Local lawmakers also unhappy

After the federal Central Valley Project reported today it expects to deliver only 65 percent of contract water supplies to its agricultural water contractors south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said the announcement shows how operation of the state’s water system remains in need of an overhaul.

“In the alternate universe of California water, we can have floods, full reservoirs and a huge snowpack and still not have full water supplies. It boggles the mind,” Wenger said.

“Operation of our water system remains out of whack. We need to continue efforts to improve and expand the system,” he said. “In Congress, passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act last year marked an important step in addressing the system’s inadequacies. Congress must now follow through with measures such as Rep. David Valadao’s Gaining Responsibility on Water Act, which would offer longer-term ability to store and move water.”

Congressman David Valadao (R-Hanford) also weighed in on Wednesday.

“Today’s announcement is no surprise. Over the last several years, naturally occurring dry conditions in the State of California have been exacerbated by government bureaucracy and environmental regulations that prevent water deliveries through the Delta. But it is incredibly disappointing that even when we have high amounts of precipitation, water deliveries are still not at one hundred percent.

“Approximately half of California’s water is consumed by environmental regulations. In addition to flushing precious water out to sea, these regulations prevent the construction and repair of water infrastructure projects throughout the State. With sufficient water infrastructure, water from storms, such as those we experienced this winter, could be captured to satisfy all contractual obligations, and stored for dry years. 

“Families, farmers, and entire communities throughout California have suffered for too long under this man-made drought. Today’s announcement from the Bureau of Reclamation emphasizes the need for legislative action at the federal level,” he said in a statement.

Wenger said farmers and ranchers will also press Congress to modernize endangered-species laws, “to balance the goals of environmental restoration with the ability to provide the resources needed to grow food and farm products.”

At the state level, he said, California must move as quickly as possible to invest money from the Proposition 1 water bond into storage projects that provide the state with more ability to store water in wet winters such as this.

“Improved storage capacity, both above and below ground, is crucial to California’s long-term ability to withstand droughts, protect against floods and gain the flexibility needed to allow people and the environment to thrive,” Wenger said.

State Sen. Andy Vidak sent a letter to Ryan Zinke, secretary of the Interior, urging him to step in and force officials to increase the allotment.

“Given the amount of water in the water system, we believe all Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors should receive a 100% allocation of water for 2017.  Many farmers, farm workers and communities that rely on the CVP for water supply received only a 20 percent allocation in 2013, no allocation in 2014 and 2015, and only a 5 percent allocation in 2016 despite a normal rainfall that year and available water in state,” wrote Vidak. 

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