Congressman Devin Nunes (Visalia) was absent from yesterday’s second hearing on his bill HR 1837, which reduced the acrimonious rhetoric that was unleashed on the California fishing community at the first hearing on the bill and later on Delta farmers on the Families Protecting the Valley website. According to Nunes, the problem with California water is:
“Delta farmers have been able to hide from reality on their islands, fishermen have filled their pockets with tax dollars, and radical environmentalists have assumed greater control over the state’s water.”
In truth, Nunes’s HR 1837, named the San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act, could be easily renamed the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Full Pumping Act. Sold to the public as a job creation bill, HR 1837 would deal an economic and environmental deathblow to Delta communities and coastal fisheries.
HR 1837 would:
Subjugate State water rights law to Federal law, overturning 120 years of legal standing. (Meaning that junior water rights holders like Westside valley growers would move ahead of Northern California farmers when allocations are made for water deliveries in California.)
HR 1837 would:
Set the 1994 Bay-Delta Accord as the stand for deciding how much water can be pumped from the Delta. (Meaning that the flow recommendations made earlier this year to the State Water Resources Control Board for restoring flows to the Delta would be left as a report to collect dust on a shelf. We would go back to levels of pumping that nearly finished off fisheries this decade.)
And HR 1837 would:
Undo the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement. (The San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement took twenty years to produce and is one part of what is needed to restore South Delta water quality. Also, the idea that this settlement could be reversed is once again proof of how promises made to the Delta community are never kept, i.e. pumping surplus water only, screening the pumps at Tracy, water exporters mitigating environmental damage to the Delta.)
As reported on Alex Breitler’s blog with The Record, the Delta was represented this time by John Herrick, General Manager with the South Delta Water Agency. Herrick explained that HR 1837 would take away responsibility from those who export water for the health of the estuary. Herrick also explained with great clarity how HR 1837 would disrupt water rights law in California.
It is worth noting that Water and Power Subcommittee Chair Tom McClintock (Elk Grove), who had to grant this follow-up hearing, called it a “waste of time.” It seems that Congressman McClintock is confused about whom he represents.
Why would he ignore the water needs of Northern California farmers and fishermen who live in his district to ensure water deliveries for Westside valley growers and Southern California water exporters? We leave that to our readers to answer for themselves.
(To read Alex Breitler’s blog click here.)