Devin Nunes and others join to discuss water solutions for Central Valley

TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- A group of about 600 people made up mostly of farmers and other professionals came to the international Agri-Center to listen as Congressman Devin Nunes and the secretary of interior offered water solutions for the Central Valley, backed by many years of research.

"We should definitely celebrate because it's a great day for the Valley," Nunes said.

The Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt offered new biological opinions that would produce specific changes to water allocations to provide farmers the flexibility to grow more acres of farmland and expand the water transfer window to July through November.

"It's a new plan of how we move water, manage water and allocate water based on new technology, better science, real-time monitoring and temperature control management," Bernhardt said.

Experts say it's all designed to take care of impacted species in a positive manner and, at the same time, do it in a way that's much less wasteful.

"This is the first water we've been able to get back in over 50 years," Nunes said. "Many people have tried, but it took this administration and the secretary of interior to make it happen."

The biological opinions would allow restrictions to be lifted on water supplies and increase pumping during storms when fish are not endangered.

"That's big news for the Valley because it does mean more water for not only farms but for cities down here as well," says Fresno Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen.

Jacobsen was encouraged by what he heard during Tuesday's forum as Kern County gets set to welcome President Trump on Wednesday.

"I expect the president to come into the Valley and tout what these biological opinions are going to do for not just farms, but the cities as well," Jacobsen said. "We are talking on average over a quarter of a million feet that will hopefully come to the Valley, which was historically lost."

The biological opinions would also call for Shasta Dam to be raised and restoration of the Friant-Kern Canal.
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