Since California Democratic Governor Jerry Brown imposed water restrictions on the state’s residents on April 1, people have suddenly become interested in what government officials have described as “one of the most severe droughts on record.”But for months, Republican Assemblywoman Shannon Grove -- who represents part of Kern County, the second largest agricultural sector in the country – has been trying to get the word out about how Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations apparently are literally draining water into the sea all for the sake of a three-inch fish.
“I put together this short video to explain the real cause of California’s water shortage problems, which everyone is paying attention to now that the Governor has imposed water restrictions on the entire state,” Grove wrote on her Facebook page on April 3, the day she reposted the video she first published back in September.
“Share it with your friends who need to know the truth,” Grove wrote.
The truth, Grove said, is that the Endangered Species Act and its effort to protect the tiny delta smelt has taken water away from farmers.
“All in all, California farmers fallowed about 500,000 acres of land this year,” the Wall Street Journal reported in June 2014. “But here's the thing: much of this land could have been productive had the state stored up more water from wet years and not flushed 800,000 acre-feet into the San Francisco Bay last winter and an additional 445,000 acre-feet this spring to safeguard the endangered delta smelt.”
“That's enough for roughly three million households to live on and to irrigate 600,000 acres of land,” the WSJ reported.
According to the University of California-Davis, this represents the “greatest water loss ever seen” for California agriculture and resulted in the loss of 17,000 seasonal and part-time jobs.
“Does that make any sense?” Grove asked in the video. “Are these fish that valuable?
“Should we always put fish over humans?” Grove asked.
“So I have one more question to ask you,” Grove said. “What civilized society destroys its own food source for a three-inch fish?”
Grove went to talk to farmers about the drought, including Larry Starrh, the third generation in his family to work the land.
“It’s funny how back in the day drought was, you know, you would see dry conditions and you’d deal with it,” Starrh said. “But now you got added conditions … and I don’t think we can blame the weather for it.
“Today’s drought I think is more politically driven than weather-related,” Starrh said, and added that he doesn’t remember these kinds of problems until Congress passed the Endangered Species Act in 1973.
“Until that happened we were fine,” Starrh said. “We got through all our droughts with no issues.”