Drought bills increase water storage

New legislation proposed by Fresno Congressman Jim Costa is aimed at increasing water storage around the state.
February 28, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
New legislation proposed by Fresno Congressman Jim Costa is aimed at increasing water storage around the state.

Congressman Costa identified three separate projects. San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos would expand under the plan. Storage would increase by 130,000 acre feet. Separate bills call for raising Shasta Dam in Northern California 18 feet, while $2.5 billion would go for a new dam at Temperance Flat.

"These three pieces of legislation will provide federal authorization and more importantly, funding which is different from legislation we voted on two weeks ago," said Costa.

Federal and state agencies would share costs. The Bureau of Reclamation says it would cost $360 million to raise the dam at San Luis Reservoir 20 feet. Right now the bureau is studying the dam's seismic safety.

"If an increased sizing of the dam were to be contemplated as a possibility you'd want to integrate in the reinforcement and strengthening of the dam," said San Luis Water District general manager Martin McIntyre.

But McIntyre said pumping restrictions in the delta posed a bigger problem. He said Valley growers missed out on water from the last storm three weeks ago.

"In fact, enough water went out to the ocean just in that one week prior to serve the city of Fresno for an entire year," he said.

Congressman Costa is a Democrat but was confident his drought legislation will attract Republican support.

"It ultimately will be the glue that is part of a bi-partisan effort," said Costa.

Lawmakers have offered competing drought relief bills. Next month, we'll see if Costa's proposal provides the basis for negotiation in the search for long-term solutions to the state's water problems.


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