Friant Dam and Millerton Lake

Friant Dam and Millerton Lake near Fresno, Calif.

'We the People' suffer most from California water wars

Throwing bombs may be an effective way to attract attention but it’s typically not the best way to gather allies.

I’ve said it before: California agriculture and its proponents cannot afford to be openly sniping at each other. Doing so only serves to bolster the efforts of its antagonists, and let’s face it: there are plenty of those.

Yet that’s exactly what Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare did in a recent “on the record” interview with a local newspaper.

My immediate thought while reading the newspaper article was: Here we are in the 21st Century and the adults in charge are acting like 5th grade boys on the playground, arguing over whether the ball was “out.”

Nunes takes some shots at the Friant Water Authority (FWA) during his newspaper interview, accusing the FWA of “refusing” to support his efforts to solve California’s water woes.

My purpose isn’t to wholly side with FWA; I will, however, suggest that if Mr. Nunes is trying to garner allies within the water community, publicly ridiculing the Friant Water Authority does not seem to be the best way to go about it.

Nunes is quoted in the article as saying FWA opposes House legislation aimed at helping California farmers.

Not true, according to FWA General Manager Ron Jacobsma. While FWA generally favors what Nunes and company are trying to accomplish with H.R. 3964, FWA does not favor language in the bill to repeal the San Joaquin River Settlement. Friant writes as much in a letter to Nunes and others authoring the legislation.

Friant’s opposition to the blanket repeal of the San Joaquin River Settlement Act without input from the parties involved in the settlement does not apparently erase general support for other tenets of the legislation, nor Friant’s stated desire to work through the conference committee process on House and Senate versions that encompass some of the same ideas.

Some of you may recall H.R. 3964 was borne after the open-collar, jacketless photo-op tour of a dried-up farm field near Bakersfield earlier this year by Representatives Nunes, Kevin McCarthy and House Speaker John Boehner.

That media event was followed a month later by President Obama’s visit to Central California and later by the Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014, a Senate Bill authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA.

So much for California’s federal delegation treating California’s drought and lack of water as the real emergency it is: two bills with the word “emergency” in them and neither one of them are in serious danger of being passed by Congress so the President can veto them as earlier promised.

One would think that if the total California delegation in both the House and Senate got together with a common voice that mountains could move in Washington: How naïve of me to think California's federal delegation would seek common ground to serve the people who elected them.

What public good does it serve to belittle a constituent group over differences that could easily be resolved by checking all involved egos at the door to the negotiating room?


Reach me at [email protected]. Follow me on Twitter @ToddFitchette



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