California Lawmakers Ask Governor to Fund More Water Storage Amid Drought

By Sarah Le
Sarah Le
Sarah Le
reporter
Sarah Le is a reporter and editor for The Epoch Times in Southern California. She covers important general interest news events and topics in the state of California and the United States. She lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles.
September 5, 2021 Updated: September 6, 2021

Eight lawmakers from California’s Central Valley are urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to dedicate more resources toward improved water infrastructure during the state’s unprecedented drought.

The lawmakers claim the state is suffering from “the state’s lack of planning for long-term water storage.”

“It has been over two months since the state’s budget was signed into law, and yet it still lacks any drought assistance. Our water storage and conveyance systems are crumbling. It was not designed to accommodate 39 million people and environmental needs. While snowpack and precipitation levels dwindle, we need to maximize our water capture and storage infrastructure,” the Sept. 3 letter reads.

A total of 50 out of California’s 58 counties are now under a drought state of emergency declared by the governor, and the lawmakers say the Central Valley counties have been hit the hardest, “as they endure exceptional and record drought conditions,” the letter states.

“Fields are left to fallow forcing families, businesses, and farmers to put their livelihoods at risk with incredible uncertainty as to the future of their water supply.”

Around 75 percent of California’s irrigated land is in the Central Valley, where a quarter of the country’s food and 40 percent of the country’s fruits, nuts, and other table foods are grown.

The letter was signed by state Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Kern County), Sens. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno), and Assemblymen Jim Patterson (R- Fresno), Devon Mathis (R-Porterville), Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals), and Heath Flora (R-Ripon).

“While your administration negotiates the final pieces of a water infrastructure budget package, we respectfully request careful and favorable consideration of increased funding for strong water infrastructure to create a reliable water supply for the Central Valley,” the letter states.

In response, a spokesperson for the governor’s office told The Epoch Times via email, “The Administration’s discussions with the Legislature on budget proposals to bolster water reliability and resilience are ongoing, [and] we don’t have details to share at this time.”

“Governor Newsom has proposed to advance $5.1 billion over four years to support immediate drought response and long-term water resilience, including $2.1 billion which was allocated this summer, to ensure that California has the water infrastructure it needs to grapple with more extreme seasons of wet and dry.”

Meanwhile, other groups are pushing back against emergency measures taken by the state to mitigate the drought.

On Sept. 1, three California water districts sued (pdf) the State Water Resources Control Board for curtailing water use in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed last month.

The districts claim they have the appropriate water rights to divert water from the San Joaquin river for irrigation and that those rights cannot be taken away “without due process of law.”

“Curtailing water rights has an impact on livelihoods and economies, but it is painfully necessary as severe drought conditions this year and next could threaten health, safety and the environment,” said Erik Ekdahl, Deputy Director of the Division of Water Rights in a statement (pdf).

Sarah Le
Sarah Le
reporter
Sarah Le is a reporter and editor for The Epoch Times in Southern California. She covers important general interest news events and topics in the state of California and the United States. She lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles.