Friday, January 13, 2017
The recent storms in California have brought some relief to families and farmers suffering from the water crisis. Reservoirs are filling up for the first time in years, while the snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas has increased significantly.
And yet, those who are rushing to declare an end to the crisis are acting on little besides hope. The problems that caused the crisis—laws and environmental regulations that restrict pumping and mandate huge water flows be flushed into the ocean—all remain unchanged. As long as we get record-breaking rainstorms indefinitely, we'll be on the road to recovery. But if the weather eventually reverts to its usual pattern—and it's a safe bet it will—then we'll see that our solution was just a short respite.
I'm unwilling to stand aside and hope for everlasting rain, so I am continuing the fight to end the destructive regulations that favor fish over families. That's the only way to permanently solve the water crisis and guarantee we will not perpetuate the government-made catastrophe the San Joaquin Valley has experienced in recent years.
In Washington, we have a much better chance to see meaningful action now that we'll soon have a president who wants to help end the crisis rather than one who'll shrug his shoulders and blame global warming. It will still be a challenge to get comprehensive legislation passed in the Senate, but there is room for cautious optimism.
We've already started our work in the House of Representatives with the introduction of Rep. David Valadao's new water bill, the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017 (H.R. 23). Supported by the entire Republican California delegation, the bill would repeal the most damaging regulations causing the water crisis and would clear the way for crucial new water storage projects.
Representatives of water agencies and agriculture groups were in Washington this week, but they seemed to think the recent rains were cause for a victory dance. Most didn't advocate for the new water bill to members of the House and Senate, or educate members about the dire situation still facing the Valley—that is, unless we resolve our 2.5 million acre foot water shortfall, then a million acres of farmland will have to come out of production. A month of rain, unfortunately, will not change that.
Make no mistake—the fight for water continues. I hope the water agencies and agriculture groups understand that completely.