BAKERSFIELD, California (KSEE) – It was a promising day for Central Valley farmers Wednesday.
“I promised to help solve the water crisis that was crippling our farmers due to chronic mismanagement and misguided policies,” said President Donald Trump during his stop in Bakersfield. Now they’re hoping he can deliver.
“For the last decade the operation of California’s water infrastructure has been broken,” said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.
Trump signed an executive order which would make good on a campaign pledge he made in 2016 during a stop in Fresno when he promised to bring more water to the area.
“What’s been going on is much of the water that’s been going through the delta from the northern end of California is going into the ocean,” said President of the Nisei Farmers League Manuel Cunha.
Trump’s administration has reworked former environmental rules restricting water access.
“You need the water, you have the water, you need the signature and you’ll have one today and that was the tough one,” he said.
The changes will allow federal authorities to pump more water from the state’s wetter north, southward to its biggest cities and farms.
“I think it’s going to allow us to know that we have water coming so now we can plant those crops,” Cunha said.
The new rules are based on findings of a new biological opinion which aims to remove restrictions on water supplies, expand the window to transfer water from July through November and increase pumping during storms when fish are not endangered.
“The new biological opinions really utilize the latest data, the latest science the latest technology to allow us to better operate not only for the farmers and the cities here in the valley, but also for the species in the delta,” Jacobsen said.
The new science behind it also says it protects the delta smelt and salmon runs, which has been at the center of the controversy.
The administration also states the biological opinions will provide more than 600,000 acre-feet of new water to the Central Valley, allowing another 240,000 acres of land to be farmed.
The new plan is not in the clear yet. Governor Gavin Newsom has already announced his intent to file a lawsuit to block President Trump’s initiative.