House Energy and Water Development Bill Includes More Than $13 Million for Central Valley Water Projects

August 4, 2020 at 9:57 am

Los Vaqueros Reservoir, one of the three Central Valley projects to receive federal funding this year

Los Vaqueros Reservoir, one of the three Central Valley projects to receive federal funding this year

Image courtesy of the Contra Costa Water District

Last Friday, the House approved the yearly appropriations bill for the Energy and Water Development subcommittee, guaranteeing millions of federal dollars for three Central Valley reservoirs. The funding comes thanks to pressure from Representative Josh Harder (CA-10), who is facing a tight reelection in November and has made water rights a central tenet of his campaign. Rep. Harder was also responsible for securing financing for the Central Valley in last year’s Energy and Water Development bill.

The bill passed as part of a $1.3 trillion appropriations package known as H.R. 7617, which included funding for five other sectors and passed with a vote of 217 to 197. The Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir in Patterson will receive $1.5 million for feasibility studies to expand off-stream water storage. Los Vaqueros Reservoir will receive $7.84 million to expand its capacity from 160,000 acre-feet to 275,000 acre-feet. The bill also includes $4 million for the Sites Reservoir, which plans to capture runoff from streams below existing reservoirs in the Sacramento Valley. Sites Reservoir is scheduled to start construction in 2023.

Last year’s Energy and Water Development bill included virtually the same amount of funding ($13.7 million versus this year’s $13.34 million), although it was distributed differently. Del Puerto received the same ($1.5 million), Los Vaqueros received less ($2.1 million), and Sites received more ($6 million). $4.1 million went to the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program, which was not included in this year’s bill. Rep. Harder was also responsible for securing last year’s funding.

Del Puerto, Los Vaqueros, and Sites Reservoirs are among the projects headlined in Rep. Harder’s SAVE Water Resources Act, introduced back in 2019. The bipartisan-backed legislation includes federal incentives for private sector development of water projects and would reauthorize the Rural Water Supply Act, which improves rural access to safe drinking water. Rep. Harder has made the SAVE Act one of the principal facets of his reelection campaign against veterinarian Ted Howze. The race is one of the only eight California House races to be ranked competitive by the Cook Political Report.