Trump Quietly Busts up California’s Deep (Water) State

Jerry Brown took water meant for farmers and families, gave it to fish.

Gavin Newsom is taking water from farmers and families, giving it to fish.

President Trump is GIVING water to farmers and families.

Brown and Newsom want to create a crisis, kill job and raise the cost of food.

Trump wants to help the economy grow and lower the cost of food—and provide more jobs.

California newspaper have been silent on the ramifications of the Democrat policies vs. Trumps.  I hope in 2026, Trump has moved to California and runs for Governor—we need him to save what is left of the State.  As President he brought back businesses forced to leave the Country.  As Governor he can bring back the jobs and families the Democrats forced to leave the State.

The Tehama-Colusa Canal transports water to irrigate northern California agriculture and communities.

Trump Quietly Busts up California’s Deep (Water) State

Department of Water Resources and Fish and Game were using Cal-Fed (bond) funds to backfill their state budget deficits

By Wayne Lusvardi, California Globe,   2/1/20   

Before President Donald Trump was elected, on May 27, 2016 he stated at a rally in Fresno, California: “There is no drought…If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive.”

Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times responded on June 6 that Trump was “bloviating,” “oversimplifying a complicated problem” and cautioned that “putting one’s trust in Trump is the wrong place to start.” The national media scoffed at Trump’s seemingly preposterous boast (CNBC, Huffington Post, FactCheck.org, the Daily Beast, etc.). 

However, on January 15, 2020, the California Department of Water Resources “with virtually no public notice quietly gave away a significant portion of Southern California’s water to farmers in the Central Valley as part of a deal with the Trump administration in December 2018”. 

Trump’s deal will shift 217,000 acre-feet of water to farmers in dry years, which would irrigate about 72,333-acres of row crop land (113-square miles). Over 400,000 acres of land were left unused in the drought of 2014.

This new Trump water “deal” revised a compact dating back to 1986 on the percentage of water the federal and state water systems have to provide in wet and dry years. Even more quietly, this deal accomplished what all California governors since 1986, and powerful U.S. Senator and environmental advocate Diane Feinstein (D-California), could not do: potentially provide more water for farmers and “improve the health of the health of the river system” for fish .

The Deep (Water) State

In 1994 the Cal-Fed Bay-Delta Plan was initiated to reform the 1986 agreement as to the percentage of water the state and federal governments had to provide in wet and dry years.  This plan was created by former California Gov. Pete Wilson (R) and former federal Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt (D).  But in 34 years it went nowhere despite massive funding for its implementation. 

In 2006, the impartial California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) stated the Cal-Fed Plan had failed because the program had turned into “what looked like a statewide water management program” that was redundant with DWR’s functions. The state had taken over operating the water flows for both federal and state water systems to divert an additional 254,000 acre-feet of water in dry years from farmers and rivers toward Los Angeles.  That is enough imported water for about 1 million urban water users for one-half year during a “drought.”  Dry years in California are approximately 4 out of every 5 years on average. 

So-called drought in California is normal; it is wet years that are abnormal. 

In 2005-2006 the California state budget had allocated $324 million to Cal-Fed, of which 38.8 percent went to the Bay-Delta Authority for what never became quite clear; 38.6 percent was spent on “ecosystem restoration,” 10.7 percent on “science,” 2.8 percent on a failed experiment to create an environmental water market by buying water from farmers and diverting it to the environment, water storage 2.7 percent and 2.3 percent went for Cal-Fed program management (see Cal-Fed budget here).  10.6 percent went to “water conveyance”, but that was already a function of the DWR.

The California state budget was suffering a shortfall in 2006, so apparently the Department of Water Resources and Fish and Game were using Cal-Fed (bond) funds to backfill their state budget deficits.  The state LAO found that Cal-Fed’s “behind closed doors” approach to financing Cal-Fed “was not a good way to make policy”.

The funding sources for the $324 million Cal-Fed program in 2005-06 were mainly from the $3.4 billion Proposition 50 water bond ($232.7 million), other water bonds ($47.9 million), state water project funds (from farmers – $29.7 million) and the state general fund ($11.5 million).

This mismanagement brought about four independent audits of the Cal-Fed program by the Little Hoover Commission, Department of Finance (2), and private consulting firm KPMG. The Hoover Commission described the Cal-Fed organizational structure as “convoluted” and the LAO found “no one was in charge” of the program. It is little wonder Cal-Fed went nowhere. It essentially functioned as a slush fund and environmental jobs program to divert funding to state agencies, pet projects and extra water to Los Angeles in dry years. 

