Somach Simmons and Dunn, Attorneys at Law Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

February 18, 2014  |  Written by Brittany Lewis-Roberts

Proposed Federal Legislation Attempts to Address Drought, Lake Tahoe Restoration

As California’s water problems draw national attention, the State’s representatives in Washington, D.C. continue to offer federal legislative responses.

As an alternative to the “Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act” that passed the House of Representatives earlier this month, Senators Feinstein and Boxer proposed a new bill on February 11, 2014.  The Senate legislation, entitled the “California Emergency Drought Relief Fund of 2014,” was referred to committee for further action.  The Senate bill proposes the following measures to address the drought:

  • Directs the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Secretary of Interior to approve any project or operation to provide additional water supplies, unless the project or operations are “highly inefficient”;
  • Mandates that the Delta Cross Channel Gates remain open “to the greatest extent possible”;
  • Maintains water supplies held in San Luis and Millerton Reservoirs rescheduled for delivery in the next water contract year, unless precluded by reservoir capacity limitations;
  • Adopts a 1:1 inflow to export ratio for the increased flow of the San Joaquin River resulting from voluntary water transfers and exchanges;
  • Enacts 30-day deadlines for agency and environmental review for certain permit decisions;
  • Prioritizes drinking water projects funded by state and federal revolving loan programs that will provide water supplies most expeditiously to areas with inadequate supply; and
  • Provides drought relief funds to be made available through the Emergency Conservation Program and Emergency Watershed Protection Program under the Department of Agriculture, Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants, Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants, and other grants for institutions serving farm workers and wildfire control.

Separate from the current discussion on the drought, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act and reported the legislation to the full Senate for consideration.  Originally introduced in 2013, the legislation, if enacted, would provide more than $400 million in funding over ten years for stormwater management, watershed restoration, fire reduction and forest management, and invasive species management projects.

The drought legislation introduced in the Senate is available here.

The proposed Lake Tahoe Restoration Act is available here.

For more information on the proposed federal legislation, please contact Brittany Lewis-Roberts at (916) 446-7979, or blewis-roberts@somachlaw.com.

Somach Simmons & Dunn provides the information in its Environmental Law & Policy Alerts and on its website for informational purposes only.  This general information is not a substitute for legal advice, and users should consult with legal counsel for specific advice.  In addition, using this information or sending electronic mail to Somach Simmons & Dunn or its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship with Somach Simmons & Dunn.