In an effort to avoid losing precious water in the 2015 water year (which started October 1), several California House Republicans, led by Congressman David Valadao, and bolstered by support from Democratic Congressman Jim Costa, introduced emergency legislation this week to provide short-term relief for California’s continuing water crisis.
The bill (H.R. 5781, the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014) was introduced after negotiations between the House members and Senator Dianne Feinstein on a broader bill were suddenly halted by Feinstein last week. Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif issued a letter today to the Members of the California Congressional Delegation urging support for the bill. The House is expected to vote on the bill on Monday and a Senate vote would be needed before the 113th Congress adjourns next week.
Part of Nassif’s letter reads:
“Thousands of farmers, farm workers and other families connected to our state’s agriculture industry are suffering. There are numerous Central Valley towns where faucets no longer provide water. This week state officials reported that 1.7 million acres of farmland in the Central Valley were left unplanted this year due to lack of water, while in December of 2012, 800,000 acre feet of water, some of which could have been stored, was allowed to flow out to sea. This year, from February 1 through December 1, only 1.5 million acre feet of water was pumped for farms and cities south of the Delta while 3.5 million acre feet was sent out to sea. Surely a modest adjustment could have been made to secure more of that water for the families that are now doing without.”
Western Growers will also be issuing an Action Alert tomorrow urging members to contact their respective Members of Congress to support the legislation.
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