Today, December 16, 2016, President Obama signed into law S. 612, the "Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act" (WIIN Act).
The WIIN Act includes provisions that can increase water supplies for Kern County, and help protect and enhance those water supplies into the future.
The WIIN Act is the result of more than four years of work by Congressmen Kevin McCarthy and David Valadao, and their work with Senator Dianne Feinstein to address the effects of California's deepening drought. The difficult negotiations to develop the WIIN Act resulted in a balanced law that improves water supplies while maintaining environmental protections for endangered species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
"This act is the first law in more than a decade that improves Kern County's water supplies. After a series of State and federal regulations that restrict water supplies without helping endangered species, this law will advance the interests of both. The Kern County Water Agency congratulates Majority Leader McCarthy, Congressman Valadao and Senator Feinstein on this historic accomplishment," said Agency Board of Directors President Ted Page.
Kern County's water supplies have not yet recovered from the hydrologic and regulatory drought imposed by nature and State and federal government agencies. California normally receives more than 90 percent of its snow and rain between December and April. With the strong start to this water year, hopefully more water will be available to Kern County this year.
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced an initial State Water Project (SWP) allocation on November 28, 2016 of 20 percent, which means about 200,000 acre-feet of water would be delivered to Kern County water users from the SWP in 2017-compared to the contracted amount of about one million acre-feet. A final allocation is expected to be announced in April 2017. However, the amount of water available to Kern County still depends on federal regulatory decisions, and the WIIN Act could bring more water to Kern County more often.