Valadao unveils bipartisan Headwaters Protection Act

U.S. Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) on June 12 introduced a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize and improve the Water Source Protection Program (WSPP), a section of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 to carry out watershed protection and restoration.

“Water is the lifeblood of the Central Valley,” Rep. Valadao said. “Valley communities who are often forced to rely on surface and groundwater will benefit from increased investments to improve our watersheds and prevent pollution.”

Specifically, the Headwaters Protection Act of 2023, H.R. 4018, which Rep. Valadao cosponsored with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), would reauthorize the WSPP at $30 million annually from 2024 through 2028, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

The legislation also would expand the list of eligible lands and entities to include small ditch companies, acequias, wastewater treatment providers, and community land grants, the summary says.

Additionally, H.R. 4018 would lower the threshold for smaller private-sector companies to engage in public-private partnerships by reducing the non-federal match requirement from 50 percent to 20 percent, among other provisions.

“The health of California’s watersheds, waterways, and wetlands are inter-connected to the San Joaquin Valley’s agricultural economy,” said Rep. Costa. “Investing in watershed health leads to improving access to clean drinking water and greater water availability downstream.”

H.R. 4018 has been referred for consideration to both the U.S. House Agriculture Committee and the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee.

“Ensuring our rural communities have access to safe, clean, and reliable water is my top priority,” Rep. Valadao said on Monday.