“They haven’t pumped as much water as they could under the biological opinion,” Puglia said. “We’re hoping the governor’s emergency declaration sent a strong signal to the Obama administration to be prepared to pump at the higher end of their discretion. If we get lucky and see storm activity, and pulse flows come down the Sacramento River, we need to capture as much of that as possible.”
“If we had those 850,000 acre feet in storage, we’d be in a hell of a lot better position now,” he said. “It’s basically equal to one Folsom Reservoir.”
The drought declaration, Puglia said, calls national attention to the problem.
“It adds to the urgency for the Obama administration and Congress to look at temporary relief measures,” he said. “Those can range from direct aid to people whose livelihoods are impacted to federal waiving of certain requirements that allow water to be moved.”
Western Growers Association president and chief executive officer Tom Nassif welcomed Boehner’s proposal in Bakersfield.
“We hope that the speaker’s engagement today marks a willingness by members of both parties and both houses of Congress to work toward bipartisan solutions to the water supply crisis that threatens thousands of America’s most productive farmers,” Nassif said in a news release.
“Federal action to raise the existing Shasta Dam should be expedited,” he said.
California’s last drought declaration, prompted by low rainfall in 2008 and 2009, ended in 2011.