US Interior Secretary visits Madera County almond orchard, talks about drought crisis

Dale Yurong Image
Thursday, August 18, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland came to the Central Valley to talk about how funds will improve drought resiliency.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A day after President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland came to the Central Valley to talk about how funds will improve drought resiliency.

That sweeping bill also covers healthcare and taxes.

On an extremely hot day, the Interior Secretary saw first-hand the impacts of a dwindling water supply.

Haaland toured an almond orchard at the Specialty Crop Company in Madera County and learned how Valley farmers are dealing with drought conditions.

This site was selected in part because of these fallowed fields which used to grow crops.

The Interior Secretary met with both farmers and local water agencies during her Valley visit.

"One thing became abundantly clear - the worsening drought crisis across the West is not just bad for business and farms, it's an existential threat to our communities and to our livelihoods," she said.

Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, $8.3 billion is set aside for US Reclamation projects.

Repair work has started on the aging Friant-Kern Canal, which is sinking in some areas due to subsidence - the settling of earth because of excessive groundwater pumping.

Funds will also go towards improving dams and water recycling projects.

"New projects that this funding will support along with state funding is groundwater recharge projects. We know that we have tremendous capacity to store water underground," said California's Secretary of Natural Resources, Wade Crowfoot.

The Inflation Reduction Act will provide $4 billion in funding for water management and conservation efforts in Western states.

"With these extremes that we are facing because of climate change, extreme droughts and then extreme winters, we've got to better manage this water system," said Rep. Jim Costa.

The group was joined by the Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner and state ag secretary.

Also, on Wednesday in Huron, a USDA official announced a $247,000 investment to provide reliable drinking water to families in rural Fresno County.