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FPV Board Members Testify at Congressional Hearing

Board members Kole Upton and Mark Watte testified before the Congressional Natural Resources Water and Power Subcommittee

Apr 12, 2011

 

Families Protecting The Valley Newsletter Tell Your Friends about Families Protecting The Valley
VOLUME 2 ISSUE 96

APRIL 12 2011

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Board of Directors

Denis Prosperi
Chester Andrew
Bob Smittcamp
Russ Waymire
John "Dusty" Giacone
Joe Marchini
Mark Watte
Kole Upton
Piedad Ayala
Tom Barcellos
Jim Walls

 
FPV Board Members Testify at Congressional Hearing

Families Protecting the Valley board members Kole Upton and Mark Watte testified before the Congressional Natural Resources Water and Power Subcommittee in Fresno.  Upton and Watte were two of nine citizens who testified at the hearing in Fresno's City Hall Monday morning.  We provide the written script of their testimony below along with the Fresno Bee's coverage.  Other testimony is also provided. 

The hearing got under way with statements from subcommittee members including Tom McClintock, Jeff Denham, Devin Nunes, Jim Costa, Grace Napolitano, John Garamendi and Committee Chairman Doc Hastings.  In addition to Upton and Watte, citizens testifying before the committee included Westlands Water District General Manager Thomas Birmingham , Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson, Contra Costa Supervisor Mary Piepho Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Conner and Larry Collins, vice president of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Associations. 

It's encouraging that we finally had a hearing in the heart of the Central Valley, where we've been at ground zero in the battle for California water.  There were good discusions about storage, the delta, the peripheral canal and accountability for environmental water use.  Current policy makes all water users abide by the 'reasonable use' clause of the public trust doctrine...all water users that is except environmental users.  For example, when they take water under the Central Valley Project Improvement Act for 19-years to help restore the delta, and have nothing to show for it, there is no penalty for environmentalists.  Maybe while they're doing their dam studies they can take a look at this as well. 

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Water Hearing Quotes:

"If environmental water that is diverted is not accomplishing the task for which it was taken, it should be declared a “waste and unreasonable use” of water."  Kole Upton, Families Protecting the Valley Board Member.  Full Statement.

"Quite honestly, we are tired of talk.  We want action.  Congress needs to fix the situation in the delta, it needs to revisit CVPIA and streamline a number of troublesome provisions."  Mark Watte, Families Protecting the Valley Board Member.  Full Statement.

"And time after time, the District Court has found that the federal fish agencies used what the court called “sloppy science” or, in many instances, no science at all in preparing these biologic opinions."  Thomas Birmingham, General Manager, Westlands Water District.  Full Statement.

"For too long, our government policies have focused on rationing of shortages rather than on providing abundance." 
Congressman Tom McClintock.  Full Statement.

"It was they who staged the media circus with clowns like Sean Hannity and posed 60 Minutes’ Diane Sawyers in front of uprooted almond trees without bothering to tell her that they tear those trees out every 20- to 25 years anyway."  Salmon Fisherman Larry Collins.  Full Statement.   

"Some of our customers are asking a very reasonable question: how can Reclamation announce agricultural water supply allocations south of the Delta of only 75%?  Michael Conner, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation.  Full Statement.     

"It is unfair that citizens of smaller communities and lesser populated areas are discriminated against by not receiving the same attention or support received by larger population centers like the Bay Area or Southern California."  Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson.  Full Statement.


More Coverage:

Water Debate Rages at Hearing - Fresno Bee


Live From the Hearing - Pacific Legal Foundation Liberty Blog

Highlights From the Hearing - Alex Breitler Blog

Water, Politics Converge - Fresno Business Journal



 ."....////[lllk...."lm,k.Floodgates of Valley Anger Open at Fresno Water Hearing

John Ellis


The overwhelming sentiment at a Monday morning congressional hearing in Fresno was that bureaucrats and federal regulations are depriving the San Joaquin Valley of water.


Long before Rep. Tom McClintock called the meeting to order inside Fresno's City Hall, dozens of demonstrators walked outside with signs reading, among other things, "No Water, No Jobs = Higher Food Costs."


McClintock, an Elk Grove Republican who is chairman of the Natural Resources Committee's Water and Power Subcommittee, then set the tone inside by saying the political "left" is pushing "politically motivated junk science" while attempting to "pit fishermen against farmers."


There were dissenting voices, but they were in the minority.


Larry Collins, a San Francisco-based fisherman and vice president of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, found himself in the role of villain as he defended the endangered salmon and the federal government protections set up to help the fish.


Those protections at times mean water-pumping cutbacks from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. That means less water coming to Westlands Water District and other agricultural and urban water users south of the delta.


"The more water you take out of [the delta], the more you guarantee the death spiral of my industry," Collins told the lawmakers.


Collins then exposed the deep rifts between farmer and fisherman when he said he was up against "corporate billionaire agribusinesses."


Collins' comments weren't the only ones in opposition to the prevailing political theme of the day, but they were the most incendiary.


They earned hoots and boos from the audience, and made him a target of Rep. Devin Nunes, the Visalia Republican who went after Collins with many of his questions.


In the end, the entrenched and well-known positions were solidified.


Prominent west-side rancher John Harris said not much new was learned from the hearing, but he thought it was a success because it brought attention to the plight of Valley agriculture.


But there are challenges facing the elected officials as they look at the state's water delivery system and try to tweak it.


Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, pointed out that if Monday's hearing had been held in Stockton instead of Fresno, the message would have been completely different: Don't send the water south.


"We're going to have to find the middle ground here," he said.


Santa Fe Springs Democrat Grace Napolitano echoed Garamendi, stressing that nobody can get everything they want.


But inflammatory rhetoric was the order of the day.


Nunes said that Sen. Dianne Feinstein twice "lied" to him on the water issue, and said that nothing would be done to help west-side water users by Democrats who are in step with the "radical environmental element."


Part of the frustration dealt with the fact that west-side agriculture is still guaranteed only 75% of its contracted water amount, despite this year's huge rainfall totals.


There also was conflicting testimony, with some mixing delta water issues that affect the Valley's west side with those of the San Joaquin River, which is more an east-side issue.


Madera County farmer Kole Upton called for building a dam at Temperance Flat and then went far off topic in decrying the effect of California's proposed high-speed rail line on agriculture.


For most, though, the bottom line fit the hearing's pre-established topic: "Creating Jobs by Overcoming Man-Made Drought: Time for Congress to Listen and Act."

 

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