Hurtado holds virtual drought press conference

June 22, 2021

For Immediate Release: June 22, 2021

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SACRAMENTO, CA – Yesterday, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) held a virtual press conference, where she and other Senate District 14 leaders discussed the drought’s impact on small rural communities in the Central Valley. This press conference was part of the Senator’s “Food and Water Resiliency Tour.” 


“Rural Californians of the Central Valley face inequities when it comes to water, energy and health,” said Senator Hurtado. “Teviston is one example of that—a community of 400 that has been without water for 11 days now. With temperature rising above 105 degrees, they have not had water for their swamp coolers to provide relief. They haven’t had water to flush their toilets, or to shower. Avenal--a community of 10,000 mostly farmworkers—expects to be in the same situation by August. Water means food, health, science and above all else—it means life. This region just wants an equal shot at life.”


During yesterday’s press conference, City Manager Antony Lopez discussed the significant cuts in water that Avenal has seen, receiving only 635 acre feet of water for the year, compared to 3,500 acre feet in other years. Scott Taylor, who is the general manager of the Lamont Public Utility District discussed the contamination with trichloropropane (TCP) of 5 of the district’s 7 wells, as well as the age of the wells—some being more than 70 years old. Frank Galaviz, stated that Teviston has gone without running water for 12 days, having to truck in water from nearby Porterville. The well in Teviston is no longer functioning, highlighting the ever-real need to improve and repair water infrastructure.


In a bid to raise awareness of how the drought is impacting communities in her district, Senator Hurtado kicked off her tour with a stop at a farmworkers roundtable in Kern County on June 16th. During the farmworkers round table, she met with local workers in the grape industry, where she discussed the impacts of land retirement on workers, food security challenges arising and the impacts of changes in labor policy, as well as the impacts of the drought and universal basic income.


While in Kern County, Senator Hurtado toured fallowed land where approximately 300,000 boxes of varietal grapes would have been grown, and four hundred people would have been employed--but due to drought was fallowed. She attended a tour with the Western United Dairies on June 18th in Tulare County.  The same day, she attended a water roundtable with federal, state and local leaders to discuss the impacts of the drought in Fresno County. Today, the Senator held a virtual press conference with the local leaders of cities and towns to tell their stories about how drought conditions are affecting farmworkers and other community members.  She plans to end her tour in Southern California where she hopes to have a robust discussion about water. Please note that future dates and locations are subject to change and meetings will be closed to press unless otherwise noted.


This legislative session, Senator Hurtado has introduced Senate Bill 559--the State Water Resiliency Act of 2021. Senate Bill 559 will allocate $785 million to repairing vital water delivery systems that provide drinking water to communities throughout California and water to sustain the state’s leading agricultural economy. The funds would go to fixing the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta-Mendota Canal and major portions of the California Aqueduct, all of which have degraded and are losing water as a result of subsidence – the actual shrinking of land.


The Senator is also a co-author of the Water Innovation Act of 2021, which will create the Office of Water Innovation at the California Water Commission-furthering new technologies and other approaches within the water sector. The Senator has also introduced Senate Bill 464, which will expand the eligibility for state funded food benefits to undocumented immigrants, ensuring all residents can access food assistance. Senator Hurtado’s SB 108, which will declare it to be state policy that all people have access to sufficient, healthy food.



About Senator Melissa Hurtado


Senator Melissa Hurtado represents a new generation of Latina leaders as the youngest woman ever elected to the California State Senate and a product of immigrant parents. Senator Hurtado represents the 14th Senate District and focuses on rural community issues that often go unheard — access to clean air and water, food insecurity and poverty, inequities in environmental policies, agriculture and access to health care. In July 2020, she was appointed to the national Biden Latino Leadership Committee alongside former Labor Secretary and current Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis – the only two California Latinas on the Committee.


For more information, visit Senator Hurtado’s Website here or find her on Twitter at @Senator_Hurtado