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THE SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY’S WATER WAR

Assemblyman David Valadao - July 10, 2012


[Publisher's Note: As part of an ongoing effort to bring original, thoughtful commentary to you here at the FlashReport, I am pleased to present this column from Assemblyman David Valadao who represents the 30th Assembly District. Valadao is the Republican nominee for the newly drawn 21st Congressional District.   -- Flash]
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Today, America’s most fertile, vibrant, and productive agricultural valley is withering away due to a man-made drought. Don’t believe it? Look at California’s own San Joaquin Valley, where policies enacted by radical environmentalists in Sacramento and Washington have driven up water prices and drastically reduced water supplies for Valley farmers. Families who have worked these lands for generations are plowing under their fields and selling out to developers as faceless bureaucrats regulate farming out of existence in our nation’s breadbasket.

Our local farmers depend on water delivered from the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, east of the San Francisco Bay. There, powerful pumps divert the water into canals and aqueducts, directing hundreds of billions of gallons south for use by the west side of the Central Valley and various agricultural communities. This infrastructure is called the Central Valley Project (CVP), a 1933 federal project under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Interior that operates in partnership with the California State Water Project. For decades this project transported water at efficient costs to the San Joaquin Valley, laying the foundation for a prosperous agricultural economy.

However, the water deliveries have not expanded to match California’s population growth. This problem has been compounded by environmental extremists; prioritizing fish over farmers, they blamed the CVP for declining numbers of delta smelt, a three-inch bait fish in the San Joaquin Delta. Ignoring many other relevant factors such as predation by invasive species and toxic pollutants, the extremists exploited the delta smelt issue in order to cut the Valley’s water supply.

President Obama’s Department of the Interior has stood by silently through all this, and has even helped to empower the extremists who are wreaking havoc on the region’s economy. In many towns in the Valley, water shortages have pushed unemployment rates as high as 40 percent. Even in the past year when California enjoyed near-record rainfall levels, farmers only received 80 percent of their supply under contract; experts worry this number could plunge to 10 percent in a severe drought year.

The federal government has undoubtedly failed the San Joaquin Valley, and it’s time we do something about it. I believe the best way to provoke action in Washington is for the Valley to send a farmer there to represent us and work towards common sense solutions. That’s why I am running for Congress in California’s 21st District. As a Hanford dairy farmer and small business owner, I intend to speak out emphatically for the Valley’s concerns in Washington, including the restoration of our right to use our own water.

As I travel the district over the next few months, I look forward to hearing ideas from local farmers and policymakers about how to protect and expand Valley jobs, increase the quality of life in our communities and bring common sense back to government.

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Assemblyman David Valadao, a dairy farmer from the San Joaquin Valley, currently represents California’s 30th district, which includes Kings County, and portions of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties. He is also a candidate for U.S. Congress in California’s newly drawn 21st district, for more information please visit www.valadaoforcongress.com.