Dear Jim Costa
It is clear the 'fix' is in unless Congressmen like you speak up loudly and clearly.
May 27, 2014
When Senator Dianne Feinstein's Emergency Drought Bill passed the Senate last week, we received a note from Scott Petersen who is on Congressman Costa's staff. He sent us the Congressman's statement regarding the passage of the bill and asked for ideas for the compromise committee. This letter is the reply from Kole Upton, who is on several water boards listed at the conclusion of his letter. Kole is also a board member of Families Protecting the Valley. Below Kole's letter is the statement from Jim Costa.
Congressman Costa and Scott:
Per Scott's e-mail below, permit me to offer an idea on the drought legislation. As a veteran, give me some slack on this day while I attempt to relay the view of many of the farmers and other constituents of the 16th Congressional District (C.D.).
Although you voted for the Valadao Bill, you have made it clear that you do not currently support the reformation of the San Joaquin River Settlement contained in the bill. Now that the George Millers and Jared Huffmans of the world are claiming that the sky will fall if anything other than the current Feinstein bill is passed, it is clear the 'fix' is in unless Congressmen like you speak up loudly and clearly.
Objective observers have already concluded that the current salmon restoration effort is a failure, and there is no prospect for it to be successful because:
1. Climate warming data clearly indicate that the water of the flat, wide San Joaquin River will be too hot for salmon to survive as a self-sustaining salmon fishery.
2. The 2nd co-equal goal of Water Management (i.e., the East Side getting its water back) is clearly unachievable because of regulatory and environmental issues continually pursued by the environmental community.
3. The Federal Government does not have the money to finish the required improvements necessary for the salmon fishery or the return of the water, and there is no prospect for getting those funds.
Therefore, we can continue this failed experiment to pander to the environmental community and their legislative allies while many Valley farm families lose their heritage and future, or we can fashion a compromise that provides a live river without salmon. This would save the East Side, and this is precisely what the Valadao Bill does.
If you look at the attached map of the 16th C.D., you can see that the Chowchilla Water District is right in the middle. Further, it is a Friant Contractor and firmly behind the Valadao Bill. Other districts in the 16th C.D. having a similar view of this legislation are the LeGrand-Athlone Water District, and the Merced County S.O.I. (Sphere of Influence) Water users Association.
In addition, the San Joaquin Exchange Contractors are a major part of the 16th C.D., and they have already communicated their feelings about the Settlement as it is currently implemented, and its detrimental effect on them.
The second attachment is a clue as to the next target by the environmental community. It is the Exchange Contractors and their long standing pre-1914 water rights. Having sat across the table from the environmentalists for four years during the S.J. River Settlement negotiations, I can tell you they have been looking for this opportunity for decades. They think they now have it with the Bureau giving Friant a zero allocation, and sending the water to the refuges and the Exchange Contractors. The next step will be to demand that the refuges and other environmental needs come ahead of the Exchange Contractors.
As you can see, Friant users will soon be in third place at best. It is imperative that we get the Valadao part of his bill regarding S.J. Restoration enacted as part of the compromise bill. We are painfully aware that some other Friant users are fearful of a judge taking action. However, as a recently retired judge informed water users several years ago, do not blame the judges for ruling in accordance with passed laws. If different results are desired, then legislators need to change the laws.
This is the opportunity. We appreciate your efforts to be a consensus builder etc., but the time has come for the S.J. River Settlement to be revised. This is our water coming out of Madera and Fresno Counties.
Why should Bay Area politicians get to use our water for their dubious and failed environmental projects while the Valley and its citizens suffer?
We ask that you use your influence to ensure that a Settlement revision is part of the final water bill.
Chairman, Chowchilla Water District (CWD)
Chairman, Merced County SOI Water Users Association
Director, LeGrand-Athlone Water District
Director, Madera Chowchilla Water and Power Authority
Director, City of Chowchilla, Red-Top Conservation District, and CWD JPA
In light of yesterday's passage of the Feinstein-Costa bill through the Senate, the Congressman wanted to make sure that you all had seen the statement about next steps. Please contact me with any ideas or thoughts on items for inclusion in compromised legislation.
Thanks and we look forward to working with all of you to bring this to a successful conclusion.
COSTA RESPONDS TO PASSAGE OF SENATE DROUGHT LEGISLATION
Fresno, Calif. -- Congressman Jim Costa responded today to the passage of the Emergency Drought Relief Act, sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Costa also announced a media availability tomorrow at 10am at his Fresno District Office to discuss the passage of the legislation and next steps.
"Today's passage by the U.S. Senate of the Emergency Drought Relief Act marks another important milestone towards legislation that will provide meaningful relief and increased reliability of water supplies to our Valley. I commend the hard work of Senator Feinstein and the support of Senator Boxer in moving this bill out of the Senate.
"The drought has had devastating social and economic impacts to the people of our Valley," Costa said. "Every day, I have been working on a bipartisan basis with my colleagues as well as the Administration in both Washington and Sacramento to bring short term relief and long term solutions to our water needs.
"This significant breakthrough by Senator Feinstein, with Senator Boxer's support, provides an opportunity for the House and the Senate to work together in a bipartisan basis in the short term on legislation that could bring more water to our Valley. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the coming weeks on a compromise that will lessen the impacts of not only this drought, but of the future droughts we know will come."
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