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Congressman Valadao Reintroduces Sweeping California Water Legislation

Congressman David G. Valadao (CA-22) reintroduced his sweeping California water legislation – the Working to Advance Tangible and Effective Reforms (WATER) for California Act. This bill focuses on streamlining operations, expanding water storage infrastructure, and increasing accountability. This is Congressman Valadao’s first legislative action of the 118th Congress, reaffirming his commitment to bring more water to the Central Valley.
This week, Congressman David G. Valadao (CA-22) reintroduced his sweeping California water legislation – the Working to Advance Tangible and Effective Reforms (WATER) for California Act. This bill focuses on streamlining operations, expanding water storage infrastructure, and increasing accountability. This is Congressman Valadao’s first legislative action of the 118th Congress, reaffirming his commitment to bring more water to the Central Valley.  

The extreme storms, rainfall, and flooding impacting California right now highlight the importance of increasing water storage to capture this rainfall. The WATER for California Act expands water storage infrastructure so that we are better prepared for future storms and can make use of this water during dry years.

“The Central Valley has suffered from drought conditions, unfair water allocations, and a gross mismanagement of the water we do have by Sacramento bureaucrats and radical environmentalists for years,” said Rep. Valadao. “The WATER for California Act will bring more water to the farmers, businesses, and rural communities in the Valley and throughout California doing everything possible to survive these man-made water shortages. It also ensures transparency and holds this administration accountable over their attempts to reverse the 2019 Biological Opinions, which has caused Valley farmers great uncertainty about the future of their water supply. The storms impacting our state right now highlight just how important increasing water storage is so that our communities are better prepared for dry years. I promised my constituents that I would fight to secure a reliable and clean supply of water for our communities, and my first bill of the 118th Congress would do just that. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this critical legislation.”

“For over a decade, Congressman Valadao has been a champion in advancing drought and water policies, fighting to ensure that families and agricultural producers in the Central Valley have affordable and reliable access to water. I applaud his tireless efforts, and am proud to join him as a co-sponsor of the WATER for California Act. Now that Republicans are in the majority, we will deliver commonsense solutions out of the House to the residents of Kern, Fresno, Kings, and Tulare Counties and the American people,” said Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy.

“Droughts are nature’s fault; water shortages are our fault. Environmental extremists and overzealous bureaucrats have used the law to block water storage projects for years, resulting in an era of unnecessary self-imposed water shortages that have devastated entire communities,” said Rep. McClintock. “This legislation provides a common-sense approach to restoring abundance and delivery as principal objectives of federal water policy. It’s simple: More water is better than less water.”

“I am proud to stand with Congressman David Valadao in this effort towards water abundance to all Californians,” said Rep. Duarte. “This act brings common sense and sound science to CA water policy.  We will always work towards pro affordability, pro environment, and pro human resource policies.”

“When you’re told to take a shorter shower as water flows abundantly into the ocean, it’s a sign our current policies are failing. Californians continue to suffer through rationing regimes, higher utility bills, and fallow fields — but it doesn’t have to be this way. I am proud to co-sponsor Rep. Valadao’s WATER for California Act, which would put us on the path to a sustainable water supply by expanding California’s storage capacity, promoting transparency on existing water projects, and identifying other infrastructure projects to alleviate shortages,” said Rep. Kiley.

“The WATER for CA Act puts into place the policies and projects necessary to ensure California has a reliable water supply. As everyone can see, despite a prolonged drought, rain does eventually come to our state. What’s critical is for California to capture and store the water when it does fall and be able to deliver it during our dry periods. The WATER for CA Act will help make that commonsense strategy a reality,” said Rep. Calvert.

“No element of California has been more mismanaged or misused than our precious water resources. Because of this, our people have endured decades of more costs, less supply, insufficient storage, and fallow farms that were once the richest agricultural land in the world,” said Rep. Issa. “Rep. Valadao’s WATER Act for California can change all that by making infrastructure, stability, and accountability the hallmarks of our water policy going forward. It has my full support.”

