Washington, DC - Today, Congressmen Juan Vargas (CA-51) and Duncan Hunter (CA-50) introduced the “California New River Restoration Act of 2016” (H.R. 5629). This bipartisan bill improves restoration and conservation efforts in the New River in both California and Mexico through the creation of a California New River restoration program.

“While considerable progress has been made in restoring the New River, substantial work still needs to be done,” states Rep. Vargas. “This bill provides the necessary federal support to provide the needed conservation efforts to reignite the restoration of this international river.”

The New River is a binational waterway historically recognized for its high concentration of pollution. It flows north into the United States through Calexico, passes through the Imperial Valley and drains to the Salton Sea. The existing and ongoing voluntary conservation efforts at the New River necessitate improved efficiency and cost effectiveness. This includes increased private-sector investments and coordination of Federal and non-Federal resources.  The California New River Restoration program creates the venues for further progress in those respective areas.

“This bill is an important step in restoring the New River, as well as the Salton Sea”, said Hunter.  “Building on existing efforts and leveraging proven programs will be key for future success.”

H.R. 5629 provides a twofold approach by (1) developing a coordinated approach to identify, prioritize and implement restorations activities in the New River, and (2) providing a competitive grant and technical assistance program to provide support on the ground for various local, state and international organizations. Additionally, the “California New River Restoration Act of 2016” ensures that the Environmental Protection Agency will consult with all New River stakeholders on both sides of the border during the creation and implementation of the program.

Congressman Vargas represents California’s 51st Congressional District which includes the southern portion of San Diego County, all of Imperial County and California’s entire US/Mexico border. Vargas was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and is currently serving his second term in Congress. He represented the 40th California State Senate District from 2010-2012, the 79th California State Assembly District from 2000-2006 and served on the San Diego City Council from 1993-2000.

Congressman Hunter represents California's 50th Congressional District, consisting of East and North County San Diego, as well as parts of Southwest Riverside County.  In 2008, Hunter was elected to his first term in the House of Representatives, following his service in the Marine Corps, which included three combat tours.