Trump’s Water relief in the West
On Oct. 19, 2018, President Donald J. Trump ordered the California government to speed up environmental reviews and streamline restrictions that are delaying water projects.
In Arizona, Trump signed a presidential memorandum to promote the Central Valley Project, the California State Water Project, the Oregon’s Klamath Irrigation Project and the Washington State’s Columbia River Basin project from separating federal agencies to environmental reviews.
The Central Valley Project is a federally managed water storage and delivery system that primarily benefits agricultural users in that location. The California State Water Project is a state water management that serves the urban water users. The Klamath Irrigation Project is the water management that supplies water to farmers in Oregon. The Columbia River Basin project is an effort to provide irrigation water to land in Central Washington State.
Trump’s memorandum also called for greater use of technology in forecasting water supplies, hydropower production, and water recycling.
“For decades burdensome federal regulations have made it extremely difficult and expensive to build and maintain federal water project … some of the best farmland in the world, by the way, can’t be used because they don’t have water, but they actually have a lot of water.” Trump said.
The announcement was a boost for the California Republican lawmakers who are facing rough challenges from Democrats looking to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Trump was surrounded by five Republicans from the Central Valley districts: Kevin McCarthy, Devin Valadao, Jeff Denham and Tom McClintock, when he stated,“they are the ones who really led this drive,”
Denham said in a statement “My number one priority has always been to deliver more water to the Central Valley. This order will reduce regulatory burdens and promote more efficient environmental reviews of California storage projects, ensuring that Valley farmers and residents have supply of water for generations to come.”
Trump and the representatives of Central Valley have pledged to fight the regulation to raise water supplies for the Central Valley farmers. According to AP News, the farming interests have long pushed to raise Shasta Dam, which holds back California’s largest reservoir as part of the Central Valley Project. This project is opposed by environmentalists who say it will threaten aquatic species and cause flooding in sacred sites of the Winnemem Wintu tribe. Other dams are also proposed which includes Reservoir and Temperance Flat Dam.
The state water board has proposed the amount of water allowed to flow through the San Joaquin River to protect the habitat and aquatic life. This proposal has sparked protests from farmers and Central Valley politicians who call it a “water grab.” The state officials also said that the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is an ecosystem in crisis.
David Bernhardt from the U.S. Interior Department, told reporters that this is,“the most significant action that a president has ever taken on water in his lifetime.” He said Trump is doing good on his promise to take initiative on managing water.