Assemblymember Jasmeet Bains of Delano has filed a measure that would require the state to construct physical barriers to prevent saltwater intrusion in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The saline water jeopardizes farms and drinking water and shuts off pumping operations for water projects. For the last two years, the state has flushed out the salinity using freshwater flows and a temporary rock wall at one pinch point.
“Water is too precious a resource to use so wastefully,” said Bains. “It’s time for the state to engineer a better solution.”
In her first weeks in office, the medical doctor has come to defend agriculture in the Capitol. Juxtaposing the impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act with a major bank collapse, she argued that “while Silicon Valley investors get bailed out, San Joaquin Valley farmers get hosed.”
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Bains has authored another bill seeking to protect ag from a Southern California water grab. It would prevent Los Angeles and its powerful water district from increasing imports from the San Joaquin Valley and the Delta to offset a potential federal order for water conservation along the Colorado River.
Bains called LA’s thirst insatiable and argued “they need to learn to live within their water means.” She added that green lawns in the city are “simply not as important as growing food.”
The bill rekindles an old north-south rivalry over how much water the state should dedicate to building cities in an arid region.