Like Causes?

Install the App
TRY NOW

house Bill H.R. 2898

Should There Be Increased Flexibility for Water Management in Dealing With the Drought in the Western States?

Argument in favor

More needs to be done to increase the availability of water for irrigation in drought-affected areas of the Western U.S. This includes finding ways to maximize the use of existing water projects, while protecting water rights and making it easier to build needed dams and reservoirs.

josephlacko's Opinion
···
07/16/2015
The Delta Smelt situation is ridiculous. The State of California needs to reprioritize its needs and the Smelt should be put at risk before the nations food supply is.
Like (10)
Follow
Share
Curmudgeon's Opinion
···
07/15/2015
Increase the so called flexibility by turning off the spigot that dumps enormous quantities of freshwater runoff straight into San Fransicko Bay to coddle the ecofreaks and their delta minnows.
Like (9)
Follow
Share
Aidan-WC's Opinion
···
04/21/2016
We must contain a flexible plan all over our nation to prioritize properly accomplishing that every state,region, and city receives the water they deserve. If we have a more flexible balance in water management in western states our government and the water industry would be promoting more green in the deserts and encouraging an abundance of water supply to nourish ALL OF OUR CITIZENS. Any agricultural contribution to the environment would greatly influence the fact that all Americans are receiving the necessary water supply.
Like (4)
Follow
Share

Argument opposed

This legislation jeopardizes environmental protections for threatened species like the nearly extinct Delta Smelt — which cannot survive increased use of water for irrigation. Consolidating environmental reviews and permits will reduce the amount public input on proposed projects.

StephenHooper's Opinion
···
07/15/2015
Water deregulation? Wtf? Did nestlee sponsor this bill?
Like (11)
Follow
Share
joshualogancook's Opinion
···
07/16/2015
There is a finite amount of fresh water available. shunting more of it to satisfy our in efficient methods only alleviates us in the short term whole causing long term disasters such as drained aquifers and loss of habitat.
Like (6)
Follow
Share
Daniel's Opinion
···
07/15/2015
If farming is no longer viable in a region, then logic would suggest that the farm be moved to a more suitable area. Attempting to irrigate the Sahara is the definition of stupidity.
Like (4)
Follow
Share

What is House Bill H.R. 2898?

This bill aims to provide a comprehensive solution addressing the severe drought that is affecting California and the Western U.S. by expanding water infrastructure and enhancing water conservation, while protecting water rights.


Federal agencies would be given more operational flexibility in maximizing water projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta while still satisfying the needs of protected species like the delta smelt. They would be directed to pump as much water as possible south of the Delta when there are drought conditions, and continue doing so for two normal water years after the drought has ended. The decision making process for water projects would be streamlined to ensure that decisions are made in an expedited manner. If there is not expected to be any harm to protected species, federal agencies would be directed to increase pumping operations.


Protected fisheries — including the delta smelt — would be monitored using the most accurate survey methods available to determine how water projects could be maximized without causing significant impacts to the smelt. For salmon fisheries, agencies would be directed to identify management actions other than reducing the pumping of water that could enhance salmon recovery. This would be accomplished by quantifying the benefit to salmon species from reductions in pumping.


The permitting process for constructing new dams and reservoirs would be consolidated to eliminate redundant permits that multiple agencies require for federal and non-federal projects. This “one-stop-shop” would coordinate all reviews, analysis, opinions, permits, licenses or other required federal approvals for proposed projects.


For the construction of large multi-purpose dams and reservoirs, the feasibility study must be completed within three years of it being started, and cost no more than $3 million to the federal government. This could be extended by seven years if the Secretary of the Interior (DOI) provides a detailed justification to Congress. To reduce duplications in the review process, the DOI and the non-federal project sponsor (in this case a state agency) would work together on conducting an expedited environmental review.


Water users — like irrigation districts and water utilities — would be able to pre-pay their repayment contracts for using Bureau of Reclamation facilities instead of having to pay them over the long term. This allows the irrigation districts and water utilities to avoid being subject to land-use restrictions and paperwork requirements that they are required to comply with as long as they are in the debt of the Bureau of Reclamation. Current federal law prohibits those contracts from being repaid early, thus forcing water users to make small, long-term repayments.


To better fulfill the Bureau of Reclamation’s dam safety responsibility, the Bureau could study and construct improvements to dams and reservoirs if they are found to be feasible. Beneficiaries of the project would contribute to paying for such projects. Current law prohibits the Bureau from considering structural improvements while it is making safety repairs.


The Depts. of the Interior and Agriculture would be prohibited from conditioning or withholding the issuance, renewal, amendments, or extension of land use permits based on the limitation of water rights. Federal agencies would also be prohibited from requiring water users to apply for or acquire a water right in the name of the U.S. under state law to access the water. These provisions reaffirms the rights of states to develop their own systems of water law by preventing the federal government from asserting jurisdiction over those water rights.

Impact

Farmers in drought affected areas — particularly those irrigating using water projects in California, conservationists concerned about the Delta Smelt and other protected species, agencies managing water projects, state governments, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Dept. of the Interior.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2898

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) — the sponsor of this legislation — said that:
“California’s drought has devastated communities throughout the Central Valley and now the consequences are extending throughout the country. Inaction will result in the collapse of our domestic food supply. Congress cannot make it rain but we can enact policies that expand our water infrastructure, allow for more water conveyance, and utilize legitimate science to ensure a reliable water supply for farmers and families.”

Expressing agreement with some portions of this bill, while disapproving of others, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said that this legislation:

“Includes some useful provisions to increase the flexibility of water delivery as well as some provisions that would violate environmental law, which I’ve said many times I cannot support. I continue to believe we need a comprehensive approach with both short- and long-term solutions to include increased flexibility as well as desalination, water storage, and water recycling.”

