Drought solutions spark partisan debate

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

A week after President Barack Obama visited California and promised $1 billion to study the connection between the state’s drought crisis and global warming, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a $687 million plan to deliver aid to afflicted Californians.

Brown’s legislation focuses on expediting water-conservation and clean-drinking-water projects, and also provides monetary relief to out-of-work farmers.

“We must all do our part to conserve in this drought,” said Brown. “The state is doing its part.”

But conservative leadership continues to call for accountability on the State Water Agency, which announced it would not be delivering water to Kern County, despite collecting $73 million for the promised delivery.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy states that the drought could have been prevented, and that state officials need to act immediately to reverse the effects of misguided policies that place the lives of delta smelt above that of humans.

He also states that these policies have also led the state to divert good water into the ocean. “Since 2007, we’ve discarded enough for the annual water needs for every resident of Los Angeles, New York and Chicago combined,” said McCarthy. “Why would we send it to the ocean when we could store it for an inevitable drought?”

“In the short term, the governor’s emergency drought legislation would provide some relief to the drought-stricken areas of the state,” said State Sen. Jean Fuller.

“However, this drought should serve as a wakeup call that a long-term comprehensive water plan is overdue. Efforts build new storage and modernize the state’s water system should not be delayed.”

“This has gone on too long. We did not have to be in this situation we are in today,” said McCarthy.

He said that the House passed a bill that restores the 1994 agreement, which he characterized as an appropriate balance between protecting the environment and delivery of the water necessary to grow food. However, the bill died when the Senate ignored the issue.

“Now, with Californians facing the worst drought in a century, the time for politics has passed. It’s time for the Senate to act.”

A petition urging Senate action is being hosted at mccarthyforcongress.com.

Story First Published: 2014-02-26