Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 23, known as the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017 (GROW Act), by a vote of 230 to 190. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. David Valadao (CA-21), aims at increasing the amount, quality, and reliability of water available to California. This is an important piece of legislation that follows on the heels of the passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation Act (WIIN Act) in 2016. A large portion of the bill focuses on modifying policies regarding the operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project and the implementation of the San Joaquin River Settlement. More specifically, the legislation does the following:
- EXPANDING WATER STORAGE The GROW Act requires the federal government to expedite and complete consideration of feasibility studies for water storage projects some of which have been wasting away in bureaucratic purgatory for over ten years
- IMPROVING INFRASTRUCTURE: “ONE-STOP-SHOP” PERMITTING The GROW Act establishes the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) as the lead coordinating agency for the permitting process for new or expanded surface storage facilities in order to streamline agency permit requirements that often impose unnecessary costs and burdens when constructing new water infrastructure
- ENSURING WATER RELIABILITY The GROW Act updates the Central Valley Project Improvement Act to ensure water resources are reliable and available to fulfill supply promises
- PROTECTING WATER RIGHTS The GROW Act prohibits past abuses of the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture that required private entities to relinquish their water rights to the federal government as a permit condition to continue operating on federal lands
- SAFEGUARDING THE ENVIRONMENT AND FISH The GROW Act provides reasonable flows for habitat restoration of fish and wildlife in the Central Valley and ensures compliance with requirements of the Endangered Species Act
The Association sent letters urging Congress to support the legislation, which now moves to the Senate where it will face a more fervent challenge. If you haven’t already done so, please write letters of support to our two (2) California Senators, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Kamala Harris.