House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly report from Capitol Hill. In his words:
"Unfortunately, four years of historic drought and decades of mismanaged water policy have threatened our water supply so much that communities are forced to ration usage. So it isn’t a
"But El Niño also comes with great risks. As we saw last week, an unexpected storm rolled over the Central and Antelope Valleys, and the downpour of rain on the dry land caused mudslides onto the 5 through the Grapevine and along the 58. Tragically, it appears this storm has claimed its first casualty, and another man remains missing. Future heavy rains could cause even more damage.
"So here we are, a couple months away from a possible godsend to our parched state that could quickly become a recipe for disaster. To respond to heavy rains compounded by years of drought, we must have a coordinated plan. The question is, have our state and Federal governments developed or discussed that plan?
"Under the Stafford Act that Congress enacted in 1988 the Federal government has the ability to help states prepare for imminent storm threats — but only if the states request it. So has the state developed streamlined processes to do so should storms threaten to make landfall?
"Separately, we must also ensure that our infrastructure is prepared for the coming storms. With the rivers dry and storms on the horizon, what needs to be done to ready our infrastructure for the potential deluge?
While it is important to prepare for potential mudslides and flooding, we must also remember that our constituents desperately need water.
"Outside of repeated attempt to address the water crisis through legislation in the House, I have led my colleagues in the House and State Senator Fuller has led her colleagues in the state legislature to question President Obama and Governor Brown on their water policies ahead of El Niño. We want to know: What plans do the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service have in place to capture El Niño-related rain and snowpack for human use? Or will they just let all this usable water go to waste?
"Heavy rainfall can be a blessing or a curse depending on how we prepare for it today and use it when it comes. But with the right policies and leadership, the coming rain and snow can be part of the answer to, not the cause of, our challenges.