Representative Josh Harder, D-Turlock, was joined by Home Secretary Deb Haaland last week to discuss the drought and water conservation. Harder and Haaland both promised to find solutions to help the Central Valley navigate through the drought.
“The department recognizes the hardship the drought has caused all of our communities, including those in the Central Valley,” Haaland said. “And Interior is keen to work with you, MP Harder, and of course each and every one of your colleagues, to survive this water year and find a sustainable way forward.”
Harder emphasized the importance of developing short and long-term strategies to alleviate the current and future water crisis.
“That means we have to start building. California’s population has doubled in the past 50 years, but we haven’t built a single new water storage project. We need more. We need to make sure that we bring new investments into our water portfolio, ”said Harder.
Harder is pushing for a bipartisan infrastructure bill that could provide $ 8.3 billion for water storage in the West. The Home Office’s proposed 2022 budget is $ 15 million to build Del Puerto Reservoir in Patterson, which will be the Central Valley’s first major water infrastructure project in over 50 years.
“We have more than $ 8 billion for western water storage on this infrastructure project, with over $ 1 billion specifically for projects like Del Puerto, on top of the money we’ve already talked about,” Harder said. “That would be more of the money we’ve spent on water at the federal level since the Hoover Dam. It is actually five times more than we have spent in history. The investments our community needs are not just for this drought, but for everything that comes on the market. “
The Del Puerto Reservoir could be built by 2028, which would add 82,000 acres of storage capacity to the area. This could prove vital in dry years when the region receives little to no rain.
Haaland said she is working closely with state and federal agencies to identify projects needed to tackle California’s arid climate.
“I know how much climate change has affected our communities and continues to do so for extended fire seasons to intense drought and water scarcity, and I know how important Central Valley is to these discussions affects us all,” she said.
Harder pointed out that Stanislaus County already has a large water recycling system in place. Farmers in the Del Puerto Water District use wastewater from the Modesto, Ceres and Turlock sewage treatment plants.
“Of course, the best we can do is make better use of the water we already have,” said Harder.
The House of Representatives will vote on the infrastructure draft by September 27th at the latest.