Costa Joins Valadao in Continuing Efforts to Secure Water for California
Washington, DC – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. R. 23, the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017, by a vote of 230 to 190. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. David Valadao (CA-21), aims at increasing the amount, quality, and reliability of water available to communities in the Central Valley of California. A large portion of the bill focuses on modifying policies regarding the operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project and the implementation of the San Joaquin River Settlement.
Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) was the only Democrat to cosponsor the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017, although he raised concerns regarding specific provisions contained within the legislation. “I support moving this legislation through the House as an important first step for addressing California’s broken water system,” Congressman Costa stated. “However, improvements to this bill need to be made if it is going to provide the long-term solutions we so badly need in the San Joaquin Valley and other parts of California. We must protect the Grasslands Ecological Area, an area that contributes nearly $73,000,000 to Merced County’s economy, and we cannot allow drastic cuts to the Central Valley Project’s Restoration Fund as currently proposed in the bill.”
In addition to cosponsoring the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017, Costa proposed two amendments to strengthen the bill coming out of the House, both of which also passed today. The first amendment authorizes a study for increasing the amount of mountain runoff water captured by Central Valley Project reservoirs, and the second authorizes a study to evaluate the natural groundwater system in California to identify areas with the greatest recharge potential. Rep. Costa explained, “In order to fix California’s water system, we must approach the issue from multiple angles, which includes using more effectively the resources and tools we already have, such as forest management, watershed restoration, increased surface and subsurface storage, and increased groundwater recharge.
Costa continued, “After decades of working to secure water for California’s Central Valley, I can say with certainty that the only way we are going to continue to make progress towards a long-term solution here is by working together – All of us: both parties, both chambers. I stand ready to work with my fellow members of Congress in the House and Senate to improve this bill so we can get a bipartisan solution signed into law.”
Congressman Costa has been working on California water issues since his time in the California State Legislature, where he was first elected in 1978. Costa serves on the Water, Power, and Oceans Subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources, and he was a key player in getting the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act) passed in the House of Representatives in December 2016.