With forecasts pointing to the third dry year in a row, one Central Valley congressman is calling on the governor to take emergency action to secure more water for valley farmers. FM89's Joe Moore reports.
Speaking on Valley Public Radio's Valley Edition, Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) says that California water users are facing possibly their biggest shortage in over three decades.
"They should be braced for a water crisis that we've not seen the likes of since 1977, and every region of California is going to be impacted. And I am asking the Governor to consider issuing a drought declaration," says Costa.
The last designation from the state came in 2009, from then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was lifted by Governor Jerry Brown in 2011 after a wet winter filled reservoirs statewide.
Costa says that the emergency declaration is necessary to push the federal government to relax current restrictions on water deliveries.
"The picture that I am drawing to this administration is that they need to get off their high horse, they need to understand that people in the valley are hurting," says Costa.
Costa says he and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-San Francisco) have already urged officials with Department of the Interior to use the power they have under current environmental regulations to secure more water for both urban and agricultural users, but a drought declaration would help their case.
"Frankly I think that's where we're at, and I think that's going to be the next steps we're going to have to follow to get the administration to excessive whatever flexibility they can under the existing law to try to provide water in the valley and other parts of the state where needed," says Costa.
Last week forecasters with the State's Department of Water Resources predicted 2014 has a good chance of being the third dry year in a row . The department is projecting an initial water delivery to State Water Project contractors of just five percent. Costa says that unless December proves to be an exceptionally wet month, initial federal water allocations could be even less.