), the Secretary is authorized to look only at corrective actions that will remedy the specific safety problem.  This legislation would authorize the Secretary to evaluate other project benefits along with the safety modifications under the Safety of Dams process; allowing the Bureau to evaluate dam raises for additional storage, like at San Luis Reservoir, among other things.

“In the midst of this historic drought, it should be clear to everyone that California is in dire need of more water storage, which is why I am proud to introduce, with Rep. Valadao, the Dam Accountability, Maintenance, and Safety Act. This bill will provide the Bureau of Reclamation an additional tool to update and modernize our nation’s federal dams when critical safety work is being performed, providing increased economies of scale and additional cost savings for the public. I have long stated that it is crucial that we expand the storage capacity of dams in California, and the tools brought to bear by this legislation can be used to increase the storage capacity of San Luis Reservoir and provide some much needed resiliency to Valley water supplies,” said Rep. Costa.  

“The additional authorities given to the Secretary under this bipartisan legislation will ensure that California is better equipped to combat future droughts,” continued Costa. “While we are still working to find short-term solutions to bring much-needed water to the Valley, this bill is critical if we are to develop long-term storage solutions to fix our broken water system.” 

Currently, the Bureau of Reclamation is responsible for maintaining more than 400 dams in the Western United States. Approximately 50 percent of America’s dams were built between 1900 and 1950. Due to their size and aging infrastructure, they are no longer able to keep up with the nation’s growing water demands.  An expansion of San Luis Reservoir could increase storage capacity by between 130,000 acre-feet to 400,000 acre-feet, with increased annual yield between 43,000 acre-feet to 71,000 acre-feet.