California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer along with Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, all Democrats, introduced the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014 today. The bill provides congressional direction to federal agencies responsible for implementing federal regulations affecting operations of the Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project (SWP). The legislation mandates that for the duration of the current drought emergency that these agencies act with a sense of urgency and be as flexible as the law allows in order to minimize water supply reductions resulting from the application of those regulations. If enacted, these changes would provide assistance to water users and our farmers who face critical shortages, and as such, Western Growers supports passage of this legislation in the Senate. Last week, the House of Representatives passed its own emergency drought bill.
Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers said, “The state of California is facing potentially devastating drought conditions and Western Grower members and other producers across the state welcome the introduction of California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014 by Senators Feinstein and Boxer. We hope that this bill will be promptly taken up and passed in the Senate so it can move quickly to a conference with the House bill passed last week. I believe if reasonable accommodation can be made between the two and merged into a single bill in a bipartisan effort, benefits can be realized by all California water users. As we await Congressional action, we urge the Obama Administration to act with all due speed and exercise all discretion to facilitate water flow and transfer for the remainder of the year as precipitation falls.”
In a press release, Senator Feinstein said, “This bill provides operational flexibility to increase water supplies and primes federal agencies to make the best use of any additional rain. With so little water available, we must focus on streamlining federal programs and provide what assistance we can to those farmers and communities being hit the hardest.”
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