Potential Amendment Would Provide Valley Farmers with Four Times Current Water Allocation

Feb 12, 2010
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) said today that months of work to ‘turn on the pumps’ will soon hit center stage with a potential Senate amendment to significantly increase water supplies to Valley farmers for the next two years.  Costa has been working with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) and local agriculture and water groups on an amendment to increase the amount of water allocated to Valley farms for the next two years.  If successful, it will save tens of thousands of jobs in the San Joaquin Valley.

“With current snow levels at 130% above average, it is unacceptable and unfair that certain regions of California will receive a full allocation of their water supply and the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley, which I have the honor of representing, would be limited to a devastating 10% allocation of water,” Costa said.  “This region is home to some of the most productive agricultural lands in the country, and yet for 18 months, the area has suffered from farmers losing their land and unemployment numbers that are higher now than during the peak of the Great Depression.  Unfortunately, this Administration has demonstrated little flexibility to provide short-term water to those most impacted.”

“During this drought, I have met with everyone I could to get us closer to real solutions.  I have protested the faulty ‘science’ used as a rationale to cut off our water and have testified against misguided policies that protect a tiny fish endangered by things far greater and unrelated to water pumping.  Most importantly, I have worked to form a bipartisan coalition to get us more water. This amendment is the product of that work,” Costa continued.

This amendment, if successful, will improve water allocations from less than 10% to 40% for the next two years. This is a percentage indicated by affected water agencies as a minimum to keep Westside agriculture alive. “My family farmed in the Valley for generations. Water was our lifeblood.  I first ran for office in part because I knew that without enough water, nothing in our Valley could survive – not crops, not our economy, not our way of life,” Costa said.

“Our local economy is being crippled by flawed policies and bad science used to protect fish in the Delta.  The lack of water has led to Depression-level unemployment without doing anything to save the Smelt or the salmon.  Our amendment will give our Valley enough water over the next two years to run their farms, employ the hardest working people in the world and bring stabilization back to our economy,” Costa said.