Assemblymember Susan Eggman’s statement on emergency drought legislation passed today

Thursday, March 26, 2015

We are now in our fourth year of drought, and the regularity with which we adopt “emergency” drought measures demands either a rethink about what an emergency is, or about the exact kind of emergency we are in.

It is long past time that we think of ourselves as needing to adopt temporary measures to get us through a drought, and start thinking about the emergency being a continuing mismatch between our demand for water and nature’s supply of it.

When he introduced his emergency drought measures, Governor Brown talked about the need for California to make hard choices, but it’s long past time that even rationing can count as a hard choice.

The choices we have to make about water use are systemic. The hard choices we have to make are whether we are finally willing to transform a statewide water system designed and built around a supply of water that doesn’t exist. The hard choices have to include an acknowledgment that last century’s so-called solutions – the Twin Tunnels, for example – do not solve the actual crisis. The hard choice is patently not moving and using more water from a collapsing Delta.

The problem is massive and urgent, and so we need to expedite measures that are equal to the scale of the crisis. Last year the Legislature, under the leadership of Speaker Toni Atkins, did just that, successfully passing a bipartisan, consensus water bond that will, in the long term, meet some of our long-term needs.

The legislation we passed today meets immediate needs – there are people who simply need food and water, whose livelihoods have been seriously harmed by the drought, and this legislation will provide some relief. It also provides accelerated funding for water hyacinth removal, an urgent Delta problem, as well as for flood control projects the need for which will be immediately understood in my district, where, yes, flooding may still occur during a drought.

As always, I will guard vigilantly against the ongoing crisis being used to enable the continuation of a water policy that is disastrous, wasteful and unsustainable, in both human and environmental terms.