Western Growers Issues Statement on Drought Resiliency and Water Supply Infrastructure Act
IRVINE, CA - Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif expressed his gratitude and announced a statement about the Drought Resiliency and Water Supply Infrastructure Act.
“We thank Senators Dianne Feinstein, Cory Gardner, Martha McSally, and Kyrsten Sinema for their bipartisan leadership in addressing water supply and drought resiliency needs throughout the country, in particular in the West,” Nassif said.
According to a press release, Nassif added that there is little argument that the existing water infrastructure in the West is aging and in need of rehabilitation and improvement. Senator Feinstein also commented on the importance of this bill.
“The effects of climate change are here to stay, and one enormous effect on the West is more—and more severe—droughts,” said Senator Feinstein in a statement. “As California continues to recover from a historic drought, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory now estimates that the Sierra snowpack, a primary source of water for California, will decrease by 79 percent by the end of the century. If we fail to prepare for this contingency, life in California will be forever altered. Longer and more severe droughts will change the face of our state, undermine our economy, result in more wildfires, devastate our agriculture sector, and require draconian water restrictions. To counter this, we must act now, and this bill will help toward that goal.”
Alex Teague, Chief Operating Officer of Limoneira, also noted his support for the legislation.
“We support all water legislation that helps solve the ongoing problem,” said Teague. “We hope that aside from the money set aside, they will attach language that also helps expedite implementation.”
Ian LeMay, President of the California Fresh Fruit Association also commended the Senator's work on this issue.
“We thank Senator Feinstein and her Senate colleagues for their continued efforts to address the Western United States and California’s water needs," he stated. "There is no easy fix but the funding identified in the proposed legislation is needed to both repair and modernize our water infrastructure.”
Nassif stated that it is vital to meet the current and future demands on our water resources.
“We must continue to invest in a diverse portfolio of water management tools, including conservation, recycling, desalination, conveyance, surface and groundwater storage,” Nassif said. “This bill tackles these issues in a manner that is both environmentally sensitive and fiscally responsible, and will provide substantial benefits for all of the Western states. We encourage the Senate to move quickly on this commonsense and proactive piece of legislation.”
Key provisions, according to Feinstein's statement, embrace extending funding under the WIIN Act for an additional five years, including:
- $670 million for surface and groundwater storage projects, and supporting conveyance.
- $100 million for water recycling projects.
- $60 million for desalination projects.
- Creates a new loan program for water agencies at 30-year Treasury rates (currently about 2.6 percent) to spur investment in new water supply projects. Repayment can be deferred until five years after completion of the project.
- Authorizes $140 million for habitat restoration and environmental compliance projects, including forest, meadow and watershed restoration and projects that benefit threatened and endangered species.
The legislation includes two offsets:
- Extends existing WIIN Act provisions allowing water districts to prepay their outstanding capital debts and convert to indefinite length water supply contracts to bring in additional revenue within the next 10 years.
- Creates a process to deauthorize inactive water recycling project authorizations.
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