Rep. David Valadao introduces emergency drought relief legislation

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — As the heat continues to scorch the Central Valley, Kern Congressman David Valadao has introduced legislation he says will provide emergency drought relief to the Valley.

“The situation that we’ve got in the Valley is dire and people are in really bad shape,” Valadao said, speaking bluntly about the California drought with Kern considered in the worst possible “exceptional drought” category.

“Some of the reservoirs — they’re at record-low numbers,” Valadao said as he explained the basis behind the legislation that he argues will create more water storage infrastructure, and will help to bring and to keep more water in the Valley. Dubbed the “NEED Water Act,” part of the bill seeks to cut what Valadao calls the red tape surrounding the movement of water between certain areas.

“There are farmers and communities that may have excess water,” he said. “So what my bill would allow is those areas who may have the ability to transfer water out or sell that water, it would allow them to do it a little bit quicker and streamline the process.”

Much of the Central Valley’s Water comes from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

“Avenal, Coalinga, and Huron totally rely on 100% of their water from the Delta,” Valadao said. “[The legislation] would allow communities like that and communities growing our food the ability to find water, purchase water, and transfer water to their farms.”

But environmentalists have pushed back against taking more water from the Delta, and so has the Democratic-backed legislature, essentially constraining the amount of water that can be pulled from the delta. The reason, per environmentalists: to save the endangered Delta Smelt Fish species.

Valadao insists his bill is backed by science and he is urging members on both sides of the aisle to support it.

“Right now Washington D.C. is pretty partisan. On this issue, at least in the Valley, we’re pretty unified. Is there room for bipartisan on this legislation? I believe that’s there. We’ve got to make sure our ideas are out there before we get to something the majority of the Valley supports.”

This bill comes with a sunset clause, meaning the legislation will end when the drought officially “ends.”

Both chambers must pass the bill before it reaches the Pres. Joe Biden’s desk. No word if the president would sign it into law.

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