Is Drought Real, or Manufactured by Politicians?

Local Guest Commentary:
By Russell Waymire

Is California really in a natural drought, or is it a politically manufactured water shortage? Granted, the south half of California this year has turned into an extremely dry year, but 2013 should not have turned into the water crisis disaster it has become.

Why? Because in December 2012 the liberal interpretation and abusive enforcement of the Endangered Species Act caused the release of almost a million acre feet of our water to the ocean, water that should have been stored behind dams for urban and Central Valley water users this year. Besides that, the Jim Costa-Diane Feinstein San Joaquin River Settlement diverted 170,000 acre feet of Friant water away from Valley farms and cities for a fish flow experiment.

Politicians in Washington and Sacramento have lost sight of reality. They either know nothing of past water shortages in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California or they see the water crisis as a political opportunity for urban areas to prosper at the expense of rural areas. The truth is, urban California will not prosper as rural California runs out of water.

Both the CVP Friant and Westside federal water projects and the State Water Project were built decades ago because Central Valley wells and jobs were drying up. Politicians are now allowing our water wells and jobs to again dry up because water from these projects is not being delivered.

Some politicians obviously care more about party loyalty then they do about rural farmworkers, farmers and ranchers. The environmental regulators appointed by the politicians are destroying private property rights and removing water rights at an alarming rate.

The failure to understand our past water history will lead us to relive those desperate Dust Bowl times when water wells dry up both on the Eastside, Westside and now the middle of the Valley. Jobs and water wells are drying up all over the Valley.

Gov. Brown, U.S. senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Congressman Jim Costa have misrepresented the interests of the San Joaquin Valley time and again and are responsible for this water crisis. There is little doubt when you look at the implementation results of the Jim Costa-Diane Feinstein San Joaquin River Friant Dam & Friant Water Settlement Law, the CVPIA Central Valley Project Improvement Act ( CVPIA ) and enforcement of Endangered Species Act laws.

These politicians evidently place a higher value on baitfish like the delta smelt, rats, bugs and weeds than they do farmworkers, farmers and saving our jobs. If you agree that people are more important than party lines, bugs and baitfish, then don't vote for politicians who have failed to solve the water crisis by passing legislation to amend their bad laws mentioned above.

It is Congress and the U.S. Senate that passed these poorly written laws, and until Congress and the U.S. Senate change these rigid, unbalanced laws, our agricultural communities will see more jobs dry up for farmworkers, food processors, transportation companies while our local communities also wither.

Politicians are promoting the Delta twin tunnels as a panacea. If they are ever constructed, with an estimated completion date of 2035, it will be too little and too late for us. In the short term, the Endangered Species Act, the Central Valley Project Improvement Act and the San Joaquin River Settlement need to be set aside or amended now so changes can be made to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to increase the fresh water flow of water through the Delta from north to south to stop the devastating reverse flow of the San Joaquin River that entraps salmon and other fish where predator fish feast. This remedy will provide an immediate short-term affordable solution with increased water volume into the San Joaquin River Delta that will also dilute the pollutants currently concentrating there.

Our water supply is far too important to national security and our Valley to trust politicians who allow the nonwater deliveries to continue. Failure to make these changes will allow the devastation to the Central Valley, our state, our economy and the Delta water system we depend on to continue. Is your job or a neighbor's or a relative's job at risk of drying up?

Waymire has farmed walnuts, pistachios and row crops in Kings, Kern and Madera counties and was named the Agriculturist of the Year for Kings County in 2009.