Senate OKs Central Valley water transfer measure
Oct. 16, 2009 - - The U.S. Senate has given final approval to the Energy and
Water Appropriations bill, which includes an amendment by California’s senators,
Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, which would allow for water transfers to
help agricultural communities in the Central Valley hard hit by three years of
drought. The legislation now goes to President Obama for his signature.
“This measure is a critical first step toward improving water management to help ease the water crisis in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Boxer. “The legislation will enable water transfers between the east and west sides of the valley, offering some much-needed relief to agricultural communities that are suffering from drought conditions.”
Feinstein added, “This spending bill includes a provision that will make it possible to transfer up to 50,000 to 80,000 acre-feet of surplus water from communities with water to spare to communities in desperate need.” The two senators are also promoting a bill that would grant permanent authority to the Bureau of Reclamation to approve and expedite additional water transfers of up 250,000 to 300,000 acre-feet per year throughout the valley.
The amendment by Boxer and Feinstein will facilitate voluntary water transfers among Central Valley Project contractors, providing the flexibility to deliver water to agricultural communities when they need it most.
The measure makes it easier to transfer water among south-of-Delta agricultural water service contractors within the San Joaquin Valley. Representatives Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) and Jim Costa (D-Fresno) included a similar amendment in the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill.
The Energy and Water Appropriations conference report approved Thursday also includes $41 million for the California Bay-Delta Restoration account. The senators say at least $10 million of this funding could be used to expedite water management projects such as the intertie between the Delta-Mendota Canal and the California Aqueduct, and “Two Gates,” the construction of two temporary gates in Old River and Connection Slough in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The funding was secured in the Senate by Feinstein, a member of the Appropriations Committee, with the support of Boxer.