New Federal Law Allows for Real Progress in Securing Valley Water and Increasing Drought Resilience
Merced, CA – The San Joaquin Valley is set to see substantial benefits from today’s enactment of new federal water legislation, including increases in the Valley’s ability to work through back-to-back years of drought conditions and reduce the risk of flooding during wet years.
Thanks to the bipartisan leadership of Congressmen Jim Costa (CA-16) and Jeff Denham (CA-10), America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) includes provisions that open doors for water projects previously sealed shut by unnecessary bureaucratic red tape and expands financing options and incentives for investing in new water storage. Combined, these lay the path for the first new surface water storage in the Valley in decades, supporting local irrigation districts in their efforts to raise spillway gates, build new water storage facilities, and repair and expand dams, reservoirs, and other water projects.
Last week Rep. Costa, Merced Irrigation District (MID), and Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce held a press conference to discuss what this new legislation would mean for the Merced community and the people of the Valley.
“Water is the lifeblood of our Valley, and we must have safe, reliable sources of water in both wet and dry years,” said Rep. Costa. “America’s Water Infrastructure Act uses multiple approaches to help increase surface water storage in the Valley, which will strengthen our resilience to drought. This will provide our communities with more than just water; It also increases the certainty our local economy needs to thrive and protects our way of life.”
Hicham ElTal, MID Deputy General Manager of Water Supply and Rights, said, “We have worked on this issue for many years and this represents a key first step for MID in enhancing storage in Lake McClure. We appreciate the work of Congressman Costa and other local Congress members, as well as the community for supporting us in this endeavor.”
“We are excited for progress on this project, which will increase water storage and water supplies for Merced County,” shared Rene Gutierrez, President of Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “The water in the Valley means jobs. Water impacts everyone, not just ranchers and farm workers, but everyone. Our jobs and way of life are at risk. Water is everyone's business and vital to the Central Valley community.”