The State Water Board this week approved emergency curtailment for the Delta Watershed, but state Senator Melissa Hurtado says the measures will hurt valley residents.
In a press release sent out Wednesday, Hurtado said the measures will seriously impact agriculture and access to clean water for those living in the Delta Watershed, which is fed by the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers and serves 40% of California’s land area.
The item was passed Tuesday as part of the board’s efforts to curtail the impacts of the 2020-2021 drought, which has been the driest two year period since a 1976-1977 drought.
The agency item put before the board stated a methodology would be allied to determine which water right holders and claimants have insufficient water supplies and will have to reduce or stop diverting water from rivers and tributaries, based on priority.
The goal is to control the level of salt in groundwater, protect the minimum health and safety needs and minimize impact to fish and wildlife should the drought continue into 2022.
Hurtado’s release claimed the move would cut water supplies to Central Valley farmers, affecting the food chain and job availability in the area. The curtailment of water could force farms to fallow land, the release said.
“The theft of water that propels the Board to order curtailments, will no doubt deprive our most vulnerable communities of clean water and jobs, but it will also deprive an already constrained global food system,” said Hurtado. “The California Water Board must do better to prioritize human security which incorporates the human right to water and the human right to food.”
A letter Hurtado sent to the board said, while extreme actions do need to be taken, they should first consider the impact to low-income communities, food production and the international agriculture market of curtailment.
The curtailment agenda item states the measures can be loosened if precipitation events were to lessen the impacts of the drought, but as is there is insufficient supply to meet demand, which “requires urgent action to ensure the protection of health, safety, and the environment.”