Big agriculture’s awful GROW water bill passes house. Dems will fight it in the Senate.

  • Published on July 13th, 2017

The bill to take control of California’s water away from California has passed the House. HR 23, the “Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017,” aka the GROW water bill, passed on a near-party-line vote.

By Jeremy Bloom Oroville Dam image by California Nation Guard

“This will provide more water … allow more of that water to come through the Valley where it’s needed instead of out to the ocean,” crowed bill sponsor David Valadao (R-CA).

Nobody is opposed to adding infrastructure that would capture and store more water (and prevent devastating flooding, as happened with last year’s draught-ending deluge).

It’s the other parts of the bill that have enraged Californians, ranging from gutting the endangered species act to unraveling last year’s bipartisan agreement on water that was hammered out after years of negotiations and compromises.

Oh, and it also guts key provisions of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act of 1992 and the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act,  two landmark federal laws that have been bringing back California’s river ecosystems, and the salmon in particular, from the brink of disaster.

Background: Feinstein, Harris, even Jerry Brown hate big agriculture’s awful GROW water bill

But hey, millionaire almond farmers have got to keep expanding, and that takes water. While everyone else was cutting back on water use during the worst drought in California’s history, agribusiness actually planted 150,000 new acres of almond trees, then demanded water allocations that would have driven salmon to extinction.

Governor Jerry Brown issued a statement that noted:

This bill overrides California water law, ignoring our state’s prerogative to oversee our waters.  Commandeering our laws for purposes defined in Washington is not right.

It is also not smart.  California is the sixth-largest economy in the world, and its future depends on the wise and equitable use of its water.  

Dancing on thin water

Now that the House has voted, the bill heads to the Senate. Like the many incarnations of Obamacare repeal, the House in the past has been very happy to approve symbolic (but disastrous) legislation, knowing that it would either be blocked in the Senate or vetoed by President Obama. But now, with the GOP in charge of all branches of government, there’s a possibility that this mess might actually become law.

California’s Democratic Senators, Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris, will take point on the fight in the Senate:

California… deserves sensible and responsible water solutions—this measure doesn’t even come close to meeting that test.

…It also prevents California from using new scientific data to manage our water supply by reverting us back to outdated limits set more than two decades ago. Congressman Valadao’s bill would set back the progress made to find a balanced solution to California’s drought.

What you can do:

Use this app to contact your Senators. Tell them you are STRONGLY OPPOSED to H.R. 23, the “Gaining Responsibility on Water”, aka the GROW water bill, and you encourage them to vote NO.

Do it now! It’ll just take you a minute…

(Oroville dam image CC by California National Guard.)

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.