Washington, DC – Following a markup of HR 1837, the so-called San Joaquin Water Reliability Act, in the House Natural Resources Committee, Congressman John Garamendi, a former Deputy Secretary of the Interior issued the following statement:
"HR 1837 turns upside down 150 years of California water law and the allocation of water. The bill removes all environmental protections for the Delta and Central Valley rivers while allowing destructive exports of water from the Delta to San Joaquin Valley water districts.
"However, one section of the bill, Title 4, has merit in that it affirms existing water rights and area of origin rights in Northern California. Unfortunately, this section was combined with too much bad policy for the bill to receive my support.
"The Committee refused to accept my amendment that would have authorized an expedited process to construct Sites Reservoir, a critical off-stream reservoir. Instead, a substitute amendment prohibits the Bureau of Reclamation from working with the Sites Project Joint Powers Authority, a regional consortium of local water agencies and counties united to develop the project.
"I will continue working with my colleagues at the federal, state, and local levels to craft a water policy that carries out the twin goals of California law, water reliability and ecosystem restoration."