Emergency drought bill another water grab

By Mike Thompson and Doris Matsui

California has an innovative history. We solve big problems and the results have ripple effects all over the world. But when it comes to water policy, we’re unable to make progress.

Unfortunately, the latest proposal made by some California members of Congress makes progress even more difficult.

They claim their proposal (H.R. 3964) will help alleviate the drought and lessen California’s water problems. In reality, it’s nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to use the statewide drought as an excuse to steal water from Northern California.

Proponents of this idea argue that we should immediately pump unlimited amounts of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for south-of-Delta agriculture.

This argument ignores several important facts. First, it will not help alleviate the drought. Even if we pumped as much water south as possible, Central Valley farmers still wouldn’t have enough. That’s because a lack of pumping isn’t the problem. The problem is the lack of rain and snow. There is no more water to pump. Northern California is in a severe drought, with reservoirs less than 50 percent full.

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