Today, the House of Representatives passed the conference report for S. 612, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) by a vote of 360 to 61. This legislation aims to advance water infrastructure throughout the country and includes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016.
Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) and caucus members Rep. David G. Valadao (CA-21) and Rep. Tom McClintock (CA-24) issued the following statements in response:
“Today, communities all across the West scored a major victory in the fight for commonsense water solutions. Critical provisions in this important legislation will increase water storage, facilitate outstanding tribal water settlements and advance water delivery for millions of Americans while still ensuring responsible environmental protections,” said Chairman Gosar. “I am proud that Western Caucus Members were instrumental in crafting this bill and I am grateful for leadership on both sides of the aisle that helped us reach this rational solution.”
“As we head into the winter rainy season, including these temporary provisions in S. 612, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, to strengthen California water infrastructure and increase water deliveries is both dire and extremely judicious,” said Rep. Valadao. “These provisions will not solve California’s water crisis, but they will provide interim relief, which my constituents desperately need. I am encouraged by today’s passage of the bill and look forward to working with the new Republican Administration and my colleagues in both the House and the Senate to reach a complete agreement.”
“WRDA is an important step forward in protecting California against devastating future droughts and protecting Lake Tahoe against catastrophic wildfires,” added Rep. Tom McClintock.
The text of the WIIN Act can be found HERE.
This legislation is primarily the biannual water resources infrastructure authorization package, however the conference report includes important natural resource and western water provisions.
TITLE II–WATER AND WASTE ACT OF 2016
Subtitle A – Safe Drinking Water
• Authorizes contaminated water cleanup for Flint, MI and other communities. Authorizes $170 million to be appropriated in the continuing resolution.
Subtitle C – Control of Coal Combustion Residuals
• Sec. 2301, authorizes state-based programs for control of coal combustion residuals (coal ash) with EPA approval.
TITLE III—NATURAL RESOURCES
Subtitle A—Indian Dam Safety
• Includes language from Chairman Barrasso’s Dam Repairs and Improvements for Tribes Act.
Subtitle B—Military Land Withdrawals
• Includes language from Chairman Barrasso’s IRRIGATE Act, which provides tribes the ability to improve, replace, and maintain tribal irrigation projects.
Subtitle C—Weber Basin Prepayments
• Includes language from Chairman Bishop’s standalone bill for the repayment of certain repayment obligations under contracts between the United States and the Weber Basin Water Conservancy.
Subtitle D—Pechanga Water Rights Settlement
• Includes language from Chairman Calvert’s standalone bill settling a long-standing dispute with the Pechanga tribe.
Subtitle F – Miscellaneous Provisions
• Includes several district-specific changes to Bureau of Reclamation activities, the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, tribal, and other water-related issues.
Subtitle G – Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement
• Includes language from both Rep. Zinke (H.R. 5633) and Senator Tester’s (S. 1125) Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act. This settles a longstanding water dispute between the Blackfeet Tribe and the United States, allowing for tribal management of water facilities and storage.
Subtitle H – Water Desalination
• Amends the Water Desalination Act of 1996 to consolidate and focus federal desalination research. This is part of the smaller western water compromise agreement.
Subtitle J – California and Western Water
• This language clears the way for increased pumping of water from California's Bay Delta region to agricultural regions and other areas hit by drought. It also allows water users to accelerate repayments of water projects and authorizes increased water storage throughout the West.
TITLE IV—OTHER MATTERS
• Sec. 5004. Gold King Mine Spill Recovery - Language allows for claims to be made from damages paid for by the EPA, as well as authorizing a water quality program.
The House Natural Resources Committee has also provided detailed summaries:
For Chairman Bishop’s release click HERE.
Summary of western water provisions click HERE.
Summary of all Natural Resources provisions click HERE.
Summary of the WIIN Act click HERE.