Digital News Report – The state of California has always looked to the Sacramento Delta for a source of water. Canals and aqueducts carry water from the delta to farmers in the middle of the state and cities in the southern part of the state.
Yesterday State Senator Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) questioned Delta Watermaster Craig Wilson about his recent proposals. One proposal, which would cut off water to farmers who waste water, was of particular interest.
We received the following correspondence from the senator on this subject:
Senator Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) today heard testimony from Delta Watermaster Craig Wilson during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water. Wilson recently released a report expressing his intention to intercede in water policy far outside the boundaries of the Delta, despite the fact that he is not empowered to do so. As the lead Republican member of the committee, LaMalfa expressed serious concerns about Wilson’s broad interpretation of his position’s role and several of his policy proposals.
“The law creating the Watermaster’s position clearly directs his efforts to the Delta itself, yet in a vast stretch of the imagination he believes he has authority over every drop of water which eventually flows through the Delta,” said LaMalfa. “The Watermaster does not and should not have jurisdiction over water users hundreds of miles from the Delta.”
Created as a part of the 2009 water bond agreement, the position of Delta Watermaster is empowered to address problems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – especially illegal diversions from within the Delta. However, when directly questioned by the Senator about his efforts to investigate such diversions, Wilson cited just three cases, all of which were underway prior to his appointment to the position.
The Senator’s most pointed comments addressed two major policy proposals included in the Watermaster’s recent report to the State Water Resources Control Board. The report suggested that cease and desist orders should be issued to growers who are believed to be using water inefficiently, eliminating the due process rights afforded to all Americans.
“This proposal eliminates due process rights in favor of a presumption of guilt – a suggestion that should concern every Californian, not just those working in agriculture,” LaMalfa said.
The other proposal which drew criticism suggested that farmers change their crops to varieties with lower water requirements, a statement that LaMalfa said displayed Wilson’s lack of knowledge of California’s agriculture industry.
“Every grower in this state already works under extremely tight constraints, between the soil type of a farm, its water supply, the type of crops that will grow in certain climates and the demands of the market,” stated the Senator. “To state that growers aren’t working to be as efficient as possible ignores the economics of the agriculture industry as a whole.”
The following is a map of the legal boundary of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, accessed at the Delta