Caballero Concerned with the State Water Board’s River Flow Regulations Calls for Study to Consider Impact on Agriculture Jobs

Monday, August 20, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Anna M. Caballero (D-Salinas) today stated she will immediately call a legislative hearing to consider the economic impact of the final draft flow plan for the Lower San Joaquin River on the agriculture industry and residents. “Instead of proceeding with this devastating and reckless plan, as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, I demand a hearing and study to determine the actual functional flows required to improve fisheries, while protecting the economies of rural communities.”

Assemblymember Caballero expressed her concerns about the State Water Resources Control Board’s (the Board) recently released final draft flow plan during her appearance at the Stop the Water Grab Rally held today on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento.

“The Board’s final draft plan for the Lower San Joaquin River will result in the loss of 5,000 - 10,000 agriculture jobs in the Central Valley. This is unacceptable. It will decimate small, rural communities, many of which are already at an economic disadvantage.”

“Economic loss will be in the billions of dollars. Hundreds of millions will be lost in wages. This region already suffers from double-digit unemployment rates, I do not think the Board understands the impact this will have” said Caballero.

Assemblymember Caballero calls for the Board to gather stakeholders and look at existing data. The Board should consider non-flow factors such as habitat loss, predators, and pollution, which can affect survival rates of fish and other species. Accurate models accounting for these multiple factors can be built so that the state proceeds with caution and with all the requisite knowledge. 

Additionally, the state needs to strengthen the connection between surface and groundwater management in an integrated manner. The final draft plan seems to have been issued without due consideration of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

“Unfortunately, because the Board issued the final draft plan without an understanding of planning for impacts to SMGA-related issues, such as groundwater recharge, there is no way to know what the full impact of this decision will have on the availability of water for agriculture, farmworkers, and rural communities. We believe it will be catastrophic.”