WASHINGTON, DC – Northern California Lawmakers issued a strong warning today in response to emergency drought legislation passed by the U.S. Senate. From U.S. Reps. George Miller (CA-11), Mike Thompson (CA-5), Doris O. Matsui (CA-6), Jerry McNerney (CA-9), John Garamendi (CA-3), Jared Huffman (CA-2) and Ami Bera (CA-7):
“Senator Feinstein’s effort to produce workable solutions to California’s vexing water shortages is admirable. However, we remain deeply opposed to a provision of the Senate-passed legislation that could devastate the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the communities that depend on it. Unfortunately, this bill can only get worse through conference with House Republicans. The House Majority has already demonstrated their willingness to override state water law and environmental protections in the Delta. For this reason, we strongly caution our Senate colleagues from accepting any aspects of the destructive Valadao-Nunes bill, which does not provide any solutions to end water shortages, will irreparably damage the Bay-Delta, degrade drinking water quality and cost our state thousands of jobs. California needs to move toward sustainable water operations for the entire state not just one part.”
The following Bill was introduced in April by Senator Feinstein
Summary of Bill:
Introduced in Senate (04/01/2014)
Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014 – Requires the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Secretary of Commerce, and the Secretary of the Interior (Secretaries), in response to the declaration of a state of drought emergency in California, to provide the maximum quantity of water supplies possible to Central Valley Project (CVP) and Klamath Project agricultural, municipal and industrial, and refuge service and repayment contractors, State Water Project contractors, and any other locality or municipality in California by approving, consistent with applicable laws: (1) any project or operations to provide additional water supplies if there is any possible way the Secretaries can do so, unless the project or operations constitute a highly inefficient way of providing additional water supplies; and (2) any projects or operations as quickly as possible based on available information to address the emergency conditions.
Sets forth actions to be taken to increase water supply, including: (1) ensuring that the Delta Cross Channel Gates remain open to the greatest extent possible, (2) requiring the Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service to recommend revisions to operations of the CVP and the California State Water Project, (3) adopt a 1:1 inflow to export ratio for the increased flow of the San Joaquin River, (4) require the Director and the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation to complete all requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 necessary to make final permit decisions on water transfer requests, and (5) make WaterSMART grant funding allocated to California for eligible projects available on a priority and expedited basis.
Authorizes financial assistance under the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991 for projects to increase water supply.
Requires federal agency heads to consult with the Council on Environmental Quality to develop alternative arrangements to comply with NEPA.
Directs the EPA to prioritize projects under state water pollution control revolving funds to provide water to areas at risk of having an inadequate supply of water for public health and safety purposes or to improve resiliency to drought.
Requires the Commissioner of Reclamation to provide water supply planning assistance in preparation for and in response to dry, critically dry, and below normal water year types, upon request, to CVP or Klamath Project contractors or other reclamation project contractors in California, including contractors who possess contracts for refuge water supplies or who deliver refuge water supplies.
Reauthorizes: (1) the Calfed Bay-Delta Act, (2) the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991, and (3) the Secure Water Act.
Directs the Secretary of the Interior to fund or participate in pilot projects to increase Colorado River System water in Lake Mead and the initial units of Colorado River Storage Project reservoirs to address the effects of historic drought conditions.
Amends the Klamath Basin Water Supply Enhancement Act of 2000 to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to take actions to reduce water consumption or demand or to restore ecosystems in the Klamath Basin watershed, including tribal fishery resources held in trust.
Provides for the termination of authorities under this Act upon the suspension or withdrawal of the California drought emergency declaration.
Amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to expand federal emergency assistance to provide for disaster unemployment, emergency nutrition, and crisis counseling assistance.