Harder Announces SAVE Water Resources Act to Address Central Valley Water Needs

April 24, 2019
Press Release
Bill Focuses on “All of the Above” Solutions, Has Garnered Support of Diverse Group of Stakeholders, Broad Bipartisan Backing

Modesto, CA – Representative Josh Harder today announced the Securing Access for the Central Valley and Enhancing (SAVE) Water Resources Act. The bill provides a wraparound approach to addressing water issues facing the Central Valley by increasing storage opportunities, spurring innovation, and making long-overdue investments in our aging water infrastructure. Although water politics are often adversarial, Rep. Harder has spent months sourcing water ideas directly from a wide array of local stakeholders and experts to ensure the final bill attends to the needs of a diverse set of interests. The bill has broad bipartisan support from over a dozen local organizations and elected officials.

“We’re stuck in a 20th century mindset on water use that fools us into believing the answer to our water problems is to take it from someone else – pitting us against each other. Southern California against Northern California. Farmer against fisherman, and Democrat against Republican. But after the worst drought in our history, we’re all finally starting to understand that that system doesn’t work,” said Rep. Harder. “We have the most variable rainfall in the country here in California – if we had passed this law 20 years ago like we should have, we wouldn’t be seeing a wet year like this one as a complete missed opportunity to invest in our future water needs and store valuable water for times in need.”

The SAVE Water Resources Act touches on a broad range of water policy areas aimed at increasing water storage opportunities, spurring innovation in water sustainability, and making responsible federal investments in our aging water infrastructure. In brief, the bill:


  • Improves water storage by requiring the Bureau of Reclamation to expedite feasibility studies for four specific storage projects in the Central Valley, including: Sites Reservoir, Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir, Los Vaqueros and San Luis Reservoirs and provides $100 million in storage funding.
  • Helps farmers prepare for SGMA by leveraging federal resources to identify prime locations for groundwater storage and recharge in California and across the Western United States.


  • Creates the “X-Prize” program to incentivize private sector development of cutting-edge water projects.
  • Invests in water reuse and recycling by increasing funding for WaterSMART programs from $50 million to $500 million and extending the program’s authorization.


  • Establishes a water infrastructure and drought solutions fund to provide $300 million for water surface and groundwater storage, water reclamation and reuse, and WaterSMART program projects.
  • Creates an innovative financing program which would provide low-interest federal loans to fund local water infrastructure projects.
  • Reauthorizes the Rural Water Supply Act, which requires the Bureau of Reclamation to work with rural communities to improve access to safe and clean sources of drinking water.

A one-page brief on the SAVE Water Resources Act is available here, and a full section-by-section explanation of the legislation is available here.

The bill is supported by elected officials of both parties. The bill is cosponsored by Congressmen John Garamendi, Ami Bera, TJ Cox, and Jim Costa. It also has the support of California State Senators Anna Caballero, Cathleen Gagliani; California Assemblymen Heath Flora and Adam Gray; Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa, and Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak. 

It is also supported by a diverse set of stakeholders, including: Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, Western Growers Association, Modesto Irrigation District, Turlock Irrigation District, Oakdale Irrigation District, South San Joaquin Irrigation District, Del Puerto Water District, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (pending board action), and Stanislaus County.

“This water legislation, if it becomes law, will help increase our water supply,” said Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16). “My collective efforts to create long-term water reliability has been based on bipartisan efforts and working together.”

"Over the last four decades, both Republicans and Democrats have controlled Washington DC. Neither party has made meaningful investments in our water infrastructure,” said Assemblyman Adam Gray. “Congressman Harder is trying to move the needle on a difficult issue. I support his effort."

"We need Congressman Harder to be a leader in Congress for our water rights in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Assemblyman Heath Flora. “The SAVE Water Resources Act is a great step forward for the families and businesses that rely on a reliable clean source of water. Only through a bipartisan approach can we achieve a successful solution to our water needs and provide for much-needed water storage."

“Agriculture drives the economy of Stanislaus County, and we must ensure that our farmers have access to the water they need to sustain their livelihoods – especially during times of drought,” said Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa. “This should not be a partisan issue, and I appreciate Congressman Harder’s work to secure broad consensus that will allow us to grow and sustain our water supply while also protecting our environment.”

“TID understands that in order to provide safe, reliable and affordable water and power to our customers, new cooperative approaches must be prioritized,” said Casey Hashimoto, General Manager, Turlock Irrigation District. “The SAVE Water Resources Act is a promising example of solution-based legislation that seeks to provide greater resources for California water.”

“The Stanislaus County Farm Bureau would like to recognize Congressman Harder’s efforts in drafting the SAVE Water Resources Act that addresses so many issues currently facing the district and the entire Central Valley,” said Darrell Cordova, Stanislaus County Farm Bureau Board President. “His act encompasses the major drivers that affect our members and communities in agriculture: infrastructure, storage, technology, finance, rural water supply, recycling and groundwater management.” 

“The SAVE Water Resources Act provides additional financing tools and direct federal funding for needed water infrastructure and storage improvements,” said Federico Barajas, Executive Director, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. “This legislation, if enacted, would help address long term priorities of the Water Authority: reducing subsidence impacts on the Delta-Mendota Canal and increasing our above and below ground storage. It’s long past time for action to improve California’s water system.”