Still Waiting for a Federal Response to the Drought: A Legislative Update

May 2016

California Water Law & Policy Reporter, Volume 26, Number 8

For a third year, U.S. Congressional leaders are attempting to formulate a response to California’s drought. Currently, two major drought-related bills are pending in the 114th Congress and each takes a very different approach to addressing drought-related impacts.

The first bill is House of Representatives Bill 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, introduced by representative David Valadao and co-sponsored by every Republican Representative from California and Democrat Jim Costa of the San Joaquin Valley (HR 2898). The second is Senate Bill 2533, introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein and entitled the California Long-Term Provisions for Water Supply and Short-Term Provisions for Emergency Drought Relief Act (S 2533).

Each bill seeks to increase water supply reliability, although through substantially different methods. Key points of difference include whether the scope of federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) should be reduced to allow for more pumping south of the Delta and whether funds should be used to increase water storage or encourage water use efficiency.

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