Five questions crucial to future of California drought legislation

The House of Representatives’ passage Thursday of an ambitious and controversial California water bill now starts a round of maneuvering that will show whether a divided Congress can get its act together and legislate. There’s reason for skepticism. Start with the general gridlock and incessant partisanship that has earned Congress a 79 percent public disapproval rate. Add to this the inherent regional conflicts, historical baggage and technical complications that surround Western water, and the odds for legislative success sink further. Even judging the significance of federal water legislation invites some skepticism. As House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield noted Thursday, “We can’t make it rain.” The drought has its own, untouchable timetable. Some potentially big actions, like raising Shasta Dam or expanding San Luis Reservoir, would not help this year or even next. In some cases, a little fine-tuning might be the most that can be reasonably expected. <more>

July 17, 2015 McClatchy Newspapers