Interior Secretary Jewell underscores Administration support for California during historic drought

Tours Byron pumping plant with Federal and State Officials

SecretaryJewellPumpingPlantByron 1 1024x651 Interior Secretary Jewell underscores Administration support for California during historic drought

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell (in blue) talks with Paul Stearns, Operations Manager and Frances Mizuno, Deputy Executive Director (San Luis & Delta Mendota Water Authority) at the federal C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant in Byron, California on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014. Jewell was touring the facility to examine the water storage and conveyance facility in response to the draught. Special to the Antioch Herald/Photo by Victoria Sheridan

SACRAMENTO, CA – During a visit to California this week, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell examined the on-the-ground conditions of the historic drought and related water issues and reiterated the full support of the Obama Administration to provide relief and support in partnership with California.

The visit comes on the heels of President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015, which includes $1 billion government-wide for a Climate Resilience Fund to invest in developing more resilient communities, and finding solutions to climate challenges through technology development and applied research. It also proposes $1 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation, including $118.6 million to fund operations, management and improvements within the Central Valley Project in California.

The Administration remains committed to an ‘all in’ approach to the federal response to drought conditions in the West,” said Secretary Jewell. “I commend Governor Brown and state officials for their response thus far, and I will continue to work closely with the state to ensure a balanced and coordinated approach to providing for the water needs of people, agriculture, businesses, power, and the environment.”

California is working closely with its federal partners to deal with the drought and prepare our state for other extreme weather events,” said California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. “This current drought is just a portent of things to come and it underscores the importance of swift action on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.”

Secretary Jewell and California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird today toured water storage and conveyance facilities in Central California and met with agricultural water users who rely on water exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Jewell applauded the ongoing collaborative federal-state response efforts.

The Administration is committed to long-term water supply improvements and environmental restoration in California,” said Jewell. “We are working closely with the state to complete the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and take other important actions that will achieve the dual goals of a reliable water supply for California and a healthy Bay Delta ecosystem that supports the state’s economy.”

President Obama’s FY2015 budget includes $66.5 million for WaterSMART programs, nearly a 17 percent increase from 2014, to assist communities in stretching water supplies and improving water management. This funding supports the Department’s goal to increase by 840,000 acre-feet the available water supply for agricultural, municipal, industrial, and environmental uses in the Western United States through water-conservation programs by the end of 2015. To date, WaterSMART projects have successfully produced 730,000 acre-feet toward that goal.

As called for in the President’s Climate Action Plan, the National Drought Resilience Partnership is coordinating federal preparedness for drought and is working closely with the state of California, local government, agriculture, and other partners to improve community preparedness and resilience to drought. The partnership includes the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Energy, and Commerce (NOAA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Environmental Protection Agency.

Following Governor Brown’s declaration of a Drought State of Emergency on January 17, the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce began working with the state of California to provide operational flexibility to store and convey water, expedite environmental review and compliance actions, and pursue new or fast-track existing projects that might help stretch California’s water supplies.

I want to commend the state and federal teams on their response to the dry conditions through changes in water operations, promoting water conservation, water recycling and seeking every opportunity to provide the water needed for beneficial uses,” said Bureau of Reclamation Acting Commissioner Lowell Pimley. “I also want to thank the water users of California, from the largest water contractors to individual businesses to each and every household for their efforts to reduce consumption. With the ongoing drought and long-term water resource challenges associated with a changing climate, increasing population and diminishing supply – protection and conservation of precious water resources is critical.”

Reclamation operates the Central Valley Project to provide water for more than 3 million acres of land in the top agricultural producing counties in the nation’s leading farm state. The California Department of Food and Agriculture reported in its 2012 California Agricultural Highlights publication that farm production in the state totaled more than $43 billion. About a third of that production, or about $12 billion, came from the Central Valley. The Central Valley Project also delivers water supplies for municipalities, industrial uses, and fish, wildlife and environmental purposes.

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