… Since 1970 we’ve experienced four statewide droughts, and currently, we’re clearly in the midst of another.
… there’s no question that sufficient water storage and good management of the water supply is critical in California. We need to capture water in wet years, store it for dry years, and have the ability to move it around the state when it’s needed. Yet, when it comes to spending on water infrastructure, the Legislative Democrats have refused to make the necessary investments.
Voters passed Proposition 1 in 2014. Out of the $7.2 billion allocated for “water,” about $2.7 billion was dedicated specifically for water storage projects. However, due to red tape, a lack of additional funding, and environmental pushback, seven years later, not a single project approved for funding has been completed.
The truth is, California hasn’t completed a major water storage project of statewide significance since New Melones Dam in the late 1970s. … Since 1996, voters have approved more than $27 billion in natural resource general obligation bonds. Over that time, only the $2.7 billion contained in Prop. 1 was dedicated to water storage, and to date, not a drop of water has been stored. Without substantial new investments in infrastructure, California will remain in a state of perpetual drought.
Despite this, members of the State Water Resources Board, who are appointees of Governors Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom, have approved emergency regulations temporarily barring thousands of farmers from pulling water from the rivers and streams of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed.
As a representative of the Central Valley, I’ve appealed to the water board and explained the devastating effect this curtailment would have on communities that depend on access to the watershed and have urged them to reconsider. … With the Central Valley producing a quarter of the nation’s food, this decision will have a devastating impact on both the nearby communities and the entire global food chain.
If the board wants action, perhaps it should consider the illegal diversion and theft of water going to the estimated 24,000 illegal cannabis farms on federal, state, local and private lands. Water theft has reached record levels this year, largely attributed to illegal grow operations.
Drought has long been a part of life in California, yet the majority party continues to ignore the problem and instead, enacts more policies that limit water supply to cities and farms, while dedicating more water to the environment and requiring people to conserve even more. …
California needs to complete the major water storage projects partially funded by Proposition 1 and make significant new investments in water storage and conveyance that will provide a sufficient water supply for our families and farmers. California will continue to face water shortages for years to come if Governor Newsom doesn’t act now. I will never stop fighting for the water rights of all Californians, especially for our Central Valley families.
Click here to read the entire Op-ed as published in the Bakersfield Californian.