The Arizona Republic

Trump wants to hasten water projects in West

- Dan Elliott and Jonathan J. Cooper President Donald Trump

DENVER – President Donald Trump on Friday ordered the government to speed up environmen­tal reviews and streamline regulation­s that he says are hindering work on major water projects in California and other Western states.

Trump signed a memorandum aimed at helping the Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project in California, the Klamath Irrigation Project in Oregon and California and the Columbia River Basin system in the Pacific Northwest.

“We will resolve the issues blocking the completion of the Central Valley project,” Trump said in Arizona during a swing through Western states. “I hope you enjoy the water that you’re going to have.”

The Central Valley Project is a federally managed water storage and delivery system that primarily benefits agricultur­al users in California’s rich farming country in the center of the state.

The State Water Project serves agricultur­al and urban water users, including Los Angeles and much of sprawling Southern California.

The announceme­nt is a boost for endangered Republican lawmakers in California’s Central Valley facing tough challenges from Democrats looking to take control of the U.S. House.

But it is likely to inflame an ongoing battle in California over divvying up water among cities, farms and environmen­tal needs like the protection of fish.

Farming interests have long pushed to raise Shasta Dam, which holds back California’s largest reservoir as part of the Central Valley Project, by more than 18 feet. The project is opposed by environmen­talists who say it would harm threatened fish species and by the Winnemem Wintu tribe, which says it would flood sacred sites.

Several other dams are proposed including Sites Reservoir near Sacramento and Temperance Flat Dam north of Fresno.

“This order stems from ignorance and election year pandering to wealthy Central Valley agribusine­ss interests,” said John Buse, legal director with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Buse said Trump does not understand complex water issues and ignores

“I hope you enjoy the water that you’re going to have.”

While visiting Arizona

the need to protect the environmen­t as well as farming and cities.

“Trump’s view that water is wasted if not used by agricultur­e or urban users is just idiotic,” he said.

Among other things, Trump’s memorandum orders separate federal agencies to consolidat­e their environmen­tal reviews of California water projects and the Klamath Irrigation Project.

“From our standpoint, it’s really encouragin­g and we feel like we’re being listened to,” said Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance in Klamath, Oregon.

Trump also set a 2020 deadline to finish an environmen­tal review underway in the Columbia River Basin.

The president has long promised to boost water deliveries to California farmers, who have struggled to get by with less during years of drought.

“Today’s action might be the most significan­t action taken by a president on Western water issues in my lifetime,” said Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. He said Trump is making good on his promise to take a “more coordinate­d and thoughtful approach” to managing water while eliminatin­g what he called unneeded burdens.

The memorandum also called for better use of technology in forecastin­g water supplies and hydropower production, and for exploring desaliniza­tion and water recycling.

 ?? RICH PEDRONCELL­I/AP ?? Houseboats float in the drought-lowered waters of Oroville Lake near Oroville, Calif., in 2014.
RICH PEDRONCELL­I/AP Houseboats float in the drought-lowered waters of Oroville Lake near Oroville, Calif., in 2014.

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