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Some Get It Right

The current impasse on water is the result of a deliberate campaign to pit water districts and local officials against one another, and to create a giant, impenetrable bureaucracy

Jan 15, 2014

In 2008, as the San Joaquin River Restoration was heading for passage in Congress, Congressman Devin Nunes was warning Friant growers that they were willingly sealing their own doom. He tried to warn them that it wasn't inconceivable that they could lose 800,000 acre feet of water to the Exchange Contractors. This would be in additiion to the requiired releases for the river. He tried to warn them that although the deal was being sold as 'comprehensive', it really wasn't. More litigation would likely follow.

Nunes tried to warn that the 250,000 acre feet lost to the river would increase the 400,000 acre feet overdraft to 650,000 acre feet. He predicts 300,000 acres of fallowed land. Not only is there the loss of water, but farmers may well find themselves with surcharges and new bonds to pay for the billion-dollar settlement. He also tried to warn that supporting the river settlement would make it more difficult to pursue a dam at Temperance Flat. Nunes was attempting to send out a warning to those supporting the settlement to bail out ASAP.

Needless to say, they didn't listen. Nunes' predictions are now coming true. To read his entire 2008 letter, click here.

The congressman goes on to talk about his Water Reliability Act (H.R.1837) in 2012 that he was able to get passed in the House, but would not be taken up in the Senate. It would have helped solve the Delta problems. When it comes to lawmakers, we have to admit he's the only one who's got a track record of getting it right. People would do well to listen, if it's not too late already.

The letter below was just sent out by the Congressman. You can also click onto a letter he recently sent to Friant farmers.


Dear Friends,


Policies pushed by environmental extremists have now taken deep root in the Central Valley, especially due to the Central Valley Project Improvement Act of 1992 (the George Miller/Bill Bradley bill), destructive court rulings based on the Endangered Species Act, and the San Joaquin River Settlement of 2009. The devastating results of these policies are now undeniable – the Valley is suffering from a permanent government-made drought.


A bill that would have rectified this situation – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act (H.R. 1837) – was approved by the House of Representatives in 2012 but did not pass the Senate due to opposition from both California senators and from Governor Brown.


The current impasse on water is the result of a deliberate campaign to pit water districts and local officials against one another, and to create a giant, impenetrable bureaucracy around the issue that insulates our senators and governor from the political consequences of this disaster.


In light of the dire threat the drought poses to Valley agriculture and to Valley life in general, our senators and Governor Brown must either work to pass the reforms from H.R. 1837 or explain to Californians how they intend to mitigate this calamity. Ultimately, it will take federal law to fix the problem; without Senate support for a comprehensive water bill that gains President Obama’s signature, there will be no relief from current conditions outside of flood-level rainfall.


For further information, please see the letter I recently sent to Friant farmers on this topic here, and a letter I sent out in 2008 here.



Devin Nunes


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