Balance Key to State Water Management

Taylor Hillman Drought, Water

Oroville California Dam
Citrus leaders, like many other industry leaders, are bringing up the balance issue in the state’s water management— an issue that will be increasing in conversation as we move through spring.

Balance Key to State Water Management

California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelson says Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s current water bill proposal will need support to get passed. “We have worked with the Senate leadership on the Republican side about moving a western water bill,” Nelson says. “We have got to have a vehicle that perhaps doesn’t create a lot of water for specific areas of the the state, but creates some water for a lot of areas of California, and more importantly, creates a balance for whatever water is available.”

Balance is they key term when talking about water management and movement. Nelson says there isn’t a fix-all for the state’s water system and there needs to be a small change to start the process. He says balance is the key and he feels the scales are shifted more toward one side than the other. “The challenge that we have is that the fish agencies need to work in harmony with the bureau of reclamation that allocates the water,” Nelson says. “The fish agencies have become the first amongst equals and the balance is out of whack.”

Nelson said he has had discussions with those agencies and the two sides are not on the same page. “We sat down with the western regional director at the National Marine Fisheries Service and it wasn’t a pleasant conversation,” Nelson said. “She thinks she is doing what is necessary for her agency and we said there are unattended consequences. When I’ve got growers that have modernized blocks of fruit like lemons and Cara Cara oranges selling out, that tells me that they’re not optimistic about the future and it’s associated with the water allocation. She didn’t like hearing that; she doesn’t feel like she is part of the problem and we agree to disagree.”