Today’s signing of a record of decision coordinating federal and state water projects offers a hopeful sign, according to California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson.
Johansson, who attended the ceremony in Bakersfield where President Trump announced signing of the document, said the action will add much-needed flexibility to operation of the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project. He also thanked the president for signing a memo directing federal agencies to coordinate efforts to store more water, offer regulatory certainty and improve protection of protected species.
“Farmers are optimists and this is a day for optimism,” Johansson said. “The federal agencies have taken a holistic look at the California water system and offered an alternative that promises to improve the health of the environment without devastating people whose communities and livelihoods depend on reliable water supplies.
“We should embrace this new approach and give it a chance to succeed,” he said. “We know all too well that the policies of the past 25-plus years haven’t worked.”
Johansson said better coordination and improved flexibility of federal and state water project operations would benefit people throughout California.
“Federal and state officials need to be pulling in the same direction to assure the most efficient use of California water for fish and people,” he said. “We hope people at all levels of government can cooperate on plans to enhance the environment, accommodate a growing population and maintain productive farms and ranches.”
Johansson expressed disappointment in reports indicating the state government will sue over today’s federal actions, and said solutions to California water problems will be found in constructive discussions, not in courtrooms.
“We have to get off the merry-go-round of endless litigation,” he said. “No one benefits from that. Fisheries continue to suffer. Productive farmland goes unused. It’s not a sustainable path for anyone. Farm Bureau will continue to advocate for practical, reasonable, cooperative ways to address California’s water supply needs.”