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Public Statements

Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HERGER. Mr. Chairman, I originally voiced strong concerns when this legislation was first introduced last year, arguing that it would negatively impact northern California's water supplies and undermine our senior water rights; but under Chairman Hastings' leadership, it has come a very, very long way.

We have amended the bill so it not only protects northern California water and power users I represent, but in many respects puts them in a materially better position. As such, I intend to strongly support it. It contains important reforms to the CVPIA, a law that has, like so many others, gone awry, including greater certainty for agriculture through longer-term contracts, improved financial accountability, and a cap on the amount ratepayers I represent must pay into the restoration fund.

Most importantly, a new title 4 contains an explicit Federal recognition of California water rights priority system and area of origin protections. Going forward, it will also ensure water users in our area are not harmed by efforts to address environmental and water-quality challenges in California. We have created an important baseline for any water legislation to ensure northern California's water needs will be met first.

There is broad support for these provisions, including from the Tehama Colusa Canal Authority, representing 17 water districts; the Northern California Water Association; eight absolute priority settlement contractors; the city of Redding; Redding Electric Utility; and the Family Water Alliance, a group representing Sacramento Valley landowners.

In short, the bill seeks to solve another tragic ESA-caused water shortage facing our family farmers in California. And it does so while fully protecting senior water rights holders in my district, and in many ways enhancing their positions.

I urge strong support for the bill.

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