Hurtado urges Water Board to consider Central Valley impacts in water decision
For Immediate Release: July 27, 2021
Media Contact: Michelle.Sherwood@sen.ca.gov
HURTADO URGES WATER BOARD TO CONSIDER CENTRAL VALLEY IMPACTS IN WATER DECISION
SACRAMENTO, CA –Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) sent the following letter to the State Water Resources Control Board today, urging the Board to consider the human economic and food-related impacts its proposed emergency water curtailment action could have on the Central Valley:
July 27, 2021
E. Joaquin Esquivel, Chair
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: Resolution NO. 2021--Proposed Emergency Water Curtailment
Dear Mr. Esquivel,
As you consider adopting Resolution Number 2021, the Emergency Curtailment and Reporting Regulation for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) Watershed, I urge you to consider the impacts this curtailment will have on low-income Central Valley communities and the agricultural industry that supports these communities.
This unprecedented proposed order would cut vital water supplies to California farms that have already been forced to comply with reduced water allocations in response to California’s worsening drought.
As a result of limited water, some farmers have chosen to fallow large segments of their farmland. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that by 2040 the San Joaquin Valley alone is projected lose over 500,000 acres of agricultural land to fallowing, which is potentially a low estimate if extreme drought conditions persist. Fallowed land means less food for our State, for the Nation, and for the globe. It means increases in food prices and decreases in availability of produce. It also means an increase in unemployment for many farmworkers and a major reduction in economic output for many communities in the Central Valley, compounding losses suffered as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Nowhere will this order have a greater impact than my Central Valley Senate district. I represent three of the top agricultural producing counties in the United States. Grocery stores throughout the United States sell our fruit, vegetables and nuts. Our dairy, cattle and poultry producers feed millions every day. The jobs associated with this industry sustain modest, but crucial, economic opportunities for our rural communities.
While bold action is no doubt needed in the face of historically dry conditions in the Western United States, the Board should also consider the impact this order will have on California food production, international agricultural markets and – most importantly – rural, immigrant communities that rely on Delta watershed supplies for drinking water and economic well-being.
As the Board considers its next actions to ensure human needs are met first during these unprecedented times, I urge you and the rest of the board to consider the economic, and human, impacts that the Board’s emergency curtailment order will have on the millions of Central Valley residents who depend on this industry for their livelihoods, and the very real human impact that less water will have on America’s food supply.
Senator, 14th District
On July 23, the State Water Resources Control Board proposed an emergency water curtailment for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) Watershed. This emergency water curtailment would require water right holders in the Delta Watershed to curtail their diversions when the State Water Resources Board determines that water is not available to serve certain priorities of water rights. It would also allow the Board to require that water rights holders provide information regarding their usage and diversion of water.
During this legislative session, Senator Hurtado introduced SB 559,The State Water Resiliency Act of 2021, to allocate $785 million to repair 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 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.