The Republican-backed legislation would allow Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumps to continue to send water to the Central Valley as long as water is available.
Those pumps are sending minimal water to the valley now because of low reservoir levels and river flows, not environmental regulations that protect endangered fish.
The bill would also stop the restoration of the San Joaquin River until 2015.
Shawn Coburn of Firebaugh farms in three counties in the valley and uses water from two federal systems.
“It’s like closing the gate after the cow has gotten out, it’s a little bit late now, but anything is better than nothing,” says Coburn.
Environmentalists and several Democratic House members called the legislation a “water grab” and an attempt to throw out the Endangered Species Act.
“Sucking the Delta dry is not the answer to California’s water issues," said Democratic Congresswoman Doris Matsui in a statement. "We need long-term solutions that will benefit the entire state, and should be working together to solve California’s water problems through a balanced approach. This proposal is anything but balanced and will only create further discord.”
The legislation is backed by Congressmen Devin Nunes, Kevin McCarthy and David Valadao.
California has received less than 60 percent of the rain and snow this water year that it normally gets. Water managers are warning the new water year may be just as bad.
New motors, screens, and some casing repairs are in the works for eight of Sacramento's water wells. Some of the wells are more than 400-feet deep.
A long-range U.S. government forecast shows the drought in California will stick around.
The drought has farmers cutting back on watering, but some San Joaquin County growers say less water can mean a better crop.
The City of Sacramento Department of Utilities reports Friday that city water customers saved more than one-billion gallons of water last month.