Trump visits Kern County

President weighs in on state water crisis

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Trump visits Kern CountyPresident Donald Trump signed a memorandum to improve the Central Valley’s access to water during a visit to Bakersfield on Wednesday afternoon.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy flew to his hometown with the president. The entourage was greeted by a crowd of thousands that included farmers, county leaders, elected officials and supporters (along with a handful of protesters staged nearby).

“We know that this country was built with farmers,” said McCarthy. “We know we need security in our food. And we know we need a Washington that works for us, not the other way around.”

For years, California has been embroiled in controversy over a water crisis that many claim is driven not by a shortage, but by poor management. Water from the perpetually flooded land in Northern California has been dumped into the San Francisco Bay while farmers who paid for water were denied their allocations.

“After decades of failures and delays in ensuring critical water access for the people of the state, we are determined to finally get your problem solved.

“For too long authorities have needlessly flushed millions and millions of gallons of fresh, beautiful, clean water from up north straight into the Pacific Ocean … on the basis of old science, obsolete studies and overbearing regulations that had not been updated in many, many years and sometimes for decades,” Trump said during his address.

“The resulting miscalculation and misallocation of water helped turn natural droughts into manmade catastrophes.”

The Trump administration, in 2018, used updated scientific research and biological opinions to help determine fair water allocations in California, he said.

“A major obstacle to providing more water for the region’s farmers has been totally eliminated by the federal government.”

Going forward, he said, the latest science and most advanced technology will be employed to monitor and adjust water distribution in real time, ensuring that the environment remains protected while directing as much water as possible.

That will result in “a magnificent amount, a massive amount of water, for the use of California farmers and ranchers in all of these communities that are suffering from a lack of water.”

“By keeping his word to farmers, President Trump has shown his commitment to securing a safe and reliable food supply for American families,” said State Sen. Shannon Grove, who was also in attendance.

“This is an opportunity for [Gov. Gavin Newsom] and the president to work together to support California’s farmers and families by investing in sound water projects. When water flows, food grows.

“Our farmers must have access to the water they need to ensure food security for American families,” she said.

“One of the necessities for the long-term success and economic health of the Central Valley is having a safe, reliable and adequate water supply for our communities, farmers, ranchers and families,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong.

“Because of the leadership and actions of President Trump and Congressman McCarthy, we have the opportunity to get more water using adaptive management and the best science.

“We now need Governor Newsom to follow suit and also provide needed water supplies for our state water projects including the Central Valley — both the state and feds must do their parts to ensure that California is fundamentally strong and that we can continue to grow and feed not only California but our nation and the world.”

Newsom responded later that day that he intends to “file legal action in the coming days” to protect the fish species that are threatened by the pumps in Northern California that deliver water to the southern half of the state.

Because the Indian Wells Valley groundwater basin is not impacted by Central Valley water, it is unclear whether Trump’s memorandum will have any bearing on the state-mandated groundwater sustainability plan adopted earlier this year by the IWV Groundwater Authority.

Trump’s visit was also attended by members of the Ridgecrest City Council and staff, along with other representatives of local agencies.

During Wednesday night’s council meeting, which was delayed to allow members to return to Ridgecrest, Councilman Scott Hayman said that benefits to the IWV at this point are “pure optimism,” but that the action was a “step in the right direction” for California.

Pictured: President Donald Trump and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, from right, address the crowd while attendees (foreground) capture the moment. — Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2020-02-21