Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a revised drought relief water bill that puts California one step closer to comprehensive water policy reform, according to California Citrus Mutual (CCM) President Joel Nelsen.
“The introduction of the California Long-Term Provisions for Water Supply and Short-Term Provisions for Emergency Drought Relief Act by Senator Dianne Feinstein identifies several paths by which California can improve its water infrastructure and create a more reliable water system for all water users,” says Nelsen. “Everybody wants something. Most want to help people and the environment as well as sustain the production of food and fiber. But, the stakeholders who are singularly focused have been an impediment to improving California’s water crisis.”
The bill contains language to create short-term solutions for existing problems and focuses on the vibrant future for California’s water policy.
Over two years ago CCM made water a priority following a historical zero surface water allocation for Central Valley Water Project water users, namely growers in the Friant service area. Challenges also persist in Southern California which requires attention at the federal level. “CCM was closely involved with the State Water Bond negotiations and advocated for stronger language and dollars to assist citrus growers in Southern California and Monterey County, for example,” continues Nelsen. “It was a natural next step that we seek federal movement toward a balanced water policy.”
“Does this bill give us everything we want? Not by a long shot. However, it is a very necessary and positive step toward a policy that both protects the integrity of the Endangered Species Act biological opinions and clarifies where flexibility could exist in the storage and movement of water,” says Nelsen.
Nelsen and CCM Board Chairman Kevin Severns are currently in Washington, D.C. to advocate on behalf of California’s $3 billion citrus industry that Congress act now to address California’s water crisis.
“A silent disaster is taking place,” says Chairman Kevin Severns. “It’s clear Senator Feinstein is willing to work with the House to negotiate a water bill that benefits all California water users.”
Nelsen and Severns met with Senator Feinstein today along with executives from Wonderful Citrus and Sunkist to discuss the bill. “It is promising, and Senator Feinstein has every interest in getting something done for California water security once and for all,” says Nelsen.
CCM in conjunction with other like-minded entities will now work to help move this package through the Senate, hopefully as part of a Western Water Bill, and then seek House supporters. “More good ideas could materialize and we’re willing to listen to the Senator, but those that seek to impede achievement under the guise of ‘helping’ must be held accountable for placing California’s future in jeopardy,” concludes Nelsen.