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House Committee Considers Rep. Katie Porter Bill to Provide Sustainable Clean Water to Orange County Families

Congresswoman’s legislation would reauthorize key federal program that analyzes water supplies and demands

WASHINGTON—The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife today discussed legislation from Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA) to further evaluate current and future water levels. Porter’s bill would reauthorize the Bureau of Reclamation’s Basin Study Program, which works with state and local partners and non-governmental organizations to assess water challenges and identify solutions to improve water management.

“Droughts intensified by the climate crisis are threatening the water stores that Californians rely on,” said Porter, Chair of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. “Our state is suffering its worst drought in 1,200 years. It’s essential that local leaders have the tools they need to maintain a steady supply of water.”

Adel Hagekhalil, the General Manager of the largest wholesale water provider in the United States, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, testified in support of the legislation. Metropolitan, which has worked directly with the Bureau of Reclamation on basin studies, collectively serves drinking water to approximately 19 million people and businesses in more than 300 cities and several unincorporated communities in Southern California.

“We can no longer deny the impacts of climate change on our water supply and must work together as one to adapt to the critical hydrological conditions in our watersheds,” Hagekhalil testified. “Metropolitan looks forward to working with Representative Porter, this committee, and Congress to reauthorize this helpful program.” 

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Basin Study Program develops applied science tools, data, guidance, and site-specific pilots to evaluate water management strategies. The program has produced more than two dozen reports over the past decade, including several studies of basins essential to Orange County families’ water supply. The 2012 Basin Study of the Colorado River is serving as a scientific guidepost on long-term supply and demand imbalances on a body of water that local Orange County water providers rely on. In 2013, the Bureau published a Basin Study for the Santa Ana Watershed, a large portion of which is in Porter’s district.

Congresswoman Porter has been a consistent advocate for environmental protection throughout her time in Congress. She’s introduced legislation to raise fees on polluters extracting from public lands, spearheaded bipartisan efforts to improve disaster response and resiliency, and repeatedly urged her colleagues to take bold, urgent action to fight the climate crisis. In 2021, she chaired a Congressional hearing and listening session in Orange County on a major oil leak off the coast of Huntington Beach.