Rep. Cook Co-sponsors Legislation to Repurpose Federal Funds for Long-term Water Availability

By on March 11, 2019
Yucaipa Conserves Water 23 Percent

Yucaipa’s Representative Paul Cook (R-8th District-Apple Valley) has joined with all fellow California Republican Congressmen in co-sponsoring new legislation authored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-23rd District-Bakersfield) that calls for repurposing up to $3.5 billion in recovered federal funding originally earmarked for California’s High-Speed Speed Rail project for use instead for California’s water storage infrastructure projects as outlined in the bipartisan WIIN Act.

The 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act) addresses, supports and improves America’s drinking water infrastructure. The WIIN Act contains three specific titles: Title I—Water Resources Development; Title II – Water and Waste Act of 2016; Title III – Natural Resources. A fourth Title within the Act is title: Other Matters.

Rep. McCarthy’s H.R. 1600, the Repurposing Assets to Increase Long-term Water Availability and Yield (RAILWAY) Act, is written to accomplish three important things:

  • Ends the California High Speed Rail (HSR) Project: The RAILWAY Act would reflect reality and end Federal participation in the HSR project, consistent with the Federal Railway Administration (FRA) notification of February 19, 2019, in the Central Valley and repurpose funds to critical water infrastructure projects.
  • Increases Drought Resiliency in California and the West: The RAILWAY Act would provide significant funding to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act program that the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) uses to design and construct various large-scale water infrastructure projects in California and the West, including expanding existing and building new reservoirs, thereby increasing drought resiliency in western states.
  • Helps Keep Federal Funds in California: By providing significant funding to the WIIN Act program that the DOI is using to advance the Shasta Dam and Reservoir Enlargement Project, the Sites Reservoir Storage Project, the Upper San Joaquin River Basin Storage Project, the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Phase 2 Expansion Project, and the Friant-Kern Canal subsidence correction project, all which are located in California, the RAILWAY Act would help ensure repurposed Federal funds remain in California to create jobs and build needed infrastructure.

Rep. Cook noted that the HSR Project has been fraught with mismanagement and high costs. Initially projected to cost $33.6 billion, it has ballooned to more than an estimated $77 billion. In addition, the project has continually failed to meet deadlines and the $10-$12 billion in promised private investment has never materialized. Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom said that the HSR Project would take too long to build and that there “simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego.” The RAILWAY Act would also provide funding through the US Department of Agriculture to award grants to rural communities to help them develop new sources of water and reduce, or eliminate, elevated nitrate levels in drinking water.

“The last major reservoir in California was built forty years ago,” Rep. Cook said. “Since then, our population has grown significantly, and we’re ill-prepared to endure droughts. It’s time we take action to increase our water supply and modernize our water infrastructure. This bill makes good use of funds that were already going to be spent in California. I hope that Congress will pass this legislation quickly.”