It seems Governor Newsom has found a way to outfox the Feds. Unfortunately, it further reduces the amount of water that goes to California’s Farmers.
This all began some years ago when the state cut the amount of water delivered to the Central Valley and to Southern California for ‘environmental’ reasons. Those reasons were first explained as an effort to preserve fish in the delta, but later, we learned the ‘environmental’ reasons had a financial motive. For years, the cities surrounding the San Francisco Bay had failed to keep up with the times – their outdated sewer treatment facilities were allowed to pollute the bay because the Governor could just keep flushing that sewage out with water taken from the farmers.
Finally, under President Trump’s direction, the Federal government stepped in earlier this year and increased the allocations to the Central Valley and southland.
Here is where matters get complicated.
Water flows from the wet North to the dry South by way of two separate entities. The state owns and operates the State Water Project, the Feds own and operate the Central Valley Project. When the Feds recently increased water allotments through the Central Valley Project, the state has responded by cutting allotments through the State Water Project. In addition, Newsom is trying to radically change how the State project is run. He’s putting the environmentalists in control of it.
Presently, the State’s Department of Water Resources decides how much water is released in what direction, in coordination with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
However, the new system puts control of the state’s water in the hands of the environmentalists. These decisions will be made by the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.
To be clear: This gives Fish and Wildlife the final decision-making authority to restrict operations that could harm endangered species. They are already planning to take more water from the Delta to the Pacific Ocean in both the spring and summer.
If these attacks on our water supply keep up, California will have one more endangered species to protect. The California Farming industry will be dying of thirst.
About the Author
Len Wilcox is a retired scientist who also ran a newspaper and has written for agricultural publications since the 1980s. He was a regular contributor to California Farmer Magazine. His commentary “The Western View” is a regular feature on Farm City Newsday and AgNet West.