Rep. David Valadao (R-Bakersfield) lashed out at Democrats, including congressional opponent Amanda Renteria, on California’s urgent drought problem, saying Democrat policies will fail to provide relief for millions of Central Valley residents living with severe water shortages.
“Our forefathers expected droughts, we went through droughts, and we always prepared for the next one because there was always another one coming,” Valadao told The Hill this week. “And that’s why we built the infrastructure, the reservoirs, the canals, and all those types of things.”
“Since the ’80s, they’ve started making it harder and harder to use that infrastructure and to send the water out into the ocean instead of allowing it to come down here and help these communities survive, and that’s where the change is,” he continued. “We can’t make it rain, but it wouldn’t have been as bad if we’d been allowed to pump water and put it in storage… they’re saying fish are more important than the people who live here.”
The freshman congressman from California’s 21st District faces a rough reelection battle against Renteria, a Harvard-educated Democrat and the first Latina to serve as chief of staff in the Senate. According to The Hill, Valadao has adopted the Central Valley’s water problem as his “signature issue.”
The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that the entire Central Valley is in a state of “exceptional” drought, the most severe level possible. The University of California, Davis, has estimated that the drought will cost California $2.2 billion this year and will also cause the loss of about 17,000 statewide farm jobs.
Valadao is not the only one in the district blasting the allocation of water resources. Area farmers are angry after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began releasing 25,000 acre-feet of water from Northern California’s Trinity Lake to help protect the native salmon population on Saturday, even as farmers have repeatedly asked for more water to help grow food.
“It’s like having four thirsty kids in the car and saying you don’t have money for them to drink, and then you pull up on the street and give money to someone else,” area farmer Mark Borba told the Wall Street Journal.