NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 39
(Extensions of Remarks - March 05, 2019)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E244]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                               speech of

                             HON. PAUL COOK

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, February 26, 2019

  Mr. COOK. Mr. Speaker, I rise along with my colleagues, Congressman 
Ruiz and Congressman Calvert to speak to S. 47, the Natural Resources 
Management Act and a provision that I introduced as part of the 
California Desert Protection and Recreation Act of 2019, specifically 
Section 1457 as it relates to the designation of the Whitewater River 
as a Wild and Recreational River.
  The City of Banning and the Community of Banning Heights, which are 
in the district of Mr. Ruiz, receive a vital source of water from a 
flume that conveys water from the headwaters of the Whitewater River, 
which is located in my district.
  In 1913, the State of California recognized the appropriative state 
water rights that the City of Banning and Banning Heights Mutual Water 
Company use to divert water from the headwaters of the Whitewater River 
into the San Gorgonio watershed. In 1918, the U.S. Secretary of the 
Interior approved the right-of-way for the diversion structures and the 
flume that carries the water to the City and to Banning Heights. These 
communities have relied on this water for over a century--water that is 
critical for drinking, cooking, washing, and fire control. The two 
communities own the water rights, which provide 100 percent of the 
water for the community of Banning Heights and approximately 30 percent 
of the water for the City of Banning.
  In designating the Whitewater River as a Wild and Recreational River, 
we speak with one voice in saying that we do not wish in any way to 
interfere with these historic rights. We recognize that the downstream 
portions of the Whitewater River already have the necessary flows for 
the Wild and Recreational designations and that additional flows are 
not needed to maintain or enhance these designations. As the primary 
sponsor of the legislation containing the Whitewater designation in the 
House, I in particular, wish to underscore this as a matter of 
legislative history and Congressional intent. We ask that the Forest 
Service and the BLM in implementing the Wild and Recreational River 
designations heed this Congressional intent and incorporate it into any 
land management plan amendment and other implementing documents.
  We also want to be sure that the United States Forest Service--
specifically the San Bernardino National Forest--heeds the instructions 
from the FY19 Interior Appropriations bill (P.L. 116-6) that reminds 
the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service of the states' 
jurisdiction over water law and expect that all applicable laws will be 
followed when considering a request for a permit or permit renewal.
  The U.S. Forest Service, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Bureau 
of Land Management, and other agencies should not now, or in the 
future, point to the designation of the Whitewater River as a Wild and 
Recreational River as a justification to require the City of Banning or 
the Banning Heights Mutual Water Company to relinquish their state-
granted water rights nor should such agencies require the removal of 
diversions at the headwaters of the Whitewater River and the flume that 
are necessary for these communities to receive water appropriated to 
them by the State of California.