“Sacramento and Washington D.C. have disastrously mismanaged California’s water supply, hurting our farmers, rural towns, and needlessly depleting the water levels in reservoirs we rely on. This legislation will provide much-needed relief from environmentalist Democrats’ man-made drought policies by expanding funding for building water storage and fixing our water policy so over 50% isn’t wasted into the ocean unused. I will continuing to work with my California colleagues to prioritize water use for the wellbeing of all Californians,” said Rep. LaMalfa.

“Year after year, water shortages have plagued California communities due to poor management and regulation. Drought is a natural phenomenon, but California’s water challenges are man-made,” said Rep. Steel. I am proud to partner with Rep. Valadao to bring common sense back to California’s water management and ensure abundant water access for every Californian.”

“Delivering better water management and accessibility to my district and state is a top priority. That is why I once again joined with fellow members of the California congressional delegation to deliver improved access to water for all Californians. The WATER for California Act provides funding for water storage projects across the state, and limits the damages that Governor Newsom and federal bureaucrats can inflict. Far too many Californians struggle with water shortages, including tens-of-thousands in my district alone,” said Rep. Garcia. 

“Water is essential for the public health and safety of our communities. Unfortunately, burdensome regulations and mismanagement are worsening drought-inflicted water shortages that hurt our workers, families and food supply chain,” said Rep. Kim. “I’m proud to join my California colleagues to introduce the WATER for California Act to reduce regulatory burdens hindering water access, and I thank Rep. Valadao for his tireless work on this. I’ll do all I can to provide certainty and secure water for Californians.”

“California’s critical lack of water storage has left us unable to capitalize on wet periods and facing a devastating drought that is impacting everything from the stability of our small rural communities to our national food supplies,” said Rep. Obernolte. “I am proud to again cosponsor Rep. Valadao’s WATER for California Act to help address our water crisis and ensure reliable access to water for our communities now and into the future.”

Congressman Valadao was joined in introduction by the entire California Republican delegation, including Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (CA-20), Reps. Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Kevin Kiley (CA-03), Tom McClintock (CA-05), John Duarte (CA-13), Jay Obernolte (CA-23), Mike Garcia (CA-27), Young Kim (CA-40), Ken Calvert (CA-41), Michelle Steel (CA-45), and Darrell Issa (CA-48). 


The comprehensive legislation promotes water conveyance through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, consistent with the Endangered Species Act, and advances key surface water infrastructure projects. Among other provisions, the WATER for California Act:

  • Requires the Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP) be operated consistent with the 2019 regulations, which were independently peer-reviewed and informed by the most accurate, best available science, but allows modification under certain circumstances.
    • Why it matters: The 2019 Biological Opinions (BiOps) and Preferred Alternative inform corresponding long-term operations plans for the CVP and SWP. The Biden administration’s misguided attempt to reverse the 2019 BiOps has caused significant uncertainty for Valley farmers about their water supply.
  • Helps to ensure CVP and SWP water stakeholders receive the water they contract and pay for.
    • Why it matters: For the past two years, South-of-Delta agricultural repayment and water service contractors have received zero percent of their allocation from the CVP. This has resulted in extreme water loss for both agricultural producers and rural communities.
  • Provides eligibility for funding for the Shasta Enlargement Project.
    • Why it matters: The Shasta Enlargement Project is the most per acre/foot cost-effective water storage project in California, but the infrastructure bill explicitly excludes any of the $1.15B allocated for storage projects from going to the Shasta Project.
  • Reauthorizes the successful surface water storage project program and coordinated operations of the CVP and SWP established by the WIIN Act.
    • Why it matters: Water storage is critical to better preparing communities for drought conditions. The authorities under the WIIN Act that brought more water to the Valley expired in 2021, and this bill extends the storage project authorizations to 2028 and the operations provisions of the WIIN Act to 2033.

The full text of the bill can be found here.