Rep. Costa Takes Valley's Fight To House Floor

Apr 15, 2010
Press Release
Blasts flawed policies and closed-minded thinking restricting water to Valley farmers, farm workers, and communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) today took the Valley’s fight to the floor of the House of Representatives. Speaking during debate on H.R. 4715, the Clean Estuaries Act, Costa took on the close-minded approach to California’s water supply crisis and the flawed biological opinions that are restricting the movement of water to the Valley.  

For video of Costa speaking, click here . Costa’s expanded remarks (as prepared) can be viewed at the bottom of the release.

Costa has long spoken out against the flawed biological opinions and Valley outsiders who have pushed for increased water restrictions on farmers, farm workers, and the Latino community. Costa has repeatedly stated that other factors like pollution and invasive species must be considered in regards to the decline of the Bay Delta’s health.

This was recently confirmed by the National Academy of Sciences report (for more information, click here ) on water management and Bay Delta health, which states: “[…] No scientific study has demonstrated that pumping in the south delta is the most important or the only factor accounting for the delta-smelt population decline. Therefore, the multiple other stressors that are affecting fish in the delta environment as well as in the other environments they occupy during their lives must be considered, as well as their comparative importance with respect to the effects of export pumping.”

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Costa’s expanded remarks (as prepared):

“I rise to speak in support of HR 4715: the Clean Estuaries Act of 2010.  Reauthorization of this program will improve our opportunities to clean up our nation’s waterways.

“A good example is the persistent degradation of the largest estuary on the West Coast: California’s San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

“Unfortunately, two flawed biological opinions, one issued by Fish & Wildlife Service and the other by the National Marine Fisheries Service, focus solely on exported water to the Valley and Southern California for the decline in Bay-Delta health.

“Agricultural communities south of the Bay-Delta, especially in my District, bear the entire brunt of the biological opinions and have been overwhelmed by reductions in water supply allocations when they already face Depression-level unemployment, home foreclosures, and food insecurity.

“The hardest-working people you’ll ever meet have stood in food lines and have been turned away.

“Unemployment has risen above 35% in many Valley towns and lingered there for months on end as a result of this crisis. 

“Meanwhile, urban centers continue to pollute the Bay-Delta with toxic runoff and waste discharged from sewage facilities, refineries, city streets, and power plants, significantly degrading the ecosystem, and putting the Valley’s water supply and agricultural jobs at risk.  

“There are also apparently over 2,000 pumps in and around the Delta that at times can take as much water as we export South, with no fish screens. 

“A recent study at UC Berkeley found that pyrethroids, one of the most widely-used home pesticides, are now found in California’s rivers at toxic levels to certain stream dwellers. 

“In other words, runoff from lawns in cities like Sacramento is further threatening the food supply of fish such as the threatened Delta smelt. 

“This is just one example of the many, not to mention non-native predatory fish like striped bass that compete with salmon for the same food and even eat young salmon as they make their way through the Bay-Delta.   

“This single-minded view has resulted in the loss of jobs and has endangered the livelihoods of farmers, farm workers, and farm communities in the San Joaquin Valley who rely on exported water to grow half the nation’s fresh fruits and vegetables. 

“Enough is enough. It’s time for other regions of California to share in the responsibility for the decline of water quality and fisheries.

“Playing the blame game and pointing fingers at the Valley’s economy and some of the hardest working people in the country will not resolve our water crisis.

“Working together will. 

“Without water, there is no work; there is no food on the table.  There is no San Joaquin Valley.

“We must work together not only to address the drought crisis in the short-term, but also to find long-term solutions to California’s water supply needs.

“Step one is reducing and preventing the longstanding pollution that is threatening the Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems and our region. 

“Passing this measure will help all our nation’s estuaries.”