House “Drought Relief” Guts Environmental Protections, Does Not Mitigate Drought – Legislation Would Drain State Reservoirs for the Benefit of Corporate Farms:
HR 5781, a bill introduced Tuesday in the House of Representatives by Congressman David Valadao (R- Hanford), purports to solve California’s drought-induced water shortages. It will do nothing of the sort. HR 5781 is a wish list dictated by San Joaquin corporate farmers to the politicians they hold in thrall. It mandates water deliveries to all Central Valley Project and State Water Project contractors – regardless of the water available in storage. This assures “dead pools” in our reservoirs if the drought continues, meaning there will be no water available when urban ratepayers and industry need it most for basic survival. Further, the bill provides for a 30-day federal review of all projects and operations that “would provide additional water supplies.” This could ultimately result in the fast-track approval of ruinously expensive, environmentally destructive and ultimately inefficient schemes, including new dams. Finally, the bill allows for expedited water transfers, putting the ecological stability of our North State rivers and the reserves of our aquifers at risk.
“This bill will actually perpetuate our drought emergency by giving away all the water in storage to Big Ag,” said Tom Stokely, water policy analyst for the California Water Impact Network. “It will drain Trinity Lake, depleting the last cold water reserve available for Klamath and Trinity River salmon and steelhead. We’ll see fish kills that make the great die-off of 2002 look minor by comparison. No matter how you cut it, this bill is an utter disaster. We’re calling on Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to oppose this legislation in the Senate. They need to step up and protect California’s water supplies, urban ratepayers, environment, family farms and fisheries.”
Received via email: ““This is a bad deal for salmon” explained McManus. “This bill, shelved by Senator Feinstein is starting to look and act like a zombie, the backers of this bill don’t seem to understand that salmon need this water and salmon communities need their jobs.”
(Received via email.)
From Restore the Delta:
Delta Tunnel Opponents: Rep. David Valadao’s H.R. 5781 Throws Out Protections for Fisheries, Farms & Humans; Turns Up the Pumps for Westlands Growers; Central Valley Congressional Representatives seek to smother Endangered Species Protections, and Overrule Delta Smelt Biological Opinions
“Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today criticized Representative David Valadao for trying to push through a “drought relief” measure that would allow more water for Westlands’ and Kern Water Districts’ mega-growers in the midst of a severe drought. “Congressman Valadao’s bill is more of the same from this Congress which is bent on circumventing state water rights and stopping state and federal agencies from determining and implementing safe water export levels for San Francisco Bay-Delta fisheries, Delta farms, and Delta communities” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta.
“The sponsors of this legislation, Reps. David Valadao (CA-21), Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Ken Calvert (CA-42), Jim Costa (CA-16), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), and Tom McClintock CA-04), favor big industrial growers who have planted tens of thousands of acres of almonds and other permanent crops in the midst of the drought, and those who seek to profit from selling water to the detriment of Northern California rivers, groundwater supplies, and the Bay-Delta estuary,” added Barrigan-Parrilla.
Members of Congress are manipulating the impacts of drought conditions to serve wealthy special interests. They’re framing the bill as non-controversial, and bipartisan, but it would smother Endangered Species Act protections, overrule the Delta smelt biological opinions, and increase pumping from the Delta, when fisheries need flows presently to recover from the drought. “These same Congressional Representatives never consider what will be the economic impacts on the Bay-Delta economy as water quality and fisheries continue to deteriorate from decades of over pumping the Delta. They continue to exclude the 4 million residents of the Delta region, even though their economic and environmental well-being is tied to the health of the region. We are tired of their ongoing political assault on our communities,” concluded Barrigan-Parrilla.”