Senate Approves Potentially Historic Water Bill

The fight for water in the drought-stricken Central Valley has spanned years, from smelt, to water storage.

Friday, valley congressmen spoke out about new legislation that could change that.

"And I think we are having success, finally," Congressman Jim Costa said.

$558 million for things like state water-storage projects and moving water.

"To move water through the Delta, during the high peak flows when we have a lot of rain in November through March," Costa said. "That will provide real-time opportunities, not only to monitor our water system, but to increase pumping." 

Friday night, the bill faced the Senate and outspoken opponents like Senator Barbara Boxer.

Boxer initially worked on the bill, but this week, pledged to filibuster her own work.

That's after she says, McCarthy and Pelosi's portion hijacks the bill and attacks the Endangered Species Act.

Tom Birmingham with the Westlands Water District says, that's not true.

"Nor does it require that the central valley project and the state project operate outside of the existing biological opinions developed for protection of the fisheries," Birmingham said. "What it does, is it requires that these agencies base their decisions on science, rather than on intuition, and it will significantly improve the flexibility of these two projects."

Meaning more water.

Local farmers say, it's a first step to addressing what they call a broken water system.

"Really trying to address the issues that we've ignored for too long," Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen said.

Valley lawmakers reacted to tonight's vote, minutes after. 

Congressman Jim Costa responded, saying quote, "Finally, drought stricken communities, farmers, and farm workers will feel some relief. I hope the president acts swiftly and signs the legislation as soon as possible." 

Congressman Kevin McCarthy issued this tweet tonight, saying, "In a 78-21 vote, the senate has passed #WRDA - including the most significant California water reforms in 25 years." 

Reporting in Fresno, Megan Rupe. 

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