H.R. 2442: Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program Expansion Act

H.R. 2442

Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program Expansion Act

Sponsor
Rep. George Miller

Date
October 15, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2442 under a rule on Thursday, October 15, 2009.  H.R. 2442 was introduced on January 26, 2009, by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources which reported the bill by unanimous consent on September 10, 2009.  The bill was defeated under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for passage on September 30, 2009, by a vote of 240-170.

 

Bill Summary

H.R. 2442 would authorize funding for the Department of the Interior to participate in the planning, design, and construction of six local water use facilities in California as follows: 

Ø  $1.8 million for the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District.

Ø  $1.1 million for the Dublin San Ramon Services District.

Ø  $6 million for the City of Petaluma.

Ø  $8 million for the City of Redwood City.

Ø  $8.2 million for the City of Palo Alto.

Ø  $7 million for the Ironhouse Sanitary District.

The bill would also expand the authorized spending level for two other water districts in California:

Ø  Increases funding for Antioch Recycled Water Project from $2.2 million to $3.1 million.

Ø  Increases funding for the South Bay Advanced Recycled Water Treatment Facility from $8.2 million to $13.2 million.

The bill prohibits the federal share of the cost from exceeding 25 percent of the total cost, and the Department would not be permitted to provide operations or maintenance costs for the facilities.

 

Background

The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) was created in 1902 to construct dams and powerplants in the west.  The Bureau is now the largest wholesaler of water in the nation and operates in 17 western States.   According to the Bureau, California's water shortage has continually worsened over the past three years.   BOR recently stated that, "The State is in its third year of a severe drought, caused by below average precipitation and significantly lower run-off into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta.  As a result, one-third less water is available to the 25 million Californians who depend on the Bay Delta for their drinking water and for the farms in the Central Valley that produce half of the nation's fruits and vegetables." 

At this time of severe drought, while localities in the San Francisco Bay area are seeking federal money for local water needs, Democrats have continued to block legislation to allow desperately need water to flow to the San Joaquin Valley.  The San Joaquin Valley is home to numerous farm communities that are suffering from high levels of unemployment because they have been blocked from accessing water in the name of protecting the habitat of the Delta smelt, a three inch fish.  Because of a "biological opinion" issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, massive amounts of have been cut off from the San Joaquin Valley, which has contributed to a devastating economic collapse in the areas farming communities.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the jobless rate in the inland areas affected by the reductions is 14.3 percent compared to the State-wide rate of 11.6 percent.  In the community of Mendota alone, the unemployment rate is nearing 40 percent and a recent study by the University of California-Davis found that 500,000 acres will be fallowed this year because of water restrictions.

In order to address this immediate problem and relieve the small farmers in California, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) introduced H.R. 3105, the Turn on the Pumps Act, which would overrule Fish and Wildlife's biological opinion and allow water to flow again at no cost to taxpayers.  Despite bipartisan support for the bill, Democrat leadership has refused to consider the legislation.  In the meantime, the Democrats scheduled H.R. 2442 to spend millions in federal money on local water projects in San Francisco Bay area, which does not depend on agricultural irrigation to support its prime industry.  Some Members were concerned that the legislation provided federal funding for local water development in the Bay area, while the Democrats refuse to turn on the water pumps for distressed families, farmers, and businesses in the San Joaquin Valley.   In light of these events, H.R. 2442 was defeated under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority for passage on September 30, 2009, by a vote of 240-170.

 

 

Cost

According to CBO, H.R. 2442 would cost $38 million over the FY 2010-2014 for local water projects in the San Francisco Bay area.