Mr. COSTA. Mr. Chairman, it is oftentimes the poorest and some of the most underrepresented communities in the country that have the greatest impacts--for historical reasons, in part--on public health, communities across the country we all represent.
I represent a number of those communities in California in the San Joaquin Valley that are experiencing enormous challenges as it relates to their water quality and contamination that has existed because of decades-past experiences in many cases with nitrates, in which at the time it was not well understood, but today it is, that in fact it has tremendous impacts on our drinking water supply as it relates to our aquifers.
The amendment that is proposed is intended to address this problem by creating a pilot program for severely disadvantaged communities that would provide funds in this FARRM Bill for the Rural Utility Service that would address this nitrate contamination for rural drinking water communities, those communities that we all represent that have 10,000 population or less.
The San Joaquin Valley that Congressman Valadao and I and others represent has almost 4 million people. It's almost 10 percent of California's population. Twenty percent of those folks live below the poverty line. They reflect a broad cross-range of folks--immigrants past, immigrants present--who have come here to live the American Dream and work so hard, so many in our agriculture economy.
While nitrates occur naturally at low levels, crop fertilizers and practices with both dairy and other animal husbandry practices create nitrates that in fact impact the elevation of the contamination within our drinking water sources within our aquifers.
In fact, California's Central Valley is especially vulnerable to that nitrate contamination since it accounts for more than half of the agriculture production in California and aquifers are the primary source of drinking water for 90 percent of the residents.
Unfortunately, in the past, have didn't have strong controls, and we didn't really understand the science. Today, we do.
It is often difficult to identify a single party that is responsible for the impacts; but what is most important is that we fix the problem, that we clean the water supply for those residents.
Today, we have, I think, a better balance between public health and the impact of agricultural practices.
This amendment, if adopted, would provide the opportunity to focus on assisting disadvantaged communities with improving their drinking water that has been contaminated by nitrates.
I would like to yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from California (Mr. Valadao).
Mr. VALADAO. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the gentleman from California (Mr. Costa) and his amendment.
Ground water provides drinking water for more than one half of the Nation's population and is the only source of drinking water for many rural communities, like those in my Central Valley congressional district. Many do not have access to a clean, safe supply of water and are unable to access the funding or resources necessary to develop sustainable water supplies and improve their water infrastructure.
In the Central Valley, nitrate contamination is all too common. While contamination can occur for many reasons, oftentimes no one is directly responsible. Clean-up costs are then borne by the affected community.
Through my position on the House Appropriations Committee, I worked to ensure language was included in the House agricultural appropriations bill to require the Department of Agriculture to provide a report to the Appropriations Committee regarding their programs and outreach efforts to disadvantaged communities who are impacted by water supply issues.
Every family in America should have clean drinking water. Anything less is unacceptable.
Mr. COSTA. Yes, Congressman Crawford, I will be more than willing to yield to Chairman Lucas and to Ranking Member Peterson. We appreciate your willingness to work with us together on this effort to ensure that we can deliver resources that are important to our small communities throughout the country that are impacted in this way. I will withdraw the amendment and continue to work with you.
The ACTING CHAIR. The amendment is withdrawn.
AMENDMENT NO. 34 OFFERED BY MR.
The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 34 printed in part B of House Report 113-117.