Water Wins—Thanks to Congressman Harder

Harder Again Scores Millions in Federal Support for Local Water Storage Projects in House Funding Bill

 House Water Appropriations Bill Includes Funding for Del Puerto Canyon, Sites, Los Vaqueros

 

 After securing substantial support in last year’s funding package, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) announced that this year’s water development funding bill also includes millions in funding for water storage projects which benefit the Central Valley. The bill passed the House today on a vote of 217-197. Once the bill is signed into law, three projects will each receive over $1 million in funding this year – including Del Puerto Canyon, Sites, and Los Vaqueros Reservoirs. These projects are all specifically listed in Rep. Harder’s SAVE Water Resources Act and each received funding in last year’s package.

“Water is priority one for jobs and local farmers. Everyone around here knows that. For years, we were forgotten as federal funding dried up and Sacramento put more and more pressure on our water users,” said Rep. Harder. “That’s changed. Over the last two years, we’ve gotten over $20 million for local projects – including millions for the first new project in my district in 50 years.”

Josh Harder
Congressman Harder

Each of the storage projects listed below received the same amount of federal funding in last year’s appropriations bill. Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir will again receive over $1 million to complete feasibility studies and engage with the public on the project. Last year’s investment for Del Puerto Canyon was the first federal funding for a new water storage project in Rep. Harder’s Central Valley district in 50 years.

 

Storage Projects

 

Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir – Del Puerto Water District will receive another $1.5 million for the Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir. The project will expand off-stream water storage up to 85,000 acre-feet for DPWD, which is based in Patterson, CA, in Rep. Harder’s district. The funding will be used to complete feasibility studies.

Sites Reservoir – Four million dollars in new funding will go to the Sites Reservoir project thanks to Rep. Harder’s advocacy. Sites is an innovative and modern off-stream water storage project, helping the Valley better prepare for droughts while preserving the environment. This project will add over 1.8 million acre-feet of storage to the Northern Central Valley, on average, supplying water to over 1 million homes.

Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion – Rep. Harder worked to secure $7.84 million for this project, which currently stores up to 160,000 acre-feet of water. The expansion will add another 115,000 acre-feet of capacity. The project also provides water to wildlife areas south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

 

Airborne Snow Observatory Program

 

The Bureau of Reclamation has historically provided support for aerial assessments of snowpack across the West to provide accurate, real-time assessments of snowpack to plan for the coming year.

In December 2019, NASA concluded management of the Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO) program and transferred it to the private sector, reducing the certainty for federal support of a program with significant public benefits, including improved water conservation, supply and delivery forecasts across the West.

Given the broad bipartisan support of this program and the tremendous water benefits to Western states, Rep. Harder ensured the Bureau of Reclamation would continue supporting the program.

Last year’s House and final funding bills included additional support for the North Valley Regional Recycled Water program. Although it is not included in this year’s House version of the bill, Rep. Harder plans to fight to ensure it’s included in the final bill which will be signed into law.

 

UC Davis Researchers Point to Government as Culprit for Fallow Land

Government Policies—not Drought—Blamed for Fallow Land

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed”¹ water deliveries.

Not even drought can be blamed for land fallowing due to lack of water deliveries to Central Valley federal water users.

 

Jason Peltier, manager of the Federal water district, San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, said, a UC Davis study released this week, “Economic Analysis of the 2016 Drought For California Agriculture,” has confirmed that failed government water policiesnot a lack of rainfall and snow pack—are responsible for the widespread water shortages and the fallowing of more than 300,000 acres of land in the federal water districts on the Westside of Fresno and Kings Counties.

San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority

“It raises this question,” Peltier asked, “When do we get honest and start talking about the regulatory drought—the man-made drought, the policy-induced drought, the policy-directed drought? We can’t even have an honest conversation about that.”

 

 

“That our opponents want to deflect and obscure that whole conversation is telling,” he continued, “because we have a tremendous story of adverse economic impact as a result of failed policies. When they tried to protect the fish, they took our water away and they made the supply unreliable. ‘Just a huge failure and they don’t want to address it; they don’t want to deal with it. The same agencies are fixated with their false confidence or their false certainty, their false precision, in terms of how to help the fish.”

 

Peltier explained the regulators failed to deliver all of the 5% allocation [née water delivery reduced by 95%] to growers california drought fallow landin the federal water districts south of the Delta. “It’s nonsense,” he reiterated, that part of the insufficient 5% was never delivered this season. “It’s avoidance of the reality that the regulators have constricted the heck out of the water projects and made it so—even in wet years, and like this year, a normal to wet year—we’ve got huge amounts of land out of production,” Peltier said, adding that almond growers in the federal water districts are not getting a late, post-harvest irrigation, which can hurt next year’s production.


¹Inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City