California

“We have third-world conditions.” Arambula one of few holdouts in requesting drought emergency

A handful of local politicians are still sitting on the sidelines as Gov. Gavin Newsom is resisting a push to declare a state of emergency in the San Joaquin Valley over severe drought conditions.

The entire state has seen increasing drought conditions leading economists to predict 85,000 jobs may be lost due to persist drought conditions.

They say the governor has failed to act despite politicians at all levels in the valley asking him to declare a statewide drought emergency.

“We are still recovering from the last drought,” Asm. Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) said at a press conference. “We have places in the San Joaquin Valley where we have third-world conditions due to water currently.”

Over a dozen local elected officials recently sent a letter requesting Newsom declare an emergency.

Newsom has failed to introduce water restrictions in the San Joaquin Valley despite mounting pressure to do so. Instead, he made emergency declarations in Mendocino and Sonoma counties, which are popular for winemaking.

“With the Governor’s drought declaration today in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, the Central Valley can’t afford to be overlooked,”  Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman state Sen. Andreas Borgeas (R–Fresno) said at a press conference. “California is in a drought. We need a statewide emergency declaration immediately in order to deliver more water to farmers and growers in the Valley.”

Meanwhile, the San Joaquin Valley – which is responsible for the majority of nearly 13 percent of all of the agricultural products consumed in the United States – was left out.

Only a dwindling share of elected officials have not publicly pressured Newsom to declare an emergency.

Asm. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) is one of those who did not join a letter written to Newsom requesting an emergency declaration.

Arambula is a notable Newsom supporter who seems disinclined to break ranks with the governor’s lack of action on the San Joaquin valley drought problems.

The is despite the USDA’s March 5 emergency declaration including several counties in the San Joaquin Valley region as primary areas of concern.

“The Central Valley is responsible for putting food on the table for the rest of the nation, and farmers and ranchers simply cannot grow the food we need without reliable access to water,” Golden State Republicans on Capitol Hill said in a statement. “Our local economies are crippled by water scarcity, and by ignoring the needs of the Central Valley, the lack of action by Governor Newsom in addressing this crisis is a failure to lead.”

Without appropriate conditions tin the San Joaquin Valley the rest of the country is likely to suffer.  As such, Borgeas and Robert Rivas (D–Hollister) sent a letter signed by a local group of politicians to Newsom demanding a declaration.

Joining Borgeas and Rivas were Sens. Shannon Grove (R–Bakersfield) and Anna Caballero (D–Salinas), and Assembly members Vince Fong (R–Bakersfield), Rudy Salas (D–Bakersfield), Devon Mathis (R–Visalia), Jim Patterson (R–Fresno), Frank Bigelow (R–O’Neals), Heath Flora (R–Ripon) and Adam Gray (D–Merced).

“We persist in pushing the Governor to take this action because what we know is it gives us an opportunity to start right now – not waiting five months or six months or two months – right now to make the adjustments that we need to make in order to ensure that there is water flowing to the Valley,” Sen. Anna Caballero (D–Salinas) said at a press conference held after Newsom ignored them.

Arambula did not respond to interview requests in time for publication.

He has spoken out in favor of adequate reponse to drought conditions before.

Newsom is currently undergoing a recall effort expected to come to the ballot in October.

Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.