Soon Valley cities and counties will see impact of new water bill

MERCED COUNTY (KFSN) -- Water is an issue state and local leaders have been battling for years, but new legislation could make some strides forward.

"We have a real positive step in the right direction," said Rep.Jim Costa.

President Barack Obama signed the Water Infrastructure Improvement for the nation act into law recently and several pages of it addresses ways to help fix California's water system.

For Merced County it authorizes a feasibility study for the Merced Streams Group Project, which when finished, will provide recommendations for flood protection.

"Merced is growing and there are eight communities affected by these streams that periodically flood when we get lots of water, rain and water, and we want lots of rain and water but we got to be able to protect our communities," said Costa.

State and local officials say along with more water for farmers, flood safety is also key.

The WIIN act also includes faster completion of the lower San Joaquin River Flood Risk Management Report. It also advances Merced Irrigation District's new Exchequer Spillway Enhancement Project which improves lake McClure by raising the dam to about 57,000 acre feet of water.

The USDA also announced a $10-million grant for the Black Rascal Creek Project aimed at providing flood protection.

"Black Rascal and Bear Creek are on systems that don't have a lot of dam, so people get flooded-- that adds a level of safety for our community," said Hub Walsh, Merced Co. District 2 Supervisor.

Costa said this is not a solution to all their problems with water but say it is a start.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.