A WIIN for Drought-Stricken Communities, Fish and Taxpayers

December 7, 2016 - After years of public input, congressional deliberation and bipartisan negotiations, tomorrow Congress will advance targeted drought relief for suffering communities in California and the West. The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) will expedite water storage, improve water delivery and, critically, increase water capture in upcoming wet months while upholding environmental laws.  
WIIN's passage will be a win for people, fish and wildlife. In fact, it's a no-brainer. But don’t just take our word for it.
"The language improves dramatically the flexibility to federal and state agencies to operate the water projects in order to maximize the water available to urban and rural water agencies, while at the same time protecting listed fish species." (Letter of Support from California water authorities, 12/5/16)
The language brings water to suffering communities and support to critical storage projects "while also providing resources for Democratic drought priorities like conservation, efficiency and recycling efforts." (The Hill, 12/5/16)
The bill "will help operate the water system more efficiently, pumping water when fish are not nearby and reducing pumping when they are close…" (Agri-Pulse, 12/5/16)
"The bill contains some long-term provisions to aid the salmon and smelt recovery, including $15 million that would be used in part to improve spawning habitat on the Sacramento River…" (Agri-Pulse, 12/5/16)
"[T]he drought provisions now included in the WIIN Act safeguard existing water rights and take important steps toward improving the distribution of water to wildlife refuges in the Central Valley." (Ducks Unlimited Letter of Support, 12/6/16).
The provisions that were "circulated publicly, received significant public input and about which the administration testified in a public hearing that it complied with environmental law." (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/6/16)
"Feinstein […] has been negotiating with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy for years on the issue…" (Politico Pro, 12/5/16)
"'[I]t will help California and it has bipartisan support including Republicans and Democrats in the House, and that’s why I’m supporting it,' [Senator Feinstein] said…" (The Hill, 12/5/16)
"The White House […] came short of issuing a veto threat…" (Washington Examiner, 12/6/16)
"[T]he bipartisan provision — which was worked out with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) — would likely provide the state authorities it needs to continue to collect and pump water..." (E&E News, 12/5/16)
As a result, “[a]gencies could increase pumping during winter storms so long as they do not violate the environmental requirements…" (Agri-Pulse, 12/5/16)
"'If Congress had failed to act, the state ran the risk of losing the ability to deliver water to areas that have suffered socially and economically as a result of water supply shortages and to replenish reservoirs and groundwater levels..'" (Agri-Pulse, 12/5/16)
"Farmers in California's drought-stricken Central Valley could get additional irrigation water in coming years under bipartisan provisions included in a congressional agreement to reauthorize water projects." (Agri-Pulse, 12/5/16)
"Generally seen as an ally of Central Valley agriculture on water matters, Feinstein said she had consulted with state and federal agencies to ensure the proposal would comply with environmental laws and fish protections." (Los Angeles Times, 12/5/16)
"Nothing in this bill violates the Endangered Species Act or biological opinions [...]. prohibits federal agencies from taking any action that violates environmental law." (Dianne Feinstein, 12/6/16)
Specific language in the bill was included "to ensure that federal water officials must still abide by laws including the Endangered Species Act, as well as the biological opinions that guide protections for certain species." (Sacramento Bee, 12/5/16)
"Nonetheless, Boxer said she and Feinstein had a 'big disagreement.'" (Sacramento Bee, 12/5/16)

water, Drought, agriculture

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