November 3, 2014
For Immediate Release
House “Drought Relief” Guts Environmental Protections, Does Not Mitigate Drought – Legislation Would Drain State Reservoirs for the Benefit of Corporate Farms
HR 5781, a bill introduced Tuesday in the House of Representatives by Congressman David Valadao (R- Hanford), purports to solve California’s drought-induced water shortages. It will do nothing of the sort.
HR 5781 is a wish list dictated by San Joaquin corporate farmers to the politicians they hold in thrall. It mandates water deliveries to all Central Valley Project and State Water Project contractors – regardless of the water available in storage. This assures “dead pools” in our reservoirs if the drought continues, meaning there will be no water available when urban ratepayers and industry need it most for basic survival.
Further, the bill provides for a 30-day federal review of all projects and operations that “would provide additional water supplies.” This could ultimately result in the fast-track approval of ruinously expensive, environmentally destructive and ultimately inefficient schemes, including new dams.
Finally, the bill allows for expedited water transfers, putting the ecological stability of our North State rivers and the reserves of our aquifers at risk.
“This bill will actually perpetuate our drought emergency by giving away all the water in storage to Big Ag,” said Tom Stokely, water policy analyst for the California Water Impact Network. “It will drain Trinity Lake, depleting the last cold water reserve available for Klamath and Trinity River salmon and steelhead. We’ll see fish kills that make the great die-off of 2002 look minor by comparison. No matter how you cut it, this bill is an utter disaster. We’re calling on Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to oppose this legislation in the Senate. They need to step up and protect California’s water supplies, urban ratepayers, environment, family farms and fisheries.”