Huffman Supports Water Resources Development Act, Celebrates Wins for Northern California
The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 today, including key North Coast and environmental priorities authored by Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), a member of the committee. This legislation provides authority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to carry out water resources development projects and studies, as well as reforms and policy direction to the Corps for implementation of its civil works missions.
“Making smart investments in water infrastructure and modernizing the Army Corps’ work at our ports, harbors, reservoirs, and waterways is necessary for bolstering our economy and protecting communities from the increasing threats of climate change,” said Rep. Huffman. “The provisions in this year’s WRDA will go a long way in addressing the long-term resiliency of our water projects while creating jobs and stimulating the economy, especially coastal communities like many in my northern California district in need of harbor maintenance and ecosystem restoration.”
The legislation included numerous provisions Rep. Huffman promoted, including:
- A study to evaluate site opportunities for the beneficial reuse of dredge material for the City of Petaluma’s tidal wetland located adjacent to the City’s temporary dredge spoils site.
- A broad study to assess the economic, environmental, and technical feasibility for the deployment and implement of floating solar panels on Army Corps managed reservoirs, infrastructure, and other and facilities.
- The adoption of an amendment prioritizing the beneficial use of dredge material to areas experiencing and vulnerable to land loss from coastal subsidence or sea level rise.
- Language requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to establish, maintain, and make public an inventory of low-head dams.
Rep. Huffman’s requests for funding for local environmental infrastructure projects were also included in the package. Members were limited to five requests per district:
- Healdsburg Aquifer Storage and Recovery Wells; City of Healdsburg: $8.5 Million. This project would aid in the design and installation of up to three Aquifer Storage and Recover (ASR) wells to store up to 490 acre-feet of water for use during droughts.
- Healdsburg Mitigation of Drought through Recycled Water Offsets; City of Healdsburg: $15 Million. The project would construct a 4.5-mile distribution network to deliver recycled water from the treatment facility to municipal users — parks, schools, athletic fields, cemetery, etc. — offsetting approximately 40 million gallons of potable water.
- Marin Strategic Water Supply Assessment; Marin Municipal Water District: $28 Million. The assessment would guide future water supply projects. The intention of the assessment and the future projects is to enhance regional water resiliency within Marin and the North Bay more broadly.
- Petaluma Recycled Water Expansion; City of Petaluma: $13.7 Million. The Recycled Water Expansion project would include Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility (ECWRF) Treatment Capacity Increase, Maria Drive Urban Pipeline Expansion, and Adobe Road Agriculture Pipeline Expansion.
- Tolowa Wastewater Infrastructure Improvements; Tolowa Dee-Ni’ Nation: $25 Million. This project would replace wastewater infrastructure serving 150 low-income households in a mobile home park that was purchased by the Nation.
As the WRDA process continues, Rep. Huffman will continue to work to ensure that local authorized Army Corps projects are expediated, including:
- Coyote Valley Dam: Would expedite the completion of a feasibility study for the Coyote Valley Dam to raise the dam to allow for better flood control as well as water conservation and supply. This feasibility study was initially included in the 114th Congress WRDA and expedition requests were included in the subsequent 115th and 116th Congresses.
- Hamilton Wetlands Restoration Project — Phase 2 Bel Marin Keys: The project will restore seasonal and tidal wetland habitats and to reduce open water dredged material disposal through beneficial use. It has not received the necessary federal funding for completion.
- Resilient San Francisco Bay Beneficial Use Pilot Project: Would expedite the completion of construction for the Resilient San Francisco Bay Pilot Project. This project includes direct placement of dredged sediment from federal navigation channels in San Francisco Bay to subsided wetland restoration sites, including Bel Marin Keys.
“We are excited about the prospect of upgrading the wastewater system that serves 150 families living at the Howonquet Village and Resort and appreciate Congressman Huffman’s leadership on this issue and long-time support for Nation priorities. We are especially excited about this wastewater project, as this is the site of the Tolowa ancestral Village of Xaa-wan’-k’wvt,” said Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation Tribal Council Chairperson Jeri Lynn Thompson.
“Last year, Marin Water faced a drought of historic proportions. Our reservoir storage dropped to levels we had not seen in decades, and we put out an urgent call to our 191,000 customers to save water through conservation measures. Although winter rains helped move us past our immediate local water shortage emergency, we cannot rely solely on local rainfall as we anticipate continued climate-driven drought conditions into the future. We are pursuing a Strategic Water Supply Assessment to address our water supply vulnerabilities, and we will work with our local, state, and federal partners to enhance regional water resiliency within the North Bay. We are deeply grateful for Congressman Huffman’s continued leadership on behalf of Marin Water in our pursuit of a sustainable and affordable supply, and we are pleased that the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee agreed today to help support our community’s water infrastructure needs in the face of a changing climate,” said Larry Russell, Marin Water’s President of the Board of Directors.
Congress has also successfully enacted four consecutive bipartisan WRDAs in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020. More information on WRDA 2022, including bill text, can be found here.