This legislation has 26 cosponsors, and was passed by the House Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 23 to 12. During the 113th Congress, House Republicans and Senate Democrats were negotiating a bipartisan solution, but a final deal was not reached before the session ended. Republicans believe that this proposal reflects the fruits of those negotiations, although Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) is currently drafting a proposal of her own in the Senate.


Of Note: In 2013, California’s farms produced $46.4 billion in crops, including $7.6 billion of milk, $5.8 billion of almonds, $5.6 billion of grapes, and more than $3 billion of cattle and calves. Of the total output, over $21 billion was exported, and California alone accounted for 14.7 percent of U.S. agricultural exports. The prolonged drought that California is experiencing is anticipated to have a “major impact” on its agricultural production according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA).

According to the USDA’s Drought Monitor, nearly all of California is considered to be in “exceptional” drought — the most severe intensity measured. Indeed, California’s drought is the longest since the state began keeping records over 100 years ago, and could inflict up to $2.2 billion in losses on the agriculture industry.

The Delta Smelt has been the focus of considerable blame for the inability of water projects to convey water to farmers, as environmental agencies have blocked water transfers to protect the nearly-extinct fish’s habitat. Since 2008, regulators have allowed 1.4 trillion gallons of water to flow into San Francisco Bay with an eye toward the fish’s conservation, but Delta Smelt populations are at the lowest level since 1967 with only eight new juvenile fish identified in the fall of 2014.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickruser USDAgov)

AKA

Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015

Official Title

To provide drought relief in the State of California, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • The house Passed July 16th, 2015
    Roll Call Vote 245 Yea / 176 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Agriculture
      Water, Oceans, and Wildlife
      Committee on Natural Resources
    IntroducedJune 25th, 2015

Log in or create an account to see how your Reps voted!
    The Delta Smelt situation is ridiculous. The State of California needs to reprioritize its needs and the Smelt should be put at risk before the nations food supply is.
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    Water deregulation? Wtf? Did nestlee sponsor this bill?
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    Increase the so called flexibility by turning off the spigot that dumps enormous quantities of freshwater runoff straight into San Fransicko Bay to coddle the ecofreaks and their delta minnows.
    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
    There is a finite amount of fresh water available. shunting more of it to satisfy our in efficient methods only alleviates us in the short term whole causing long term disasters such as drained aquifers and loss of habitat.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    If farming is no longer viable in a region, then logic would suggest that the farm be moved to a more suitable area. Attempting to irrigate the Sahara is the definition of stupidity.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    We must contain a flexible plan all over our nation to prioritize properly accomplishing that every state,region, and city receives the water they deserve. If we have a more flexible balance in water management in western states our government and the water industry would be promoting more green in the deserts and encouraging an abundance of water supply to nourish ALL OF OUR CITIZENS. Any agricultural contribution to the environment would greatly influence the fact that all Americans are receiving the necessary water supply.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    People take priority over small ecosystems,
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    Shut down nestle water bottling it would save water for crops bottling can be done in other states
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    I live in the Central Valley. Our Rivers are dry, our wells are drying up, we have had not enough rain water to replenish the water used just to live. Most of our water goes to LA or The SF area. Fish are the priority for California instead of farmers or tax paying citizens. We are being chocked out and will have little or no water at all. While other states flood and have an excess of water we have none. While we just got 10 ft of snow in our mountains with the next rain the water will melt that snow. They are sending that runoff into the ocean instead of filling out rivers back up and replenishing our groundwater. When is human life going to be a priority for California?
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    Keep the environmental nut jobs out of it! Washington is to blame for thousands of lost jobs in CA alone due to water restrictions.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    Inter basin transfer and allocation allotment must be carefully considered in any water use program, especially in water use from groundwater and surface water bodies to prevent aquatic species extinction and irreparable water resource depletion.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    Golf courses and green plush lawns do not take priority over water people need to drink and bathe their children. Rich water is not better than poor water.
    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
    NOT AS LONG AS CALIFORINA LETS 1/3 OF ALL DRINKABLE WATER RUN OFF INTO THE OCEAN FOR A 2" FISH NO ONE CAN EAT. THEY DESERVE TO GO THRISTY!
    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
    Sites reservoir is a must in order for the drought to ever end.
    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
    Federal government should NEVER be in the position of legislating for the benefit any one state - that is not its role. Abolish the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Fish & Wildlife - there is no Constitutional basis for these bureaucracies, and their purview should be left to the States. Our government's $18+ trillion debt should be foremost in the minds of our representatives, along with the question, "How can we fix this now". Start by limiting government to its Constitutional foundation, and leaving the rest to the States.
    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
    Water contracts should be flexible and modifiable in years of drought. Northern California supplies Southern California with water via the California Aqueduct and it's not right to see Pyramid Lake north of LA full of water that drained Northern California rivers, lakes and dams such as Folsom Lake. Folsom Lake got so low last year due to water contracts for Southern California that to supply local and regional water needs they had to use pumps to siphon water out of the muddy dregs of the lake. That shouldn't be allowed to happen, there should be a right to emergency renegotiation to preserve local water rights. I saw the water levels of each of these reservoirs this past year and it illustrated how urgent the need for change is to the way multi-year water contracts are negotiated so they can be renegotiated to balance the needs of all customers in times of drought.
    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
    To save water you need to stop wasting so much of it on cattle!!!!
    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
    Growing anything in the desert is a foolish plan and unnatural and unsustainable on the level it has grown to. Don't support stupid.
    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
    Agriculture in what should be a desert will always be unsustainable. Stop wasting resources trying to keep a desert green.
    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
    Just build a salination plalnt like they have in Arabia. Problem solved.
    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
    MORE