Stateline, Nevada – The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed its $415 million version of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act as part of a vote to adopt the $10 billion Water Resources Development Act of 2016, a national water infrastructure bill for the next two years. The measures cleared the Senate with a 95-3 vote.
This milestone marks the first time that legislation to reauthorize Lake Tahoe Restoration Act has cleared the full Senate, having been stopped in the process after succeeding at the committee level several times over the last decade.
The bipartisan Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, sponsored by Senators Dean Heller (R-Nevada), Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), and Barbara Boxer (D-California), would authorize up to $415 million in federal funding over 10 years for federal, state, and local partners in the Tahoe Basin to continue their work to reduce wildfire threats, improve water clarity, jumpstart innovative infrastructure projects, combat aquatic invasive species, and reintroduce the Lahontan cutthroat trout.
“In Nevada, we know how lucky we are to possess one of America’s most pristine natural treasures: Lake Tahoe. And it is imperative Lake Tahoe’s value is reflected in the way our nation prioritizes its own needs. That’s why I’m proud to see this legislation, the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, successfully gain support of the Senate chamber today,” Senator Heller said.
“The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act highlights our commitment to protecting this unique ecosystem and the economy that depends upon the lake’s clarity,” Senator Reid said. “Last month, at my invitation, President Obama visited Lake Tahoe for the very first time to speak at the 20th anniversary of the Lake Tahoe Summit. At that event the federal government, the states of Nevada and California, local businesses, residents and philanthropists all rededicated ourselves to the work of protecting this unique and wonderful lake. As the entire world saw last month, the beauty of Lake Tahoe is unparalleled. We must do everything we can to keep it that way.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein said the public-private partnership born out of the original Lake Tahoe Restoration Act has invested $1.9 billion over the past 20 years to complete more than 500 conservation and preservation projects around the lake, with another 120 projects underway.
“Despite that success, there are still many issues threatening the future health of the lake. For instance, scientists from the Tahoe Environmental Research Center at UC-Davis recently announced that Lake Tahoe is warming faster than any large lake in the world due to climate change. This red flag reminds us why additional funding is vital to preserve the pristine nature of Lake Tahoe. I’m pleased the Senate passed our bipartisan bill to address the challenges climate change poses and other issues facing the lake. I look forward to its passage in the House of Representatives so the federal government maintains its commitment to preserving the Jewel of the Sierra,” Feinstein said.
Speaking at the 2016 Lake Tahoe Summit, Senator Barbara Boxer said, “Even though I am winding down my career, I will work to save Lake Tahoe.” Boxer is a co-sponsor of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act and ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee which has jurisdiction over the water infrastructure bill.
The House of Representatives is anticipated to consider its version of the Water Resources Development Act soon.
“The Senate’s passage of this legislation is an important milestone for the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act and we appreciate the support and hard work of our federal delegation in the Senate,” said Joanne S. Marchetta, executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “This legislation is critical to continue our progress in restoring and conserving Lake Tahoe’s environment for future generations, and we look forward to continued support from our federal delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives as well.”
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency leads the cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, while improving local communities, and people’s interactions with our irreplaceable environment. For additional information, contact Tom Lotshaw, Public Information Officer, at 775-589-5278.