HR 2898: Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015

The Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015 establishes procedures for the Department of the Interior, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Agriculture to address drought conditions in California by revising regulatory standards for managing conveyances of water to individual, agricultural, municipal, and industrial users from the California-based Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project in coordination with requirements for protecting threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, including fish species of salmonid and smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Suisun Marsh.

The bill requires the use of updated data to adjust incidental take levels, water export restrictions, and other conservation measures set forth in a smelt biological opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on December 15, 2008, and in a salmonid biological opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service on June 4, 2009, in order to increase water exports and maximize water supplies without causing a significant negative impact on the long-term survival of certain species listed as threatened or endangered.

The bill also provides for: (1) a nonnative predator fish removal program in the Stanislaus River, (2) the repeal of the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act and the related settlement, (3) expansion of the CVP’s authorized service area to include the Kettleman City Community Services District, and (4) the use of expedited procedures to consider project requests from the California governor relating to emergency drought conditions.

For areas within and beyond California, the bill revises or establishes requirements for water supply permits, prepayments on water service contracts, water efficiency considerations in dam safety projects, and water rights in land use decisions.

HR 2898 is sponsored by Representative David Valadao. It was passed by the House on July 16, 2015 and was considered during a hearing held by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on October 8, 2015.