Matsui Floor Remarks in Opposition to House Republican Water Bill

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Washington, DC, July 13, 2017 | comments
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 7/12/2017 Contact: Lauren Dart 202-225-7163

Matsui Floor Remarks in Opposition to House Republican Water Bill

Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) delivered the following remarks on the House floor during consideration of H.R. 23, the so-called ‘Gaining Responsibility on Water Act’: I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 23. Yet again, it seems that instead of addressing the issues underlying California’s water supply, some of my colleagues are more interested in fanning the flames of century-old water disputes. The City of Sacramento, which I represent, sits at the confluence of two major rivers, the Sacramento and the American. Because there is no such thing as an average water year in California, living under the threat of drought and flood has become a way of life for Sacramento residents. We are working with the Army Corps to invest billions of dollars in flood protection. And we are collaborating with the Bureau of Reclamation to build a groundwater bank and a water recycling facility to increase access to drinking water. Congress should explore real solutions to drought challenges, as the Sacramento region is doing. In the short term, we must be efficient about fixing leaks and waste, while also continuing conservation efforts. In the long term, we should be taking advantage of new technologies to monitor our water use, and making investments in wastewater recycling and above- and below-ground water storage. Last Congress, I introduced a commonsense bill that removed barriers for wastewater recycling projects, making it possible for them to move forward more quickly and efficiently with Federal support. It ultimately became law. Yet, instead of debating these types of solutions, we’re wasting time on a bill that does not solve our underlying water supply problem. I grew up on a farm in the Central Valley. My father was a farmer, my uncle was a farmer, and my grandfather was a farmer. We raised peaches, plums, nectarines, and grapes. I recall living and understanding what water meant to us, so I do understand the value and sensitives about water. In the Sacramento region where I represent, we have tried to take a balanced approach, working to protect the environment while providing water for our farms and our cities. It is misleading to claim that H.R. 23 will solve our drought problems. This legislation only prioritizes certain regions or industries, instead of taking the comprehensive approach we need. And, by giving the Federal government power to dictate the best uses of the State’s water, H.R. 23 sets a disastrous precedent for other states across the country that should raise alarm on both sides of the aisle. The bill we are discussing today undermines states’ autonomy. Ultimately, I’m concerned that this bill will weaken environmental protections for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and harm our State’s ability to manage its own water. That’s why I join my district and the State of California in strongly opposing this bill. We cannot afford to give up California's right to control its own water future and we must focus on an all-of-the-above strategy that puts us on the path to a sustainable water supply, while protecting our environment. I strongly urge my colleagues to reject this legislation.

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