By 2009 the 14-year old Cal-Fed Program was drowning in bureaucracy and was dissolved. Even Zeke Grader, the Director of the Pacific Coast Fishermen’s Associations said “they should put a bullet through its head.”  The Bay-Delta Program had failed in restoring fish populations in rivers.  Environmentalists attributed the end of the program to when “Republicans toppled the Democratic Congress in the 1994 midterm congressional election and Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America”. 

In 2009 the Bay Delta Program was replaced by the new Delta Stewardship Council but restoring at-risk fish was not part of their mission. From 2011 to 2019 Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown was never able to bring about fish restoration or a “Delta-Fix.” The environmentalist “California Water Research” blog states that new Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Water Resilience Portfolio is shaping up to look a lot like the Cal-Fed Program” in its seeking huge funding outlays for habitat restoration. 

Trump’s Confidential “Art of the Deal”

What Trump may have used as a bargaining chip to pull this new water deal off with oppositional California is anyone’s guess.  The head of the Restore the Delta nonprofit, Barbara-Barrigan Parilla is quoted by email to TV station KCET: “We have heard rumors for a year that the Department of Water Resources agreed to Trump’s Coordinated Operation Agreement (COA) addendum so that they could secure federal funding for the Delta tunnel.” But this was denied by John Leahigh of DWR

Of course, this is California, so the water sharing arrangement in the Trump deal is pending a lawsuit by the Fishermen’s Associations over the following water withdrawal percentages:

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. In Ca any water problem can be laid at the feet of environmentalists every time. What we need is storage areas and they have consistently stopped the building of any dams since 1979. When the voters passed a bond act for water storage dams a few years ago no dams were even looked. When the feds were ready to raise an existing dam by almost 20 feet they were stopped by the environmentalists.. Instead pumping water into the san juaquin river they let it run out to sea. Wasting it. All this waste to save the delta smelt that gets caught in the pumps when all they have to do is farm the damn fish and the river could have all the water it needed. Not mention you would have lots of free hydro electricity.

  2. Leave the Northern California Rivers ALONE. Only an absolute idiot would think that they can divert all the water from Northern Ca. rivers to Southern Ca. and everything would be rosy . There are so many ( already paid for ) remedies other than devastating tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Northern
    Ca. residents that live along the river and or have businesses that are dependent on the rivers . Build the Reservoirs promised in So. Ca. !!!! We paid for them several times over . Build De-Sal plants , an inexhaustible source of water. The environmentalists keep pretending that the rising Ocean waters will destroy all of our coastal cities soon so why not take a few billion gallons of water a year out of it ???? Stop the rising Ocean waters , right ? All these cons claiming that the rives up here are wasting water and that it should all be shipped to Southern California can stick it where the sun don’t shine.
    From the Sword of —–

  3. I HAVE LIVED IN CALIF SINCE 1945..,ON THE SAN JUAQUIN RIVER..THE ENVIROMENTALIST HAVE PREVENTED US FROM BUILDING ANY DAMS FOR 5 DECADES, MANAGE THE FOREST CORRECTLY FOR 4 DECADES.. ALSO, I HAVE DONE A SURVEY ON STARAGE, & THE AVERAGE SILT BUILD UP IS 48%. OTHERWISE SINCE THE 50S WE CAN ONLY HOLD 1/2 THE AMOUNT TO USE FOR AG & A POPULATION THAT HAS DOUBLED + .SINCE I HAVE LIVED IN THE SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST ,I ALONG WITH THE CATTLEMEN & LOGGERS KNOW THE BEST WAY TO MANAGE IT. LIBERALS IN THIS STATE HAVE TURNED IT INTO ONE OF THE WORST STATES TO LIVE IN ,TODAY..EVERY CITY IS FILLED WITH HOMELESS (LIBERAL CAUSED BY INVITING NOT ONLY LOW LIFES FROM OTHER STATES, BY ILLEGAL ALIENS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD..SO WITH THAT BEING SAID, I AM 100% BEHIND PRESIDENT TRUMP & THE REPUBLICAN PARTY….THANK GOD WE HAVE PRESIDENT TRUMP & OUR REPUBLICAN POLITITIONS WHO ARE DOING A GREAT JOB GOV, NOW WE NEED TO LIBS TO GOV (NOT OBSTRUCT) TO MAKE CALIF GREAT AGAIN..

  4. Barbara Nicholson says

    President Trump can resolve the water problems let him handle it. The demos have had many years to fix it and have not.

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