Thursday, 11 August 2022

Dodd introduces legislation to improve water storage and reliability

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – Assemblyman Bill Dodd (D-Napa) has introduced new legislation to help save water during heavy rains that would otherwise flow out to the ocean.

Dodd’s bill will make it easier for farmers to use small ponds to collect and save water during wet months, which means less water will need to be pumped from streams and rivers when flows are low. 

“As a member of the Environmental Caucus and Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, I’m happy to introduce common sense water policy that will benefit both farmers and fish,” said Dodd. “This legislation continues to build on the foundation set forth by Congressman Jared Huffman during his time in the California State Assembly. This represents another step towards thoughtful water policy that protects our environment and economy in the face of drought.”

Many farmers in the Central Coast and North Coast rely on water from streams that support salmon and steelhead.

Some of these agricultural water diversions occur during the drier irrigation season when streamflow is naturally low and infant salmon and steelhead populate the streams. 

In 2011, former Assembly member and current Congressman Jared Huffman was the first to establish a registration system for small irrigation ponds, which reduce the need for diversions from streams in dry months.

Due to differing and complex regulations from the state agencies involved, very few farmers have been able to take advantage of the program.

Dodd’s legislation, Assembly Bill 1704, builds upon that measure by creating a simple, more efficient process for farmers to register those ponds.

In a related effort to improve the reliability of the state water supply, Assemblyman Dodd also has recently introduced the Open and Transparent Water Data Act.

The act will provide a system for documenting water transfers to better enable water managers to cope with current and future drought conditions.

"I would like to acknowledge Assemblymember Dodd's leadership on this important aspect of water data collection and management. I also appreciate his willingness to continue working with the water community to refine and improve upon the proposal,” said Grant Davis, general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency. “The value of creating a statewide clearinghouse is that it allows us to make informed decisions based on data that already exist but are currently out of reach.”

Dodd represents the Fourth Assembly District, which includes all or portions of Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Solano, Yolo and Colusa counties. You can learn more about Assemblymember Dodd and the district at www.asm.ca.gov/dodd .

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