House votes for California Drought Relief
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, H.R. 2898 on Thursday that would mitigate the effects of California’s exceptional drought. The bill would increase the water supply by updating water-pumping regulations and would streamline the federal approval process to build and improve the state’s aging water infrastructure. Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley), who represents Yucaipa, was a cosponsor of the bill and voted for its passage.
“California is facing the worst drought in a century,” Cook said. “It’s inexcusable that the Bureau of Reclamation continues to drag its feet on new water storage projects to help capture rain and snow melt and relieve the drought. After years of inaction, it’s past time to complete these vital projects to increase our water storage capacity.”
The State Water Project and the Central Valley Water Project, two heavily relied upon water sources for the state, are in need of modernization and expansion, authors of the bill say. The projects were originally intended to support 22 million people; California is now home to 38 million.
The bill will increase water supply by increasing water pumping in the California Delta during periods of rain. This will allow pumping operations to capitalize on available water supply while maintaining a water environment that is safe for fish and the maintenance of farms.
California produces much of the nation’s food supply. Without adequate water, farms in the Central Valley have been forced to let fields go fallow.
“California agriculture is vital for keeping our nation’s food supply secure, producing over half of America’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts,” Cook said. “We must pass this bill to protect California, bring water to our communities, and maintain California’s role as a vital source of American food production.”
The House voted 245-176 in favor of the bill. The vote came the day after the California Water Commission approved an ordinance that prohibits new homes from having more than 25 percent of landscaped area dedicated to turf lawns.