Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives adopted an amendment by Congressman Tom McClintock to forbid federal agencies from buying up scarce water during California’s catastrophic drought in order to release it into rivers to meet environmental requirements.
The amendment was subsequently adopted today as part of the Fiscal Year 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations Act. The amendment was adopted on a vote of 226 – 9, and final passage of the Appropriations Act on a vote of 230 -7.
Presenting the amendment to the House during debate yesterday, McClintock noted that despite extreme drought conditions, the Bureau of Reclamation has continued to release tens of thousands of acre feet of water because of environmental mandates. “These purchases have exacerbated an already perilous scarcity of water while at the same time forcing the price of remaining water supplies even higher,” he said.
Pointing to recent releases from the New Melones Dam, McClintock noted, “In order to benefit a handful of steelhead trout, the Bureau sacrificed enough water to meet the annual needs of a human population of 300,000. At $700 per acre foot, the cost of this exercise amounted to $21 million.” McClintock charged, “This makes a mockery of the sacrifices made by Californians who are stretching every drop of water in their homes.”