"God bless the American farmer, God bless America," said President Donald Trump as he conclude his 40-minute address to local farmers Wednesday.
The president ceremoniously signing his administration's new rules altering how federal authorities decide who gets water, and how much, in California, the U.S. state with the biggest population and economy and most lucrative farm output.
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From now on it's your land, it's not their land," Trump told the crowd. He said since he took office the Department of Agriculture has committed $6.1 billion to improve rural water infrastructure.
Back in October 2019, the Trump administration unveiled new rules to govern California’s scarce water, committing to send more to farmers in the Central Valley despite warnings from environmental groups that it would imperil endangered species in the fragile San Joaquin Delta, the Associated Press reported.
These rules became known as the the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. These projects both looked to provide water to more than 25 million Californians and millions of acres of farmland.
The new rules change how much water is stored in the reservoir to prevent it from running out of cold water. Ernest Conant, regional director for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said the new rules will result in more cold water storage than under the current rules.
The plan would give water agencies more flexibility on how much water they can pump out of the state’s rivers. When it’s raining a lot, agencies can pump more. When it’s dry, less would be pumped.
The Trump administration declared that pumping more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to supply farms will not jeopardize the endangered salmon and smelt that live in the estuary.
Experts said this report will likely result in between 300,000 and 500,000 acre-feet more water removed from the Delta each year via pumping stations near Tracy, according to CalMatters.org . Most of the newly diverted water would flow to San Joaquin Valley farmers.
The Newsom administration said it would sue the federal government over those rules, but so far it has not done so.
Earlier this month, Governor Gavin Newsom revealed a plan that would keep more water in the fragile San Joaquin River Delta while restoring 60,000 acres of habitat for endangered species and generating more than $5 billion in new funding for environmental improvements.
Wade Crowfoot, secretary for the California Natural Resources Agency, said the state is still negotiating with the federal government and can still file a lawsuit if their concerns are not addressed.