Fallowed Land

A BOLD & AMBITIOUS PLAN

By David A. Giglio, Republican Candidate for Congress

As California finds itself amidst another historic drought, the Central Valley deserves a voice in Congress who is willing to challenge the status quo and pursue a long-term solution to our state’s water crisis. Democrats like Adam Gray whose continued unwillingness to pursue such a plan proves that he does not have the desire or fortitude to be that voice.

FOR CALIFORNIA'S WATER CRISIS

I decided to run for Congress for the very reason that I am weary of career politicians who are more concerned with spending a lifetime in Washington than delivering real results that matter or improve their constituents’ lives. To supply a constituent’s home with an occasional check from the federal government via pork-filled spending bills does not suffice. 

A member of Congress’s office can be used as a bully pulpit that brings together local, state, federal, and private stakeholders to solve complex issues. Below, you will find the plan I developed after listening to recommendations from local farmers and environmental leaders who know far better than DC bureaucrats how to fix this crisis. This plan aims to bring all parties

and interests to the table in pursuit of a common solution.

1. Repair aging infrastructure and restore native habitat in the Delta

Today’s Delta looks dramatically different than it did prior to it becoming a civilized nexus of water supply. It has been transformed from a natural waterway into a complex channel of man-made canals, levies, and dikes. A functional delta is vital for California’s economy and must be retained. While we work to repair and modernize our existing water infrastructure (Friant-Kern and Delta-Mendota Canals) we must also begin the process of constructing new conveyance systems, and provide resources to re-establish estuaries at various points along the Delta that will not impede its economic operation. This will allow us to increase the economic efficiency of the Delta and restore natural habitats.

2. Clean up wastewater discharged into the Delta

Close to a billion gallons of wastewater is dumped into the Delta each day. Even though environmental laws have specific requirements for wastewater discharge, many cities and towns do not have modernized or adequate treatment facilities and are unable to stop harmful pharmaceuticals or ammonia from making it into the Delta. These contaminants have devastating effects on wildlife and increase the amount of water that must be drained from reservoirs. We must invest in new modernized water treatment facilities in every town and city along the Delta.

3. Balance native and non-native species in the Delta

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is one of the most invaded estuaries in the world. There are more non-native species, in particular the striped bass, living in the Delta than native ones. We can allow all the water in the world to flow through the Delta, but if we continue to permit the populations of non-native species to grow unchecked, salmon and smelt populations will never recover.

IMG_4032_Original.PNG

4. Create new water storage

Whether it’s climate change or mismanagement causing our water crisis does not matter. To catch and store more water for dry seasons, you need more buckets. If our climate is becoming drier and precipitation events are less

frequent, we must take advantage of when it does rain or snow. We could guarantee adequate water supplies throughout California by storing 2.5 to 3-million more acre-feet (AF) of water per year. Federal funding for projects like the Temperance Flat Dam (1.3-million AF), Sites Reservoir (1.5-million AF), Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir, increasing the capacity of the San Luis and Los Vaqueros Reservoirs and raising Shasta Dam must be prioritized over the failed California High-Speed Rail (HSR) project. Not only will these projects increase water available for drier periods, but they would also provide water for wildlife refuges and help in the battle to recharge groundwater.

5. Properly manage the forests

Properly managed forests would dramatically reduce the frequency and severity of fires and increase the amount of water runoff into streams and underground aquifers. As wildfires increase in frequency and severity, the need to properly manage forests to a historic plant density is of the utmost importance. Our forests are between 80%-600% denser than they were a century ago and their floors are flush with highly flammable debris. We should reintroduce logging to help reduce density. We can also divert a percentage of the money set aside to fight wildfires and earmark it for forest management. These investments would restore the natural flow of runoff.

6. Invest in the development of desalination and reclamation facilities

The development of desalination plants and the reclamation of recycled water would dramatically reduce or eliminate the need to pump water over the Tehachapi Mountains. Today, a full functioning desalination plant can be built for just over $1 billion. We must make it a priority to secure funding for the construction of these facilities along the California coast before we spend another dime on HSR.

7. Minimize the economic impact of fallowed lands and help farmers effectively repurpose land

The amount of land used for agricultural purposes in California has dramatically increased since the turn of the 20th century thanks to advances in irrigation and the completion of the Central Valley Project. With new state initiatives like the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) set to ramp up, the reality is that some of this farmland must be fallowed. It is imperative that we work closely with farmers and other agricultural interests to ensure that the adverse economic impact of this is minimized. Doing so requires bringing farmers and scientists together to determine which lands are to be fallowed and how they can best be repurposed afterwards. Financial incentives must be provided to farmers to ease the economic burden of this process. The repurposing of these lands must be done in a manner that will not create the need for more water usage or lead to another Dust Bowl. Emphasis must be placed on converting these lands into wildlife refuges, recharge basins, renewable energy facilities, or parks.

While Valley Democrats like Adam Gray and his mentor Jim Costa claim victory over passage of the trillion-dollar “infrastructure” bill, there’s no reason to believe the $1.5 billion that’s been allocated in it for local water projects is enough to do anything more than place another band-aid on the problem. The people and farmers of the Central Valley deserve and must demand more from their congressman. Our Valley needs someone representing them who understand that leadership means taking ownership of an issue until the problem is fully solved. As this district’s next congressman, that’s the kind of leadership I will deliver regardless of the potential political consequences.