Fresno County Supervisors Get It Right!
Local leaders from every city and county in the Valley should be in the middle of this fight.
May 07, 2015
The Central Valley is begging for some local leadership on the drought. We don't want to discount the efforts of Congressmen Devin Nunes and David Valadao for their efforts on Congressional legislation, or Assemblyman Jim Patterson and others for their efforts to get the storage issue before the voters. But, our Valley needs leadership at the local level as well, from council people, supervisors and mayors.
This is something that has been sorely lacking. Local leaders from every city and county in the Valley should be in the middle of this fight. We realize these leaders have no direct impact on state and federal water issues, but they are the ones who have to live with the results of the current legislation like river restoration and the ESA.
So, it is refreshing to see the Fresno County Board of Supervisors take on the water issue by passing a proclamation asking the governor to cut environmental water use by the same 25% other water users have to reduce. If you think environmental water is sacred and untouchable, you're just about right, but it shouldn't be. No matter how much water enviros say they need, it is never enough, and the environment never seems to improve.
There needs to be some level of accountability for environmental water use. No matter how much water they take from the Valley for the Delta Smelt, the smelt continue to vanish. It's time the rest of us get some of that water back.
Every local elected official in the Valley should either sign onto the Fresno Supervisors proclamation, or pass one of their own. As Supervisor Buddy Mendes rightly says, "there are no political boundaries in the Valley when it comes to this issue."
PROCLAMATION OF CONTINUATION OF A LOCAL EMERGENCY BY
THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
COUNTY OF FRESNO,
STATE OF CALIFORNIA
(IN THE MATTER OF THE 2015 DROUGHT CONDITIONS) RESOLUTION
WHEREAS, a local emergency presently exists in the County of Fresno in accordance with the proclamation thereof by the Board of Supervisors of the County of Fresno on the 24th day of March, 2015 as a result of a crippling disaster, which severely impaired public health and public safety, created by conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property which have arisen within said County caused by a statewide drought commencing in 2012; and
WHEREAS, on January 17, 2014, the Governor proclaimed a statewide emergency due to unprecedented drought conditions in the State of California; and
WHEREAS, on January 28, 2014 the Fresno County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution in support of the Governor’s proclamation; and
WHEREAS, on the 24th day of March, 2015, the Board of Supervisors of the County of Fresno, proclaimed the existence of a local emergency and requested the Governor of California make available any and all State assistance programs and seek additional Federal assistance programs to provide relief to the individuals, growers, businesses, public agencies and private agencies that were harmed by this disaster; as a result of local resources being inadequate to cope with the effects of said emergency; and the combined forces of the other political subdivisions of the State were required to assist the County to combat the effects of said emergency ; and
WHEREAS, on the 19th day of September, 2014, the Governor issued Executive Order (EO)B-26-14 authorizing the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to provide California Disaster Assistance Act funding, as deemed appropriate, for local government assistance to provide emergency water supplies to households without water for drinking and sanitation purposes: and
WHEREAS, on the 27th day of March, 2015, the Governor signed emergency legislation - AB 91 and AB 92 – that fast-tracks more than $1 billion in funding for drought relief and critical water infrastructure projects; and
WHEREAS, this Board appreciates the Governor’s efforts to deal with this statewide emergency and crisis; and
WHEREAS, said emergency has continued and escalated in cumulated impact on this County; and WHEREAS, local and statewide resources continue to be inadequate to cope with the effects of said emergency; and
WHEREAS, of California’s total developed water supply of 82.5 million acre-feet, 47.8% is being made available to environmental purposes, 41.5% is designated for agricultural uses and 10.8% is allocated to urban uses; and
WHEREAS, all beneficial uses and users within California have been curtailed – in part or in whole – by the State Water Board or local and regional allocation and entitlement decisions in response to the drought; and
WHEREAS, On average, agricultural water supplies between Redding and Bakersfield have been reduced by 70%, with 31% of California’s irrigated farmland, or 2,831,000 acres, receiving zero water supply allocations; and 52.8% of the state’s irrigated farmland receiving 20% or less of normal surface water supplies; and
WHEREAS, water made available by the State of California for environmental purposes has remained unregulated and, in many cases, has resulted in urban and agricultural users losing potential water supplies to keep environmental uses “whole”; and
WHEREAS, 2015 is the second consecutive year in which Central Valley Project contractors within Fresno County have endured zero water supply allocations, which agricultural contractors and users are being most negatively affected; and
WHEREAS, that these circumstances compel Fresno County to request the Governor to take even more stringent actions to be directed at reducing the state’s water consumption by imposing curtailments water supplies currently dedicated to the environment and fishery habitat that are comparable to those now being mandated and burdening urban and agricultural contractors and users; and
NOW THEREFORE, THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF THE COUNTY OF FRESNO RESOLVES AS FOLLOWS that the Governor be requested to direct the State Water Board to take action making changes in Delta water operations necessary to provide additional water supplies for urban and agricultural users; and
That the Governor be requested to meet and confer with the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Commerce to exercise the greatest possible flexibility in biological opinions regulating operations affecting endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act; and
That the Governor be requested to be supportive of Congressional legislative efforts being undertaken by Senator Feinstein to enact federal drought legislation that would benefit water supply availability in Fresno County and the San Joaquin Valley; and
That the Governor be requested to notify this Board of Supervisors of any and all actions, orders, negotiations and discussions undertaken on behalf of advancing the points enumerated above; and
That the Governor be requested to continue to make available any and all State assistance programs and seek additional Federal assistance programs to provide relief to the individuals, growers, businesses, public agencies, and private agencies that were harmed by this disaster; and
That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Governor of California, the State Water Resources Control Board and the Director of the State Office of Emergency Services.
NOW THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY PROCLAIMED by the Board of Supervisors of the County of Fresno, State of California, that said local emergency continues to exist in the County of Fresno and that this county remains at “Ground Zero” for the state’s most serious economic and social water supply reduction impacts.
Fresno County supervisors want to cut water for fish
Fresno County supervisors renewed their commitment to getting more water for the Valley by approving a more strongly worded drought resolution they expect other Valley counties will support.
The new proclamation wants federal and state agencies to curtail water supplies “currently dedicated to the environment and fisheries.”
Supervisor Henry R. Perea said that supervisors want the governor to take executive action and reduce the amount of water for the environment similar to the 25% amount demanded of urban users.
“We need more than just a declaration of an emergency, but to be very specific with the federal government and our state officials about what we are wanting and asking them to do,” Perea said.
The drought resolution approved Tuesday was discussed during a recent trip to Washington, D.C., and meetings with federal legislators and officials, Perea said.
The resolution proposes that federal drought legislation be enacted to improve water supply availability in Fresno County and the San Joaquin Valley.
Mario Santoyo, Latino Water Coalition executive director, said other county boards of supervisors are going to support the proclamation Fresno County approved Tuesday.
He also said a letter signed by 70 elected Valley officials will be sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday.
“In my 30-plus years in water we have never been in this condition,” Santoyo said.
Even in the worst days of the late 1970s drought the water supply was 25% for east side and west side agricultural users. Today, it’s 0%.
Said Supervisor Buddy Mendes: “There are no political boundaries in the Valley when it comes to this issue.”
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