Posted on March 5th by the California Farm Water Coalition , an open letter dated February 24, 2014, from 1200 California farmers was written to senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress to “outline the immediate threat that the drought poses to California’s $44.7 billion agricultural sector, and to respectfully insist that members of the California Congressional Delegation set aside their regional, ideological and political differences and work together to address the water supply crisis.”
The letter said, “The stakes could not be higher and time is of essence.” . . . “What happens this year will fundamentally change the face of California’s agriculture forever.”
Signers of the letter were described as, “family farmers who have been good stewards of the land for generations, but are now facing catastrophic losses from which they may not recover.” These farmers are also concerned about the thousands of men and women working in the diverse who also face the uncertainty the drought means for their families.
While the farmers called the current drought a “natural disaster”, they also said that California’s water projects, the Federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project, which were designed to provide reliable water supplies, even during droughts, and which met this challenge through previous droughts, no longer work as they were designed to work.
They stated that California’s reservoirs in 2011 were filled to overflowing by a year of heavy rains and in 2013 were above average. But currently, California’s reservoirs are empty, the consequences of which are lost water supplies, depleted groundwater and higher farming costs and damage to aquifers “as the result of short-sighted and unbalanced application of environmental regulations.”
Acknowledging that laws to protect the environment are necessary, as farmers too are caretakers of the land, the signers pointed to the managing agencies, claiming they spent all of the stored water with no consideration for the future. “Operating the Projects in this manner is quite simply unsustainable.”
The authors of the letter were in complete agreement that the current two separate bills, one in the House and the other in the Senate, are “of absolutely no value. What’s needed is a single bill that can be enacted by Congress and signed into law by the President within the next few weeks. Anything less will be your collective failure.”
Continuing, “You cannot allow partisan or personal animosities to interfere with you doing your job.” . . . “You must set aside those distractions, show courage, vision and leadership, and roll up your sleeves to work together as professionals to resolve this complex problem.”
They concluded, “We need you – all of you, northern and southern, Republican and Democrat, House and Senate – to come together and find a way to fix this broken system, now, before it breaks us all.”
And, finally, “Get it done.”
Thanks to California Farm Water Coalition.