Just hours before hopping on a plane to sign a bill alongside President Barack Obama, Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) spoke before his constituents and local dignitaries at the Turlock Country Club as part of the annual Turlock Chamber of Commerce's Eggs and Issues breakfast.
Denham provided updates on his efforts in Washington, D.C. paying special attention to issues that directly affect Turlockers, in particular the multifaceted nature of the water crisis.
Citing the Clean Water Act of 1972, Denham expressed concerns of administrative overreach particularly in regards to the Environmental Protection Agency's increasingly strict water laws that have compromised many locals farming abilities.
"We have seen rules implemented outside of Congress that may have good intentions but have huge adverse affects to our farming community," explained Denham.
The Act was originally created to promote commerce while regulating the quality of navigable waters, but according to Denham what is considered navigable waters is consistently redefined.
"The definition of navigable waters today, you can't even put a canoe in what they consider navigable waters. It's an open definition to take away property rights and it’s something we're going to have to fight," Denham said.
Citing concerns for agriculturalists that may be fined or penalized for excess water on their property such as a holding pond at a dairy or water on a farmer's acreage that has fallowed, Denham said he is fighting overtly restrictive water use to allow farmers to work their land.
However, farming itself has been difficult in recent months due to the ongoing drought that has become not only an agricultural issue but a political one. With concerns for the lack of ground water in reserve and the drilling of wells across the Valley that is turning up salt and sand, Denham promoted continued water conservation efforts for the “jobs, infrastructure, and long term viability of the Valley."
"This is not a Westside versus Eastside issue, or L.A. and San Francisco versus our rural areas," said Denham "We've got to utilize this current crisis to actually get some big, long-term, water storage done," said Denham.