Three Things You Need to Know About the Drought

While the rains we’ve experienced over the past few weeks are a welcome relief, our state is still in an extreme drought. As a rancher and pear farmer in the Delta, I know just how devastating this drought is to farmers.

Here are three important things you need to know about the drought…

Help is available for farmers and communities!

As part of the omnibus budget I voted for in January, the federal government’s emergency drought programs were restored (I helped author these powers when I served as President Clinton’s Deputy Interior Secretary). Today there is about $300 million in emergency relief available.

If you are a farmer, I recommend visiting to see what options are available to you. The USDA’s drought page and the National Integrated Drought Information System also provide helpful resources. The University of California has a continuously updated page of agricutlure specific resources and listings of drought related events. My office is also available to guide you through this process in Davis (530-753-5301), Fairfield (707-438-1822), or Yuba City (530-329-8865).

We can all pitch in to conserve water.

While I work on legislation to better prepare for droughts, this is going to be a team effort. There is a lot we can all do to conserve water. The Governor is right to ask us to reduce our water usage by at least 20%. The state’s Save our Water page is a helpful resource to learn what you can do. Ready.govhas important information on how you can prepare your household for droughts and wildfires.

I believe policies being considered in Sacramento and Washington could make the situation worse.

In Sacramento, I think the so-called Bay Delta Conservation Plan is a $25 billion twin tunnels boondoggle that would kill jobs in farming, fishing, and recreation in the Delta and threaten water rights – without adding a single drop of water to our supply. I’m the author of A Water Plan for All Californians, a proposal that actually creates new water through water recycling, conservation, and storage.

In Washington, the House Republican Leadership proposed what seems clear to me to be a dangerous water grab that luckily is likely to die in the Senate. Their bill would overturn six decades of California state water and environmental law, all to benefit a small group of well-connected farmers in San Joaquin Valley. I promise to you that I’ll remain vigilant as drought bills move through Congress.