H.R. 23, Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017

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Week ending July 14, 2017

H.R. 23, Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017


“H.R. 23 would amend the Central Valley Project Improvement Act and the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act (SJRRS) to change water management plans and environmental restoration goals for the Central Valley region in California. The bill would authorize construction of a warm water fishery as an alternative to implementing the SJRRS. H.R. 23 also would authorize the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to transfer the current balance and future receipts of the San Joaquin Restoration Fund to nonfederal entities to construct a warm water fishery.” – cbo.

On bills with impact, such as HR 23, any opposition often expresses concerns. What follows is an explanation of the bill from the House Minority Whip’s office;

“After an exceptionally wet winter, California’s historic six-year drought has ended and in April of this year Gov. Brown lifted the drought emergency for most of the state. All major federal reservoirs in California are now well above 100% of their 15-year averages and all federal water users are getting 100% of their water allocations this year.

“The bill overturns a historic settlement reached in 2006 between conservation and fishing interests on one side and agriculture interests on the other. The San Joaquin River Settlement ended a 20 year lawsuit requiring State and federal agencies to cooperate in returning water and a self-sustaining salmon population to the San Joaquin River, California’s second longest river. The bill dictates water allocations under certain conditions for agricultural interests and it changes safeguards under the Endangered Species Act that currently protect economically important fisheries. The bill effectively legislates science, rolling back existing biological opinions required under the Endangered Species Act and reverts back to obsolete limits established more than two decades ago. This redistribution of limited water supplies to large industrial farming operations in the San Joaquin Valley could harm the West Coast salmon fishery.

“The bill includes language identical to H.R. 1654, the Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act (Rep. McClintock) which passed the House last month.  That vote can be found here. This provision would alter the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) permitting process to expedite the construction of new dams. It establishes a permitting process which effectively puts the BOR in the driver seat of permitting new dams and has the potential to undermine the work of other federal agencies fulfilling their statutory obligations to assess impacts on water quality via the Clean Water Act or listed species under the Endangered Species Act.  Proponents of this provision argue that “streamlining” the permitting process for new dams will help to create jobs and grow the economy. In reality, the high cost of building a dam, coupled with the limited available funds and permitting issues on the state level, are the primary impediments to building new dams, not federal environmental laws or delays in the federal permitting process. According to the Bureau of Reclamation, not a single dam has been denied construction because of a lack of coordination between Reclamation and other agencies or because of delays associated with environmental review and permitting.”


(Full text of H.R. 23 at congress.gov)


Rep. Valadao, David G. [R-CA-21] (Introduced 01/03/2017)




On Passage:

House Amendments:

Motion to recommit:

Text of the motion:


On Passage:

Procedural Actions:


Senate Amendments:



Cost to the taxpayersCBO estimates that under H.R. 23 $181 million would be spent in 2019. Federal spending would decrease by the same amount over the 2020‐2021 period because under current law the bulk of spending to implement the JRRS is expected to occur in those years. Estimates of expenditures include funds available for spending from budget Authority made available in previous years

Pay-as-you-go requirements:  Data not available

Regulatory and Other Impact: Data not available

Dynamic Scoring:   Data not available

Tax Complexity:  Not applicable to this bill.

Earmark Certification:  Data not available

Duplication of programs: Data not available

Direct Rule-Making:  Data not available

Advisory Committee Statement: Data not available

Budget Authority: Data not available

Constitutional Authority:   Assumed.


More Bill Information:


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