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Drought legislation introduced in Congress
drought report pic
California drought has hit the Central Valley hard. Pictured here are dry fields and bare trees at Panoche Road on Feb. 5 near San Joaquin County. - photo by GREGORY URQUIAGA / UC Davis

While the recent rain across the state has somewhat eased local farmers’ and citizens’ minds, legislators are still fighting for more short term relief for Californians in the nation’s capital. On Tuesday Central Valley Congressman David Valadao (CA-21) introduced legislation to enact temporary measures to maximize water resources during the ongoing drought plaguing California.


Hanford native Valadao introduced the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014 with the aim of providing “short term water supplies to drought-stricken California” as well as protecting Northern California water rights and the State Water Project for the next two years, or until Governor Jerry Brown suspends his declaration of drought emergency. The President of the California Farm Bureau Federation Paul Wenger said that the new legislation keeps the drought “front and center” in Washington.


“We hope this legislation prompts continued discussions in Congress and elsewhere, about what the federal government can and should do to make our water system work more efficiently for the benefit of people, the environment and the economy,”  said Wenger.  


The California Farm Bureau Federation is part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million members and works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 57,000 statewide members.


The runoff generated from rainfall during drought years is vital in terms of climbing out of the drought status. Noting that in past years a significant amount of water has flowed to the ocean that could have been utilized for “severe water shortages our farms and communities face,” Wenger said that capturing runoff will significantly aid the environmental and agricultural needs of Californians.


“When we have storms such as those that have reached California this week, we simply must be able to capture as much of that runoff as possible,” said Wenger. “California remains in desperate need of fixes to our water system, and this legislation would provide short-term relief while Congress continues work on long-term reform.”