Ag Today July 23, 208

Interior Secretary Zinke visits reservoirs, signaling federal interest in water fight

July 20, 2018 04:54 PM

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke paid a visit Friday to two reservoirs that are embroiled in an intense fight over water allocations in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

The visit from a high-level official in the Trump administration raised hopes from local farmers and irrigation districts that federal intervention will stop a state Water Board proposal to allocate more water from New Melones and Don Pedro reservoirs to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The state proposal also calls for increased Merced River flows.

Zinke was accompanied by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, whose two amendments to block part of the state’s “water grab” passed the House of Representatives on Thursday. Zinke, along with Congressman Tom McClintock, sat at a picnic table to talk with media at Don Pedro.

“I do believe part of the solution in California is more storage,” said Zinke, who oversees millions of acres of federal land and natural resources. In contrast to regional battles in the West over Colorado River water, Zinke said, water is plentiful in the Sierra watersheds for meeting needs.

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