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Houses OKs water infrastructure bill that includes drought provisions

POSTED December 14, 2016 8:34 a.m.
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The U.S House of Representatives on Thursday passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, a comprehensive water resources infrastructure legislation that includes stipulations to improve California's water system and alleviate strain to drought-stricken communities throughout the Valley.

The WIIN Act, which passed the House by a vote of 360-61 and is the cause of contention between Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Barbara Boxer, is now slated to go to the Senate for consideration.

The WIIN Act is legislation that invests America's harbors, locks, dams, flood protection, ports, channels and other water resources infrastructure, with provisions that aim to improve drinking water safety, storage and delivery.

One provision that is included in WIIN is Congressman Jeff Denham's Save Our Salmon Act, which would effectively remove the fish doubling provision in the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act for non-native, predatory striped bass in order to protect native salmon and steelhead, as well as reduce nonessential water usage.

"The timing of these drought conditions is critical so our water system can capture and store desperately needed water," said Denham. "The regulatory flexibility of the provisions will benefit the Valley and allow our local districts to begin protecting our threatened salmon and steelhead from non-native predatory fish and to allow for additional storage at New Melones Reservoir."

Denham was not alone in voicing his support of the WIIN Act earlier this week as the California Farm Bureau Federation said that the bill would "allow California to take full advantage of coming winter storms."

"As California faces a potential sixth consecutive drought year, it's critical for Congress to do what it can to assure we can capture as much water as possible from winter storms, while maintaining protections for the environment," said CFBF President Paul Wenger. "The WIIN bill offers a balanced solution to help pay for long-overdue water supply, conservation and recycling projects."

"Senator Feinstein, Representative [Kevin] McCarthy and other California members of Congress have worked hard, in good faith, to produce legislation that will benefit our entire state," said Wenger. "We've watched too often as water from winter storms has flowed uncaptured out to sea. We have to become more sophisticated at operating our water system to store as much water as we can while meeting environmental and other needs. This bill moves us in that direction and deserves congressional support."

 

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