Drainage Deadline Fast Approaching

Fresno, Calif., (November 27, 2017) – In Washington D.C. terms, 2015 marked a rare instance where something positive was accomplished – the United States and Westlands Water District reached a settlement to resolve a decades long dispute over the federal government’s failure to provide drainage for lands within the District. The settlement was negotiated by President Obama’s Department of the Interior, thoroughly reviewed by the Obama Department of Justice, and then approved by the Obama White House. The Executive Branch support from the Obama Administration carried over into this year, when the Trump Administration began.

The settlement was based on years of analysis by federal agencies,
bipartisan Congressional hearings on the drainage issues, the environmental consequences of inaction, and a voluminous amount of information presented to the federal district court assigned to resolve the matter. Prior to the settlement, California Members of Congress from both parties were kept apprised of the settlement negotiations and fully briefed when the settlement was announced.

So, when HR 1769, the legislation authored by Rep. David Valadao to implement the settlement, was proposed for inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), there was great hope that the decades old problem would nally be resolved before the January 15, 2018, court-imposed deadline. But those hopes were dashed when Senators Maria Cantwell, the ranking member on the Senate Energy and Resources Committee, Dianne Feinstein, and Kamala Harris announced that they were opposed to including the bill in the defense authorization legislation.

Unfortunately, the failure to include the authorization language in the NDAA bill leaves the settlement in jeopardy.

Despite this setback, Westlands will continue to aggressively pursue a path to success. Westlands will work with Congressman Valadao and other members to look for every possible vehicle to obtain congressional authorization to implement the settlement.

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