Wally Herger fails to protect our water

Kowtows to cronies, surrenders best protection tool

The author, an attorney in Fall River Mills, was the 2010 Democratic candidate for the District 2 House seat now held by Wally Herger.

A water provision in the recent House Republican funding legislation (the one in which new Tea Party representatives vowed to cut $100 billion from the federal budget) was inserted into the bill with little notice. It eliminates federal regulation of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, thereby allowing our Northern California water to flow unimpeded to Southern California.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Visalia) inserted this provision in the main bill. It has almost nothing to do with cutting the federal budget. I call it the functional equivalent of the now-illegal earmark. Wally Herger should have been yelling and screaming that this robbery of our water is improper in a funding bill. If the provision had been put into a separate bill, it probably would not have passed. But Herger remained silent, not wishing to upset his Republican cronies, who believe any kind of regulation is bad for the country, and voted in favor of the bill.

The reason our North State water is not completely sucked up by the people in Southern California is that our water, which ultimately flows into the Delta, is regulated by both the state and the federal governments. This combination of regulation and the people’s vote against a peripheral canal in 1983 have largely protected our water. But our governor, Jerry Brown, is firmly behind building a peripheral canal, and it is likely that only federal regulation in the future will protect our most valuable resource.

My complaint remains the same about Wally Herger: He has been in Washington, D.C., too long and is not paying attention to those local issues most important to the people he represents.

I am not a radical ecologist; I believe that, when there is surplus North State water, it can be sent to the farmers in Southern California. I support construction of increased water storage near the Delta so our excess water can be captured and sent south when both ends of the state need the water. But we cannot give up our best weapon in stopping the thirsty south from taking our water when we really need it.