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    Mar 27 2014

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    This just in … Senator Feinstein and Valley Congressmembers call on Administration to take immediate action to capture water from latest storm

    letter mailboxSenator Feinstein, along with Congressmembers Ken Calvert, Jim Costa, Jeff Denham, Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and David Valadao have written a letter to Secretary Sally Jewell and Secretary Penny Pritzker, backing the exchange contractors request and asking them to evaluate the operating criteria for the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project in order to capture the maximum amount of runoff possible from this week's storm that is passing through.

    The extremely low water allocations to agriculture will have severe imapcts, while so far, the numbers of take of listed species at the pumps are 0 or minimal, the letter states.  “These numbers show that existing protections for endangered fish are more than adequate.  On the other hand, our constituents' farms and communities are facing potential devastation.  From our view, it is apparent that there is significant imbalance of regulatory burdens,” the letter says.

    A disaster of great magnitude has been unfolding in our communities, the letter says.  Since the state's drought declaration, there have been only two major storms, and based on historical weather patterns, these storms could be the last chance.

    We understand that your Departments have to consider other factors, such as salinity levels in the Delta and the need for pulse flows.  Still, this latest data strongly suggests that there is significant leeway for the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service to alter current water operations to benefit water users without risking jeopardy to protected species,” the letter says.

    This latest rain storm is occurring as we speak.  You have authority under the law and, we assert, the obligation, to immediately take advantage of the rare, and likely the last, opportunity this year to capture and move water to bring relief to millions of Californians, and to mitigate the large-scale drought disaster that has struck our State.  We urge you in the strongest terms to take action without delay,” the legislators say.

    Read the full letter here: California Lawmakers Call on Administration to Take Immediate Action to Capture Water from Latest Storm

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      1. tsac0008

        As public water supply consumers we have become accustomed to increasingly higher water rates and will no doubt suffer again during this drought. Can the same be said for agriculture? California agriculture uses over 80% of all of California’s water and is responsible for over 90% of anthropogenic caused contamination. While Ag is to be commended for increasing its irrigation efficiency, it has expanded ag acreage well beyond its rational limits. Desert regions and areas known for its toxic soils are being farmed and new permanent crops with high water demands have replaced previous dryland farming. This is incompatible with California’s water metrics.

        Farming in the past has always been known to be seasonal and subject to the whims of nature but always based upon practicalities. What has happened to form such a sense of entitlement that we now see expressed and where did this right to farm anywhere at any cost to the environment and the public come from? It is my belief that growing crops in a desert that require a minimum of 50 inches of water a year should be illegal and that overdrafting groundwater to the detriment of others should be a crime. Growing food can be done without contaminating or overdrafting our groundwater supply. The greed of the agricultural/industrial complex needs to be reigned in responsibly and eliminating agriculture in the toxic desert regions and where soils are naturally contaminated with heavy metals seems like an appropriate first priority.

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