Committee Members Visit California to Witness Water Storage Challenges, Community Impacts
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 11, 2023 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) joined Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries Chairman Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) and other members of Congress on field tours and a hearing to learn more about the ongoing water issues in California and how they have impacted local communities.
"Today's hearing highlighted the long list of policy failures that have led to California's ongoing water challenges. We've heard from communities and farmers who are in dire need of increased water storage, yet at every turn the projects they support are blocked by extremists in DC. Even in this year of record precipitation, we're hearing from experts who are concerned about water shortages in the near future. The legislation we discussed today, the WATER for California Act and the FISH Act, will help solve these pressing issues and ensure California has the water infrastructure and policy it needs to face the problems of the future." – House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)
"Almost all of the western United States has been suffering from severe drought. This winter brought temporary relief in the form of record amounts of rain and snow. California is not prepared for such abundance and sadly will experience widespread and disastrous flooding. Since this cycle of drought and historic precipitation is likely to continue, it is imperative that we develop means of storing all of the rain and snow melt possible when it’s available to us. Recharging aquifers, restoring our watersheds, raising the height of existing dams, and better managing our existing reservoirs are but a few of the many things California can do to turn devastating floods into usable water for cities, fish, and agriculture. Today’s field hearing in Fresno included discussion of two bills designed to address improved water management and the need for additional types of water storage. I thank the members and witnesses that came today for their participation in this important and vital discussion." – Subcommittee on Water Wildlife and Fisheries Chairman Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.)
"The devastating flooding impacting the Central Valley right now emphasizes the urgent need to be proactive about fixing our water storage and infrastructure issues so that we are better prepared for these kinds of weather events, and resilient to periods of drought. If we don’t take action to fix the complex and contradictory laws and regulations that control how much we’re able to pump, and what storage projects we’re able to move forward, our ability to feed the nation will be in jeopardy. Thank you to Chairman Westerman for bringing the Natural Resources Committee to the Central Valley to hear firsthand about some of our area’s water problems and how the WATER for California Act could address some of these challenges. I also want to thank Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Bentz for his continued leadership on this important issue." – U.S. Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.)
"Droughts are an act of God; water shortages are the result of bad policy. This year we’ve had historic amounts of rainfall and snowpack, yet we’re most likely looking down the barrel of a water shortage this summer. Why? Because far-left environmentalists in the Sacramento and DC want to keep us from building the infrastructure to retain our water. Both the FISH Act and WATER for California Act create common-sense solutions to the water shortage problems facing California. These pieces of legislation provide regulatory clarity to our farmers and small businesses, streamlines the permitting process, and expands our water storage infrastructure. I am thankful for my colleagues for making the trip out West to see the impacts of these decisions firsthand and look forward to delivering common-sense solutions to Valley families." – U.S. Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.)
Members spent the day in the Fresno County, Calif. area where they toured Friant Dam and a local dairy farm before holding the field hearing in Tulare County, Calif.
H.R. 215, the "WATER for California Act," contains commonsense solutions for increasing water storage capacity and streamline federal processes involved.
H.R. 872, the "FISH Act," streamlines management of certain species of fish, eliminating unnecessary duplicative regulation.To learn more, click here.
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