A growing number of communities across the West have become impacted by severe drought conditions. These conditions hurt our farmers, negatively impact the environment, and make it harder for communities to get the water they contract and pay for. Although this these challenges is are not new to the arid West, it is they are compounded by a complex and often contradictory system of laws, court decisions, and regulations, at the state and federal level, that are failing the needs of both people and species.
A significant source of water for our community comes from northern California, which is pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to central and southern California through two different conveyance systems, the Federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and the California State Water Project (SWP). To help ensure water reliability, the Federal government was able to implement a new plan in 2020 to move more water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to the Central Valley using provisions of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, a bipartisan law I championed that was enacted in 2016. In addition, I was able to secure $206 million to repair subsidence on the Friant-Kern Canal, which will help bring more water from Millerton Lake to the eastern side of the Central Valley and all the farmland in that region.
Water storage and developing more water infrastructure is also an important issue. Ensuring that our community has access to water—especially during times of extreme drought—is critical for our farmers and families. To help create dependable water sources, I was able to secure $134 million for water storage projects in California and the West. Additionally, in 2019, I led a bipartisan group of Members of Congress to support the State of California’s appeal to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to grant reimbursement funding for repairs at Oroville Dam, after a storm in February of 2017 damaged certain features to the structure. Following the appeal, FEMA awarded $307.8 million in reimbursement funding to California for the repair costs at Oroville Dam which would otherwise have been passed on to the families, farms, and businesses that receive water from the SWP. In addition, I have long advocated and pushed for important dam storage improvements locally at Isabella Dam at Lake Isabella and Schaefer Dam at Lake Success, securing hundreds of millions of dollars to make important safety repairs and enlargement additions so we can store more water locally.