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House passes Miller’s water recycling bill

The House today passed Rep. George Miller’s H.R.2442, the “Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program Expansion Act of 2009,” on a 241-173 vote, advancing a bill that would help ease the region’s water issues.

The bill provides $38 million for six Bay Area water recycling projects: The CCCSD-Concord Recycled Water Project, the Central Dublin Recycled Water Distribution and Retrofit Project, the Petaluma Recycled Water Project, the Central Redwood City Recycled Water Project, the Palo Alto Recycled Water Pipeline Project and the Ironhouse Sanitary District-Antioch Recycled Water Project.

Together, Miller said, they’ll provide 7.2 million gallons of water per day for landscape irrigation and other uses, meaning that same amount of drinkable water gets freed up for nearly 25,000 households. And the projects are expected to create more than 3,000 jobs, he added.

“Today’s bill responds to the request for assistance from the state of California and local water managers to expand the supply of water in our drought-stricken state,” Miller said in his news release. “This bill is good for our economy – it will create thousands of jobs and it will help reduce stress on our oversubscribed fresh water systems.

House Republicans had fought the bill to a standstill two weeks ago; it was brought up Sept. 30 under suspension of the rules, meaning it needed a 2/3 majority to pass, and it went down on a near-party line, 240-170 vote. Today the bill was brought up under a rule, meaning it needed only a simple majority. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, tried again to have it sent back to committee, but failed.

“This legislation is an insult to the water-starved communities of the San Joaquin Valley,” Nunes raged in a statement issued today. “It is offensive to those of us who have fought for and been denied any legislative relief for the real water crisis in California – the one that has turned half a million acres into desert.”

Nunes has been pushing hard for a waiver to the Endangered Species Act so the water flow to Central Valley agribusiness can be restored regardless of the pumping’s impact on the endangered Delta smelt. “George Miller and his friends on the left supported the ESA waiver for New Mexico in 2003. Now they are telling the people of the San Joaquin Valley ‘no,’” Nunes said. “The hypocrisy of my colleagues on the Democratic side of the isle is very telling. Their actions today do not reflect the values of the American people.”

But Miller said water recycling is supported by the major water coalitions including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Association of California Water Agencies.

“This legislation will not only help my congressional district, which has pioneered water recycling efforts, but is one of a series of water recycling bills that the House has approved this year to expand water supply in communities up and down California, in Republican and Democratic districts alike — without controversy, and without amendment, and without debate on larger California water policy issues,” Miller said. “This year alone, the House has passed five local water bills for Republican members of the House. Those members asked for and received support from the House for their bills, and did not ask for an amendment for any one of those bills.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    “This legislation is an insult to the water-starved communities of the San Joaquin Valley,” Nunes raged in a statement issued today.

    How did he rage, I wonder? Did pieces of chipped teeth fly in all directions? Did he foam at the mouth?

    Insulting the San Joaquin Valley is what Miller’s legislative career (all 34 years of it [so far])is all about. It’s what he does.