The Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act would allow more water to be pumped out of the Delta and sent to farms. Critics say it favors farms over fish and environmental concerns.
The bill was co-sponsored by every California House Republican, including Tom McClintock whose fourth district includes El Dorado, Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties.
"Well, it simply restores the Bay-Delta Accord which was a bipartisan agreement back in the 1990s that promised allocations to various groups," said McClintock on Insight with Beth Ruyak. "The water diversions for the Delta smelt absolutely shattered that promise. This bill simply redeems it and restores the Bay Delta Accord."
But Democrats are staunchly opposed; including John Garamendi whose third district includes parts of Sacramento, Yolo and Solano counties.
"It's not fish versus people, it's really the federal government taking over and telling California what it's going to do with its law," says Garamendi. "It is unprecedented. It really sets off a major water war, unnecessary at a time of great crisis in California.
The bill heads next to the Democratically controlled U.S. Senate where it's expected to die.
More Federal Drought Aid On The Way
On Wednesday, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor announced up to $14 million for growers and water districts to conserve water and improve water management.
“We have an all hands on deck approach in recognition of the many impacts that are happening in California, and this is probably the start of a whole series of announcements and actions,” Connor said at a multi-agency news conference in Sacramento.
Also Wednesday, the California Fish and Wildlife Commission approved fishing bans on the American and Russian rivers. They’re intended to protect threatened salmon and steelhead trout. Bans are already in place for dozens of streams and rivers on California’s central coast.
Last week, the State Water Project announced contractors would not receive any water this year unless conditions significantly improve. Connor says the federal Central Valley Project will announce its allocation in a couple of weeks.
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.