Washington—In response to reports that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is considering halting rescheduled water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley farmers, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and California Congressmen Jim Costa, Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and David Valadao joined to urge the administration to reconsider this potentially devastating move.
The bipartisan group of lawmakers called for action within the next week that would provide assurances to Central Valley farmers who have invested in these reserves in previous years in anticipation of continued drought conditions.
Full text of the letter follows:
January 26, 2014
The Honorable Michael Connor
United States Bureau of Reclamation
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240-0001
Dear Commissioner Connor,
It has come to our attention that the United States Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) is considering reversing its long-held policy related to the use of rescheduled water in order to meet other Central Valley Project (CVP) water delivery obligations. While we recognize the incredibly dry conditions facing many CVP contractors, we strongly oppose the reallocation of any rescheduled water for any use other than its originally intended purpose as a reserve supply secured by contractors in anticipation of ongoing drought conditions.
As you know, two years of dry conditions, followed by the driest calendar year in California’s recorded history, have severely strained California’s water system. Many CVP contractors have taken prudent steps in years past to plan for just these circumstances by conserving water or purchasing water at great expense. It is our understanding that CVP contractors have spent approximately $150 million on water transfers in order to preserve an estimated 340,000 acre feet of project water in San Luis Reservoir. This was done with the understanding that the water would be rescheduled or “carried over” for use in years when natural hydrology or project operations reduce the amount of water available to these contractors. Redirecting rescheduled water to other CVP contractors would unfairly wreak economic havoc on those contractors who invested in drought reserve water supplies. This is simply unacceptable.
We respectfully request that the Bureau provide clear guidance on its rescheduled water policy and 2014 CVP operational plans within the next week which provides assurances to those contractors due rescheduled water that those supplies will be fully available to them. It is essential that the Bureau act quickly to provide farmers and contractors the certainty they need to plan for the very difficult year ahead.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to your response.