WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – Last week, President Trump inserted himself directly in a decadeslong internal water battle between Northern and Southern California.
Now, the debate is heading to court.
“I’m very disappointed the Governor decided to sue. We’ve been working very closely with the state of California,” said Brenda Burman, the commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation.
After years on the sidelines, the Burman said new federal plans to divert water from the delta region in Northern California to farms in the southern part of the state will bring water where it’s needed most.
“It is meant to balance all of the factors. More for people, more reliable for some of the best farmland in the world, more reliable for fish as well,” Burman said.
But for decades, environmentalists and the fishing industry argued pumping threatens endangered fish species.
Burman said new technology addresses that.
“If there are fish in the system we won’t pump as much water,” Burman said.
But in their lawsuit, California’s state leaders say the fish will face extinction under the plan. They also say the plan undermines the state’s effort to bring all sides to the negotiating table.
“We had an opportunity to come to really meaningful negotiation. Instead, this is going to end up in decades of litigation,” Rep. Josh Harder, D-California, said.
Congressman Harder said his Central Valley constituents want to see these longtime debates resolved without federal interference.
“Most farmers in the entire valley want this through negotiation,” Harder said.
But now, it’s unclear whether any negotiation will continue while the issue plays out in courts.