July 16, 2015

Water Starved West Pins Hopes on Western Water Bill

Today, the House of Representatives passed the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, which provides tangible benefits for drought-stricken parts of the western United States. The bill seeks to expedite water storage projects by shortening the time it takes for environmental reviews to be conducted.

Western Growers president and CEO Tom Nassif issued a statement today commending the House on its action and urged western senators to engage on behalf of their states and to build support for the bill among their colleagues from other states.

For California, the bill requires the federal agencies controlling the pumps to operate within the upper end of their discretion without circumventing the Endangered Species Act or related biological opinions. This will allow more water to flow south of the Delta while continuing to protect the smelt and salmon populations.

Now that the bill has passed the House, the Senate must work to put together a companion piece of legislation that can advance through both chambers of Congress. With multiple states throughout the west experiencing the devastating effects of the drought, our hope is that the Senate will move forward quickly and pass a bill. And while there is likely to be differences between the two bills, we expect our congressional leadership and water champions to step up and produce final legislation that addresses both human and environmental concerns. With Congress’ annual summer recess beginning in August, we don’t expect immediate action. However, we believe that Senate action will be taken before the end of October.

For more information, contact Dennis Nuxoll at (202) 296-0191.