Farm Bureau supports effort to maximize water storage during storms
March 28, 2014
Saying water managers must act now to capture water from early spring storms, the president of the California Farm Bureau Federation welcomed the effort by California congressional members to bring more flexibility to the operation of state and federal water projects, while at the same time balancing upstream storage needs, the reasonable needs of endangered species and protecting the rights of other legal users of water later in the year.
In a joint letter, the members—Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Reps. Ken Calvert, Jim Costa, Jeff Denham, Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and David Valadao—called on Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to provide leeway to fisheries agencies, to alter current water operations in order to capture storm flows from Northern California rains.
“It will take bipartisan efforts to address the drought issues before our state, so we are encouraged to see our representatives stand up together for commonsense actions to maximize water storage in a critically dry year,” California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger said. “We have allowed rain to flow to the ocean without capturing much-needed water to support growing our food and helping communities. Storm flows this season must be managed wisely to support our longer-term water needs.
“As detailed in the letter,” Wenger said, “urgent action is needed to help avert a repeat of the water supply losses caused by operational constraints after the last two storms.”
Wenger noted that California faces three challenges that have combined to cause serious water shortages this year: severe drought, a lack of investment in new water development, and inflexible endangered-species laws.
“We can’t do much to prevent drought,” he said, “but we can do more to prepare for it by creating additional water storage and by reforming laws that constrain our ability to use our existing system as flexibly as possible.
“Farm Bureau joins the bipartisan effort in urging Secretary Jewell and Secretary Pritzker to assert their authority and act to capture water from these storms without jeopardizing endangered species,” Wenger said.
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 78,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.
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