Bipartisan Drought Legislation Introduced in D.C.

  • by Will Holbert
  • Jun 21, 2019
  • Water News

WASHINGTON — An ACWA-supported bill introduced June 20 in the U.S. Senate would build on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) 2016 drought legislation that was included in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, according to a Senate news release.

The bipartisan Drought Resiliency and Water Supply Infrastructure Act would improve the nation’s water supply and drought resiliency to protect against climate change impacts.

“ACWA applauds Senator Feinstein for her continued leadership on California water policy,” said ACWA Executive Director Dave Eggerton. “This comprehensive legislation provides critically important investments in water infrastructure at a time when the need is as great as it’s ever been with the challenges of adapting to climate change.”

In the news release, Feinstein cited research from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that estimates that the Sierra snowpack, a primary source of water for California, will decrease by 79% by the end of the century.

“The effects of climate change are here to stay, and one enormous effect on the West is more – and more severe – droughts,” Feinstein stated “If we fail to prepare for this contingency, life in California will be forever altered.”

A summary of the bill and links are below:

Key provisions:

Extends funding under the WIIN Act for an additional five years, including:

— $670 million for surface and groundwater storage projects, and supporting conveyance.

  • $100 million for water recycling projects.
  • $60 million for desalination projects.

— Creates a new loan program for water agencies at 30-year Treasury rates (currently about 2.6 percent) to spur       investment in new water supply projects. Repayment can be deferred until five years after completion of the project.

— Authorizes $140 million for habitat restoration and environmental compliance projects, including forest, meadow and watershed restoration and projects that benefit threatened and endangered species.

— The legislation includes two offsets:

  • Extends existing WIIN Act provisions allowing water districts to prepay their outstanding capital debts and convert to indefinite length water supply contracts to bring in additional revenue within the next 10 years.
  • Creates a process to deauthorize inactive water recycling project authorizations.

Links:

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