Farm leader: Drought declaration calls attention to chronic water problems
Jan. 17, 2014
In welcoming Gov. Brown’s declaration of a drought emergency today, California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said he hopes the action will give state agencies increased flexibility to act in people’s best interest, and said the federal government should follow the governor’s lead in taking immediate action to provide flexibility in regulations that could hinder water transfers.
“Given the unprecedented dry weather we have endured for the past 13 months, it’s entirely appropriate for the governor to declare a drought emergency and we appreciate his timely action,” Wenger said.
“Farmers across California face wrenching decisions today, as well as in coming months. Will they have enough water to plant crops, to water their livestock, and keep trees and vines alive? An additional concern is how many people they may have to lay off as a result of water shortages. Any way the state and federal governments can provide assistance in adding water to the system will help,” he said.
Wenger said he also hopes the governor’s action will bring increased attention to the longer-term water supply crisis California faces, which is compounded by population growth, environmental regulations and now, by drought.
“We don’t know if this is Year 3 of a three-year drought or Year 3 of a longer drought,” he said. “We do know that long droughts can be a feature of the California climate—and we know one way to insulate ourselves from droughts is to store more water when we can.
“While he leads California through this drought, we urge Governor Brown to lead the campaign for new water storage,” Wenger said. “California has continued to improve its water efficiency, both on the farm and at home, but conservation alone won’t solve our chronic water supply problems. California must commit to improve its water system—and new storage, both aboveground and underground, provides more flexibility to respond to more volatile weather patterns.”
Wenger noted that California has an opportunity to invest in new supply by recrafting a water bond scheduled for the ballot this year.
“Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the governor and the Legislature to enhance future water supplies and cushion California from future droughts,” he 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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