Representative Joh Harder has announced the Securing Access for the Central Valley and Enhancing (SAVE) Water Resources Act. The bill provides a wraparound approach to addressing water issues facing the Central Valley by increasing storage opportunities, spurring innovation, and making long-overdue investments in aging water infrastructure. Although water politics are often adversarial, Harder has spent months sourcing water ideas directly from a wide array of local stakeholders and experts to ensure the final bill attends to the needs of a diverse set of interests. The bill has broad bipartisan support from over a dozen local organizations and elected officials.
“We’re stuck in a 20th century mindset on water use that fools us into believing the answer to our water problems is to take it from someone else – pitting us against each other. Southern California against Northern California. Farmer against fisherman, and Democrat against Republican. But after the worst drought in our history, we’re all finally starting to understand that that system doesn’t work,” said Harder. “We have the most variable rainfall in the country here in California – if we had passed this law 20 years ago like we should have, we wouldn’t be seeing a wet year like this one as a complete missed opportunity to invest in our future water needs and store valuable water for times in need.”
The SAVE Water Resources Act touches on a broad range of water policy areas aimed at increasing water storage opportunities, spurring innovation in water sustainability, and making responsible federal investments in aging water infrastructure.
The bill aims to improve water storage by requiring the Bureau of Reclamation to expedite feasibility studies for four specific storage projects in the Central Valley, including: Sites Reservoir, Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir, Los Vaqueros and San Luis Reservoirs and provides $100 million in storage funding. It also helps farmers prepare for SGMA by leveraging federal resources to identify prime locations for groundwater storage and recharge in California and across the Western United States.
To help spur innovation, the bill creates the “X-Prize” program to incentivize private sector development of cutting-edge water projects. It also invests in water reuse and recycling by increasing funding for WaterSMART programs from $50 million to $500 million and extending the program’s authorization.
Also, the bill establishes a water infrastructure and drought solutions fund to provide $300 million for water surface and groundwater storage, water reclamation and reuse, and WaterSMART program projects. It creates an innovative financing program which would provide low-interest federal loans to fund local water infrastructure projects and reauthorizes the Rural Water Supply Act, which requires the Bureau of Reclamation to work with rural communities to improve access to safe and clean sources of drinking water.
The bill is supported by elected officials of both parties. The bill is cosponsored by Congressmen John Garamendi, Ami Bera, TJ Cox, and Jim Costa. It also has the support of California State Senators Anna Caballero, Cathleen Galgiani, and Andreas Borgeas; California Assemblymen Heath Flora and Adam Gray; Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa, and Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak.
It is also supported by a diverse set of stakeholders, including: Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, Western Growers Association, Modesto Irrigation District, Turlock Irrigation District, Oakdale Irrigation District, South San Joaquin Irrigation District, Del Puerto Water District, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, and Stanislaus County.
“We need Congressman Harder to be a leader in Congress for our water rights in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Assemblyman Flora. “The SAVE Water Resources Act is a great step forward for the families and businesses that rely on a reliable clean source of water. Only through a bipartisan approach can we achieve a successful solution to our water needs and provide for much-needed water storage.”
“The Stanislaus County Farm Bureau would like to recognize Congressman Harder’s efforts in drafting the SAVE Water Resources Act that addresses so many issues currently facing the district and the entire Central Valley,” said Darrell Cordova, Stanislaus County Farm Bureau Board President. “His act encompasses the major drivers that affect our members and communities in agriculture: infrastructure, storage, technology, finance, rural water supply, recycling and groundwater management.”