Lawmakers Consider Reforms to California’s Water Delivery Rules

Representatives from California and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy introduced H.R. 23 on January 4, 2017, to facilitate further drought relief for California farmers and water districts. Among other things, the bill aims to protect water rights, reduce costs of water delivery contracts, amend the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act, and preempt various State and Federal wildlife protections.

The proposed legislation is a product of California’s increasingly uncertain water supply. The state has endured a five-year drought, and it’s unclear if recent storms will break that trend. While rainfall has been above average this winter season, the snowpack still remains at only 70% of average as of January 3, 2017. California’s 2017 water supply outlook will largely depend on whether additional precipitation falls as snow rather than rain.