Legislators and organizations react to news of 0% allocation for State Water Project water
(Note: To have your organization's response included here, please email me. I will update this post at the end of the day with any additional responses received. I had some mailbox issues yesterday, so please resend if it's not here. –Maven.)
From Tim Quinn at the Association of California Water Agencies:
“Today’s unprecedented announcement means that for the first time in history, the 25 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland that rely on the State Water Project face the prospect of getting no water from the project this year.
“Water agencies around the state are taking action to deal with this historic drought situation. Specific measures will depend on local conditions and water supply sources, but all will do their part to reduce water use and stretch supplies.
“Fortunately, we can – and will – come together as a state to respond to this statewide crisis. Water leaders in every part of the state are uniting in support of the governor’s call for heightened conservation and cooperation to assist those areas in greatest need.
“As we manage the crisis this year, we also need to advance a comprehensive plan such as that proposed by the governor to improve water supply reliability statewide. This is a moment of crisis, but also of a moment of opportunity.”
From Governor Jerry Brown:
“Today’s action is a stark reminder that California’s drought is real. We’re taking every possible step to prepare the state for the continuing dry conditions we face.”
When Governor Brown declared a drought State of Emergency earlier this month, he directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages. This week, CAL FIRE announced it hired 125 additional firefighters to help address the increased fire threat due to drought conditions, the California Department of Public Health identified and offered assistance to communities at risk of severe drinking water shortages and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife restricted fishing on some waterways due to low water flows worsened by the drought. Also this week, the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Food and Agriculture also released the California Water Action Plan, which will guide state efforts to enhance water supply reliability, restore damaged and destroyed ecosystems and improve the resilience of our infrastructure.
Governor Brown has called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent and the Save Our Water campaign has announced four new public service announcements that encourage residents to conserve. Last December, the Governor formed a Drought Task Force to review expected water allocations and California’s preparedness for water scarcity. In May 2013, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order to direct state water officials to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water.”
From the California Farm Bureau Federation:
California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger called the State Water Project announcement “a terrible blow” but not unexpected, given the relentless drought punishing California.
“Under current conditions, we expect hundreds of thousands of acres of land in the Central Valley to go unplanted,” Wenger said. “That will cause severe economic problems in our rural regions—loss of jobs and economic activity, with all the heartache that entails.”
Like many Californians, he said, farmers and ranchers have improved water use efficiency significantly in the years since the previous record drought of 1977. Since 1980, for example, the amount of water applied to agricultural land in California has gone down 24 percent while tonnage of crop production has increased 34 percent.
“We’re consistently achieving more crop per drop. But greater efficiency can only go so far, and when water allocations drop, oftentimes the only choice for farmers is to reduce production. Farmers will face many difficult choices in coming weeks,” Wenger said. … ”
From Lester Snow, Executive Director of the California Water Foundation:
“The reality is, this could be just the beginning of a long-term drought, and we need to prepare for that scenario.
“California needs to rethink how we manage water supplies in the state, including expanding local water supplies, increasing stormwater capture, advancing water recycling projects and changing our approach to groundwater management.
“Innovation, collaboration and creativity are going to be critical as we look at water supply solutions going forward. It’s not just about water coming out of the tap in our homes–water supply solutions need to be aimed at preserving agriculture, building sustainable cities for generations to come and protecting California’s natural resources.”
From Senator Jean Fuller:
“No doubt we are heading into uncharted territory and are past the point of crisis. California has declared a drought emergency, and now the President must act to provide additional relief to the millions of people impacted by this historic drought.
“Now is the time for action and all available water must be used effectively. Ensuring farmers have enough water to grow food is critical. The economics of this drought will be felt in the Valley, as well as California, and in numerous sectors of the economy.”
From the Kern County Water Agency:
““A zero allocation is catastrophic and woefully inadequate for Kern County residents, farms and businesses, and it provides no hope for replenishment of groundwater banking reserves that have been tapped to provide agricultural and urban water during previous dry years,” said Kern County Water Agency (Agency) Board of Directors President Ted Page. … “We urge the continued effort of Governor Brown and state and federal officials to become directly involved in this dire situation,” said Page. “Coordinated efforts are critical to maximize and optimize California’s very limited water resources this year, and to solve the long-term water crisis facing the state.” … ”
From Restore the Delta and others:
“Instead of operating in a manner that plans for regular droughts, the State Water Projects deplete storage under the theory that they should ‘take it while it’s there,’ and they thereby make the dry year shortages even worse. This past year the State pumped over 800 thousand acre-feet (TAF) more than it had promised, making the water shortage worse, and compliance with water quality and fishery standards impossible,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parilla.
Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, said, “The present crisis could have been avoided, and is a direct result of egregious mismanagement of the state’s water supply system by the state and federal water projects. Excessive water exports and the failure to prepare for inevitable drought have created a decades-long disaster for fisheries, and placed the people and economic prosperity of northern California at grave risk. The State’s obsession with tunneling under the Delta does nothing to address drought, or put us on a path to correct the misuse of limited water supplies.”
John Herrick, Restore the Delta board member and Counsel and Manager of the South Delta Water Agency, said, “The failure of the State Water Projects to plan ahead contributed to the current water shortage. Last winter and spring the projects were concerned about not having enough water to meet fishery or agricultural standards, and so sought changes in their permits to allow for the relaxation of those standards. At the same time, they projected the amount of water available for export. As soon as the projections were released, they began to pump MORE water than they projected; thus taking the water needed for fish and endangering future allocations for all purposes. If this had not been allowed, the reservoirs would have 800+ TAF more storage in them than they currently do.”
Read more from Restore the Delta, plus other statements in response to other comments made by Jerry Brown in this press release here: Gov. Brown Sings from Mega-Growers’ Hymnal, Tries to Bully Federal Scientists into Approving Tunnels, State Mismanagement of Water Helped Cause Shortage
From Richard Atwater at the Southern California Water Committee:
“We’re in uncharted territory—never in history have our water agencies faced the prospect of getting absolutely no water from the Sierras. Southern California has invested in local supplies, conserved a considerable amount of water and explored innovative solutions to long-standing water challenges, but now it’s time to tighten our belts even more. No matter how much water you use, it’s time to use less.”
From the State Water Contractors:
“For the first time in history, we are facing the real possibility of getting no water from the State Water Project—it’s a very serious situation,” said Terry Erlewine, general manager of the State Water Contractors. “Each of our water agencies will handle the drought differently depending on their circumstances, but across the board water districts are ramping up conservation and efficiency efforts to go beyond the conservation achievements already made.” …
Despite conservation and efficiency efforts, California should still be prepared for the impacts of a zero percent allocation and the ongoing drought. While some areas will be hit harder than others, farming regions will likely face some of the more significant impacts as they are forced to fallow otherwise productive farmland. Water agencies normally receiving SWP supplies will also have less money to respond to the drought because they must still pay the state for the water system even though they will not receive any water from it. …
Read the full statement here: ZeroAllocation_1 31 14 FINAL
From Senator Andy Vidak:
“A zero percent water allocation for our Valley is catastrophic! We need the pumps turned on now for immediate relief and a water bond on the November ballot that fully funds water storage to protect us in the future.
The affected areas in Vidak's Senate District 16 are:
- Tulare Lake Water Storage District
- Kern County Water Agency
- Empire Westside Irrigation District
- Kings County
- Dudley Ridge Water District
These five areas, which requested 1.1 million acre-feet of water, will not get a drop of water.”