For many years California water users have experienced fairly level water rates. However, some communities have begun to see rate increases because the population growth in southern California has not been matched by similar growth in available water supplies. Local water agencies must ultimately decide what water rates are appropriate in order for them to provide water to their users.
In December of 2007, U. S. District Judge Oliver Wanger issued a final ruling that is expected to result in the reduction of water deliveries from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by about a third, in an effort to protect the endangered delta smelt. The ruling comes at a time when 23 California counties are under a federal drought emergency declaration, and the Colorado River is experiencing historically low flow levels. If these conditions continue, Californians in many areas may be faced with mandatory water rationing in the not too distant future.
I believe that California must address its water imbalance by increasing water supplies and taking appropriate measures to reduce water demand. Significant investments are needed to improve our water infrastructure, including additional surface and groundwater storage, a comprehensive Bay Delta solution and water use efficiency. California must continue to examine water recycling, desalination, and conservation methods to efficiently manage our water supplies.
As the former Chairman of the House Water and Power Subcommittee, I have worked to maintain and enhance a reliable water supply in California and our nation. My legislation, H.R. 2828, the Water Supply, Reliability and Environmental Enhancement Act, was passed during the 108th Congress and signed into law by President Bush. This federal reauthorization of the California-Federal Bay Delta Program (CALFED) will play a critical role in developing new water yield and adequate storage.