Cardoza 'encouraged' by recent efforts to address state water crisis

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Dennis Cardoza said today he was encouraged by recent efforts to address the California water supply crisis which has adversely affected San Joaquin Valley farmers.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced today that farmers south of the Bay Delta will receive a 40 percent water allocation, the amount farmers had said they would need to get by this year, according to a news release from Cardoza's office. The allocation marks another 10 percent increase from the allocation announced in April, and a 30 percent increase over the 5 percent initially projected in February.

“Although the increased allocation comes late in the planting season to be of much assistance to farmers, it should help with groundwater overdraft and also for some water supplies to be carried over into the next water year,” said Cardoza in the news release. “It is crucial that the interagency coordination promised by the Obama Administration provide greater flexibility in water operations so that growers can receive more timely allocation increase announcements.”

Interior Secretary Salazar and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced Monday afternoon that they plan to develop a single integrated Biological Opinion environmental management plan for the Bay Delta. The single Biological Opinion would replace two existing Biological Opinions on salmon and the Delta smelt, the Cardoza news release said.

“The two Biological Opinions are in conflict with one another, and the cumulative effect of their many restrictions has had a devastating impact on water supplies in this state, particularly on Westside farms in the San Joaquin Valley. What’s worse is that these regulations have not resulted in any marked improvements to the fisheries,” said Cardoza.

Salazar and Locke said that the interagency plan to develop a single long-term integrated Biological Opinion could be incorporated into water operations as soon as the 2011 water year.