In December 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued what is known as a “biological opinion” imposing water reductions on the San Joaquin Valley and environs to safeguard the federally protected hypomesus transpacificus, a.k.a., the delta smelt. As a result, tens of billions of gallons of water from mountains east and north of Sacramento was channelled away from farmers and into the ocean, leaving hundreds of thousands of acres of arable land fallow or scorched.
Democrats created a dust bowl based on junk science.
A federal judge ruled on in December 2010 that the liberal study that forced California officials to cutback on water to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta was based on faulty science.
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1837, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act because the bill would unravel decades of work to forge consensus, solutions, and settlements that equitably address some of California’s most complex water challenges.
H.R. 1837 would undermine five years of collaboration between local, State, and Federal stakeholders to develop the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan. It would codify 20-year old, outdated science as the basis for managing California’s water resources, resulting in inequitable treatment of one group of water users over another. And, contrary to 100 years of reclamation law that exhibits congressional deference to State water law, the bill would preempt California water law.
The bill also would reject the long-standing principle that beneficiaries should pay both the cost of developing water supplies and of mitigating any resulting development impacts, and would exacerbate current water shortages by repealing water pricing reforms that provide incentives for contractors to conserve water supplies.
Finally, H.R. 1837 would repeal the San Joaquin River Settlement Agreement, which the Congress enacted to resolve 18 years of contentious litigation. Repeal of the settlement agreement would likely result in the resumption of costly litigation, creating an uncertain future for river restoration and water delivery operations for all water users on the San Joaquin River.
The Administration strongly supports efforts to provide a more reliable water supply for California and to protect, restore, and enhance the overall quality of the Bay-Delta environment. The Administration has taken great strides toward achieving these co-equal goals through a coordinated Federal Action Plan, which has strengthened collaboration between Federal agencies and the State of California while achieving solid results. Unfortunately, H.R. 1837 would undermine these efforts and the progress that has been made. For this reason, were the Congress to pass H.R. 1837, the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
Here are the facts on California’s Central Valley, via the Natural Resources Committee:
** California’s water storage and transportation system designed by federal and state governments includes 1,200 miles of canals and nearly 50 reservoirs that provide water to about 22 million people and irrigate about four million acres of land throughout the state.
** In May 2007, a Federal District Court Judge ruled that increased amounts of water had to be re-allocated towards protecting the Delta smelt – a three-inch fish on the Endangered Species List.
** Because of this ruling, in 2009 and 2010 more than 300 billion gallons (or 1 million acre-feet) of water were diverted away from farmers in the Central Valley and into the San Francisco Bay – eventually going out into the Pacific Ocean.
** This man-made drought cost thousands of farm workers their jobs, inflicted up to 40 percent unemployment in certain communities, and fallowed hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile farmland.
** Unemployment remains at a regional average of 17%. With current precipitation at near-record lows, the same regulations will be imposed pushing unemployment even higher.
** The Pelosi-led Congress did nothing to reverse the plight of the San Joaquin Valley and even obstructed repeated Republican actions to reverse the situation. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act reflects Republican promises to avoid another man-made drought.