Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today applauded the inclusion of California water priorities in the federal funding bill for fiscal 2021 including Feinstein provisions to improve dam safety and establish an airborne snow observatory and measurement program within the Department of the Interior.
“Modernizing our water infrastructure is one of the most important investments we can make in California’s future,” Feinstein said. “We know climate change is real and that it’s having tangible effects now. We see it in wildfires every year, and we see it in the dry weather and droughts that plague us. We have to do more to save water from the wet years to use in the dry years, and this bill moves us toward that goal. It also makes critical investments in dam safety and climate change research, and I’m proud to support it.”
California-specific drought and environmental resilience funding
The bill provides more than $1 billion for Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure and drought resilience programs in California. Specifically it includes:
- An additional $332 million to fund California projects under the WIIN Act, including:
- $206 million for the Friant Kern Canal restoration, which completes the federal cost share for the canal’s Middle Reach, fully restoring a 60 percent loss in the canal’s conveyance capacity due to subsidence.
- $35 million for five water recycling projects in Los Angeles, Monterey, Soquel, Oceanside, and Palmdale.
- $18 million for two desalination projects in Camarillo and South Orange County.
- $40 million for habitat restoration and other environmental projects.
- $26 million for preconstruction and design work to expand the Sites Reservoir and Los Vaqueros Reservoir, two major off-stream surface storage projects with significant benefits for wildlife refuges and threatened and endangered fish species as well as water supply.
- $7 million for studies on other off-stream and groundwater storage and conveyance projects.
- $28 million for the San Joaquin River Restoration project.
Drought resilience programs benefiting the West:
- $55 million for WaterSMART grants and $63 million for the Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse program in addition to the water recycling funding mentioned above.
- $9.5 million for desalination research and development in addition o the desalination funding above.
- $8 million to fund repairs to critical Reclamation canals to help recharge aquifers and comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
Additional water infrastructure-related investments:
- $192.5 million for the Whittier Narrows dam safety project in Los Angeles County.
- $14 million to stand up the Corps’ new program to leverage up to $1 billion in low-interest loans for non-Federal dam safety projects throughout the country, potentially including several projects in California.
- $7.5 million to update Army Corps Flood Control manuals to help places like the Oroville Dam operate more safely and efficiently.
- $5 million to continue research and development on atmospheric rivers to improve reservoir water level forecasting abilities and operations.
- $50 million for donor and energy transfer ports, such as the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
- $12.5 million for a cutting-edge program to design nature-based resiliency projects and natural infrastructure options in drought, flood, and post-fire recovery areas in the west.
Priorities included as part of the Water Resources Development Act
- A Feinstein provision that makes the FEMA grant program for non-federal dam safety projects work better for dam owners and state dam safety agencies.
- A provision directing the Army Corps of Engineers to prepare a feasibility study on potential dam safety improvements to Oroville Dam.
- A total of 36 specific studies and project authorizations in California including:
- San Diego Shoreline expedited completion of erosion control where four people were tragically killed earlier this year due to bluff collapse.
- Cable Creek flood control and water supply study in San Bernardino County
- Salton Sea perimeter remediation study
Snowpack measurement program
The funding bill includes a provision drafted by Senator Feinstein, the Snow Water Supply Forecasting Program Authorization Act, to establish an airborne snow observatory and measurement program within the Department of the Interior. Without accurate readings, water managers could be forced to unnecessarily release water from reservoirs, reducing the water in storage that is needed to address potential drought. The funding bill includes $3 million for this program and authorizes another $15 million over the next five years.
“We need to be smarter in our approach to water management, and that starts with knowing exactly what’s out there,” Feinstein said. “By funding this snowpack measurement program, we’ll help boost our water conservation efforts, increase water supply and improve delivery forecasts across the West. I want to thank Representative Josh Harder for working with me to get this bill enacted.”