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Trump Signs Water Infrastructure Act That May Change California Landscape

Author: Jeff Powers
Created: 23 October, 2018
Updated: 21 November, 2022
2 min read

San Diego, CALIF. - President Trump's Water Infrastructure Act could be one of the most significant pieces of legislation to impact the future of California. The act gives the US Army Corps of Engineers the ability to oversee projects and policies.

Importantly, the bipartisan measure passed the Senate 99-1.

Last week Trump signed a presidential memorandum to promote the “reliable supply” of water in the West.

The order gives the federal government the power to oversee major water infrastructure projects in California in which they could have reasonable jurisdiction under the Endangered Species Act so they could speed up environmental reviews and streamline regulations.

Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt called the memorandum last week the “most significant action taken by a president on western water issues in my lifetime.”

The Delta Smelt v. Historic Drought

Farmers in California have long warred with the environmental lobby over a species of tiny, three-inch fish: the delta smelt.

The decades long battle has seen environmentalists successfully lobby Sacramento to massively restrict the state's waterways, some say effectively crippling the states agriculture production. Farmers argue this has forced billions of gallons of freshwater to be dumped into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta instead of using it for farming.

The mainstream media has been quick to parrot the environmentalists talking point that the drought is the reason farming has suffered, not protecting the delta smelt.

Trump Administration To Re-evaluate 

As part of the Water Infrastructure Act, Trump has ordered the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Interior to examine the science of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allowed the water restrictions to go into effect.

Reports have shown that the policy in effect has not been effective in saving the smelt population.  In the years since the government reallocated much of the state's water to the delta smelt, its population has plummeted. In March 2014, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife counted 88 fish in a survey. One year later, that number was down to six.

"Lousy Fire Management"

President Trump also ripped California for its "lousy management" of the state's forests, telling state leaders to "get on the ball" and manage the forests better.

IVN Beyond the Headlines recently spoke with State Senator Ben Hueso, who chairs the committee responsible for the state's fire prevention plan. Hueso told IVN the state does in fact "need to do a better job" when it comes to managing the forests and preventing wildfires.

Trump threatened to withhold federal aid from the state as a result of future fires saying, “We're tired of giving California hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars all the time for their forest fires when you wouldn’t have them if they manage their forests properly."