Huffman: "Congress cannot make it rain, but what we can do is invest in drought-resistant water supplies through smart, sustainable investments in conservation and water reuse."
WASHINGTON--Today, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) offered an amendment to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 4923) to provide relief from the historic drought facing California and many other western states. Huffman's amendment would provide an additional $52 million for water-saving conservation, reuse and recycling infrastructure projects, offset by a reduction to the Department of Energy's Nuclear Energy account, which provides funding for research into non-military nuclear power plants. The amendment was defeated.
"The California drought is the most extreme drought that many of us have seen in our lifetime, and we either believe it's a national crisis and a national priority or we don't," Congressman Huffman said. "Congress cannot make it rain, but what we can do is invest in drought-resistant water supplies through smart, sustainable investments in conservation and water reuse."
Specifically, Huffman's amendment would direct $52 million to the Bureau of Reclamation for Title XVI water-saving conservation, reuse and recycling infrastructure projects, which support municipalities, farmers, fish and wildlife, and recreation. This amendment reflects one program funded by Congressman Huffman's drought bill, which he introduced in March. In June, nearly 80% of California was under extreme drought conditions, and 36% of the state was in an "exceptional" drought, the highest category on the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Huffman spoke on the House floor about his amendment, footage of which can be found HERE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnnWcmr1sEc&feature=youtu.be:
A transcript of Huffman's speech can be found below:
"Mr. Chairman, California and the rest of the west are facing a historic drought. Nearly 80% of California was under 'extreme' drought conditions in June -- and 36% of our state is in 'exceptional' drought, the highest category, in fact, on the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Emergency water conservation plans are being adopted across the state, including many mandatory measures. Cities and counties are dealing with uncertain water supplies, farmers and ranchers are facing incredibly difficult decisions, and tribes and those who depend on healthy fisheries and wildlife for their livelihood are facing shortages like they've never seen.
Congress cannot make it rain. What we can do is invest in drought-resistant water supplies through smart, sustainable investments in conservation and water reuse. That's what this amendment is all about.
My amendment directs $52 million to the Bureau of Reclamation for Title XVI water conservation and reuse projects. Through this program, Reclamation works across the west to support municipalities, farmers, fish and wildlife, and recreation through water-saving conservation, reuse and recycling infrastructure projects.
Although the Energy and Water bill before us today does fund the program, this drought is showing us that we have to do a lot more.
California's state water board is stepping up: they made an $800 million investment in water reuse projects earlier this year. But we on the federal side this urgent problem in California and other states.
This amendment is offset through a reduction to the Department of Energy's Nuclear Energy account. We have tough choices to make. I think we all understand that. Responding to this drought is a national priority and I urge my colleagues to support my amendment.
We either believe that this critical drought in California and other western states--the most extreme drought that many of us have seen in our lifetime--we either believe it's a national crisis and a national priority or we don't.
A few months ago House Republicans put forward a bill that represented itself as a response to this drought. Yet, it offered no immediate relief to the folks who are suffering in California. Instead what it did was hack away at environmental laws, try to do some violence to 100 years of deference to state policy on water rights, and otherwise pick winners and losers.
What this amendment offers, though, is something that can make an immediate difference. The water that we save through conservation, the water that we can save in the years ahead through water recycling, is some of the firmest, most reliable, most cost-effective water you can provide. It's one of the smartest investments you can make in a state like California. We need it to respond to this drought, and we need it to make our water supplies more reliable and resilient for future droughts, which we know are coming with more severity and more frequency.
I will close and urge my colleagues to vote yes on this important amendment, which does respond to the critical drought that's facing California and other western states."
Read this original document at: http://huffman.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/huffman-offers-amendment-to-provide-relief-from-record-california