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.
January brought above-average rainfall and snow to much of California, partly due to El Niño. But forecasters say the ocean warming condition is "taking a break" for the next week or longer.
The U.S. Drought Monitor says, other than a slight reduction in exceptional drought in the northern Sierra, it needs more time to assess impacts of the recent moisture on California's long-term drought.
California regulators have made modest adjustments to water conservation requirements for cities.
The second measurement this winter of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was 130 percent of average. State water officials say the snowpack will help reservoir recovery.
California's water conservation rate dropped to 18 percent in December. But water regulators say the state continues to meet its long term goals.