Dems Launch Water Bill for Drought-Stricken California


     (CN) – Congressional Democrats from California reintroduced legislation on Tuesday designed to help the state move toward a more sustainable water future following its driest year in recorded history.
     The Water in the 21st Century Act, introduced by Representatives Lois Capps, Grace Napolitano, John Garamendi, and 13 of their Democratic colleagues, would provide communities with incentives and investments for water conservation and efficiency and establish an open water data system.
     The bill would also build on other Congressional efforts to provide drought-stricken communities with more long-term solutions.
     “California’s historic drought has demonstrated the need for expanded science-driven water conservation, recycling and storage initiatives found in this bill and in the overwhelmingly passed Proposition 1,” Garamendi said. “Both provide solutions that work for all 58 counties in California. By investing in smart water policies, the Water in the 21st Century Act would help create millions of acre feet of new water, ensure a reliable water supply and create good jobs.”
     California voters passed Proposition 1 – the Water Bond – in November. It authorizes $7.12 billion in general obligation bonds for state water supply infrastructure projects such as public water system improvements, surface and groundwater storage, drinking water protection, water recycling and advanced water treatment technology.
     The Water in the 21st Century Act would create both a secured loan program and grants for water recycling, groundwater management, integrated regional water management, and water infrastructure projects. It would also improve water supply operations at dams managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, and improve drought resilience and coordination at Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Department of Interior.
     In addition, the bill would help California communities take steps to become better prepared for drought.
     “There are no easy solutions,” Capps said. “But the Water in the 21st Century Act would be a strong step forward by providing critical support for improved water efficiency, conservation, and water recycling projects in our local communities.”
     Capps unsuccessfully cosponsored the same bill in the 113th Congress.
     On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer also reintroduced the Senate companion to the bill.
     In December, a Republican-sponsored water bill made it through the House of Representatives, but was sunk in the then-Democrat-controlled Senate.
     That measure called for increases in irrigation water exports to farmers and other users south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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