SACRAMENTO, CA (KMJ) – A bill that could help provide safe drinking water passes its first legislative test.
Rep. TJ Cox, (D-Fresno), unveiled the $100 million proposal Disadvantaged Community Drinking Water Assistance Act, in December 2019.
In a press release sent Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, Cox said the proposal would make improvements in small towns with contaminated drinking water.
“We provide the world with fruit and vegetables, but if we can’t provide the key ingredient of life for our own people, then I think we’ve really failed the most basic test of governance,” said Cox.
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, the Committee on Natural Resources voted to pass on the bill to a full House vote, the first big step in a legislative process that Cox hopes to see end with the bill being signed into law.
Rep. Cox introduced the Western Water Storage Infrastructure Act to provide additional funding for surface storage, groundwater storage, and the supporting conveyance facilities.
Cox said the bill is needed to reauthorize more water storage funding now that WIIN Act storage funds have been capped out:
“This has been a transformative session for Central Valley water. My new water storage bill, the third water bill I’ve introduced this Congress, is going to tackle one of the trickiest parts of fixing our supply crisis,” said Rep. Cox. “By investing $800 million in badly needed projects over the next 5 years, we can finally get on track to long-term supply stability, through wet and dry years.”
Rep. Cox introduced HR 5316 the Move Water Now Act, which funds repairs on the Friant-Kern Canal, and said the two bills will contribute the necessary resources to perform vital repairs to the San Joaquin Valley’s main water conveyance facilities.
“Solving Valley water issues is a top priority of mine. I’m happy that my Move Water Now bill, that would provide $200 million for Friant Kern repairs, was recently passed by the House Natural Resources Committee. I’ll work with anyone on issues that concern our Valley and I look forward to Congressman McCarthy’s support for my bill and for the president to sign it into law,” said Cox.
This legislation is cosponsored by Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Reps. Jim Costa (CA-16), Josh Harder (CA-10), and John Garamendi (CA-03). The bill is also endorsed by the Friant Water Authority, the South Valley Water Association, and the California Farm Bureau Federation.
“Land subsidence has literally strangled most of the flow of water through the Friant-Kern Canal,” said Rep. Cox “Because of this, communities aren’t getting the water they pay for and farms aren’t getting the water they need to feed the world. In May, I brought Chairman Raúl Grijalva to the Central Valley to see the devastating impact of subsidence on the canal. After that trip, in July, I brought in Valley stakeholders for a hearing in my Oversight and Investigations subcommittee and they also highlighted the tough choices faced as a result of the Friant-Kern Canal’s disrepair. This bill is our promise to tackle this problem and get the canal up to its former conveyance capacity.”
Water issues in the Valley will be at the forefront of many discussions during a week of activities beginning Feb 17th.
KMJ’s Ray Appleton will have Representative Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) appear on his show Monday, Feb. 17, 2020 to discuss water issues.
On Tuesday, Feb.18, 2020, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt will be participating in a water forum with Rep. Nunes in Tulare.
On Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 President Trump is slated to visit Bakersfield with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and discuss water issues with Valley farmers.
Click to listen to the report by KMJ’s Liz Kern: