CA Congressman Turns to Crowdsourcing For Help Crafting Drought Bill

California Drought Lake McClure (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) is enlisting the public’s help in crafting a bill to battle California’s record four-year drought.

Huffman and other House Democrats on Wednesday released a new 140-page draft of a drought relief bill and invited the public to comment on the bill before its formal introduction. The proposed legislation focuses heavily on water recycling and reuse, investments in groundwater cleanup, irrigation and desalination technology, and watershed protection programs.

In a statement announcing the bill, Huffman said “some in Congress have treated the drought as a political opportunity instead of a moral imperative.”

“They’ve dusted off the same political agenda they’ve pursued for years: weakening environmental laws, gutting fishery protections, and redirecting water needed by other regions–and tried to sell it as a drought response,” Huffman said. “We can’t just keep lurching from one crisis to the next, and my bill helps us plan for the worst.”

Huffman and House Democrats in the minority have long felt left out of drought-related legislative discussions. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) has held secret meetings with House Republicans over California water since last year.

“I agree with Congressman Huffman that we need a drought bill that benefits different parts of the state, which is why I have met with him to discuss his bill and hope to include some of his ideas in the bill I’m developing,” Feinstein said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle. “I look forward to continuing to work with him as this process continues.”

Huffman’s bill calls for increased federal spending on more efficient irrigation technology, pipeline and well construction and upgrades to state wastewater treatment facilities. It would also allocate funds to battle the drought from a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation fund that contains more than $10 billion.

The bill is almost sure to face stiff opposition from House Republicans. Even some Democrats