Farm leader urges 'immediate, decisive' response to water crisis
» February 20, 2009 «
Saying that water reliability for Californians "has hit rock bottom," the leader of the state's largest farm group urged the state government to take immediate, decisive actions to address the state's water emergency. California Farm Bureau Federation President Doug Mosebar responded to today's announcement that the federal Central Valley Project may deliver no water to many of its customers this year, and that the State Water Project will meet only 15 percent of demand for its water.
"It doesn't get any worse than zero," Mosebar said. "Our water reliability has hit rock bottom. We're in an emergency that threatens tens of thousands of jobs in the Central Valley and elsewhere in California. It's time for the state to take immediate, decisive action."
Mosebar outlined steps the state should take to provide at least partial relief to water-short regions.
He said the State Water Resources Control Board should assure that voluntary, short-term water sales and transfers proceed quickly, and keep review of proposed transfers as a top priority.
"People will be scrambling this year to find enough water to keep their crops, farms and businesses alive," Mosebar said. "If people are willing to sell water to people who want to buy it, those transactions should move without delay. Review by the water board is important to protect water rights and protect people who might be indirectly affected by transfers, and that review should continue at an accelerated pace."
Mosebar also urged the water board to provide the CVP and SWP with more flexibility to operate their systems, in order to maximize water deliveries while avoiding unacceptable impacts on third parties or the environment. He said state water officials should "fast-track" design, permits and construction of pilot projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to create barriers that could keep fish away from delta water pumps and improve water quality and supply reliability. He said the state should also move rapidly to conclude long-term delta planning work and ongoing studies of new water storage facilities.
"Continued improvements in water-use efficiency will be crucial in meeting this short-term emergency and our long-term water crisis," Mosebar said. "As part of a comprehensive plan to address this crisis, the state must provide new strategies and incentives to encourage increased investment in water-use efficiency for every sector of society."
Finally, Mosebar urged the state Legislature to take urgent action to address California's pressing water needs.
"It's obvious that California must act, now, to complete a comprehensive, long-term plan to fix our overtaxed water system," he said. "The Legislature must adopt a plan that features new surface water facilities and improved water-delivery systems as essential strategies along with water recycling, efficiency and other features. And, the water plan must recognize the crucial importance of growing food to sustain our state's increasing population."
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of 85,000 members statewide.
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.Top