Oct 19, 2018, 8:00 PM ET

Trump wades into California water wars, calls for diverting water to farmers in central valley


President Donald Trump is wading into California's water wars, demanding speedy action by the federal government to divert much-needed water resources to Republican-leaning farmers in California's central valley — a move sure to infuriate left-leaning environmentalists on the west coast.

Signing a presidential memorandum in Arizona this afternoon, the president set into motion a plan that's expected to benefit farmers who have complained about water restrictions intended to protect endangered fish and other species.

“This is a vital action ... to improve access to water in the American West,” President Trump said, signing the memorandum. “They've taken it away, they have so much water and they don't know what to do with it and they send it out to sea.”

Republicans quickly responded, calling the decision a clear win for communities in the West.

Environmentalists argue that diverting water to farmers will decimate endangered Delta smelt and Chinook Salmon. The president’s action today will speed up the environmental review and approval process needed to create the infrastructure needed to divert the water.

Earlier this year, as 17 fires ravaged California, Trump falsely claimed that the state government was mismanaging water supplies that should be available to fight the infernos, even though firefighters there said access to water was not a problem.

Environmentalists feared at the time that the president was using the wildfires as a smokescreen for wading into a deeply controversial fight between farmers and conservationists.

The memo Trump signed Friday calls on the Interior Department and Commerce Department to speed up infrastructure projects, including water desalination and recycling, and clarify how to manage water while continuing to follow environmental laws and the Endangered Species Act.

“The big problem was the federal approvals that were un-gettable and now they are very gettable and we're going to have them in a very short period of time,” Trump said.

“This will move things along at a record clip, and you have a lot of water, I hope you enjoy the water that you're going to have ... great for the farmers, great for the people, great for recreation,” Trump said.

The president’s action today is sure to anger the local authorities in California, who will see this as federal overreach, but it's also sure to please his political allies in the state with midterms just two-and-a-half weeks away.

News - Trump wades into California water wars, calls for diverting water to farmers in central valley

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  • Solanum

    “They've taken it away, they have so much water and they don't know what to do with it and they send it out to sea.”

    No, Donnie. We don't have 'so much water'. We have little water and we prefer to manage it ourselves, for farmers, for fishing and recreation, for the ecosystems, for the people.

  • RettasVegas

    GOP in CA must be cringing every time this ignorant old fool drools, they can never be sure just what TrumPutin will spew out.

  • HomerIsBlind

    Every time Trump opens his mouth something ignorant and false flies out.

  • charlie1958

    Whatever happened to Republicans screaming, states rights?

  • Thermopylae

    Since California is all about recycling why don"t they recycle all the water the people use? That would be a major win for California.

  • Doug Blasco

    "...they don't know what to do with it and they send it out to sea.” Those are called rivers and that is what they do.

  • A C

    "I hope you enjoy what you are GOING to have." Sounds just like a tone deaf politician, right and left.

  • badhairpiece

    Mono Lake, eastern Sierra land owners, and a guy named William Mulholland... worth Googling. I've got to think Trump is related to this crook.

  • GarfieldRocks

    Did anyone from California ever ask Donald to butt in?

  • Mark Hallen

    "They have so much water" is definitely not a good description of California.

  • ctla567

    Farmers can't sell their crops anyway so why bother and hurt somebody else.

  • Nala

    trump also claims that CA is **dumping** fresh water into the ocean which proves he is a total idiot

  • PerchLady

    Trump seems hell bent on having the federal government take over states' rights. The Department of the Interior is a key figure in this 'takeover'. National monuments are being opened up for mining, drilling and logging. The BLM, part of Interior, has deemed the wild horses as destructive on federal lands though their numbers pale in comparison to the cattle and sheep grazing on fed land. Our coastlines may be opened up for oil drilling, a hot issue in Virginia, where residents adamantly disapprove. Yet Trump claims he knows more about these subjects than anyone... just like he knows more about economics, military logistics, medical care, climate change and veteran issues. He just doesn't have a clue on morals.

  • Shonisaurus

    Solar desalination facilities might help.

  • Shonisaurus

    I'm not so sure I buy the validity of the "Hoards of Hondurans Heading North" videos. They could be going to a bull fight.

  • Shonisaurus

    The right wants to dry up a few rivers that support thriving populations of native salmon because they are so conservative.

  • Shonisaurus

    You know conservation.

  • Erwin Schrodinger

    These idiots need a check on their destructive agenda. If you care about the planet or American environment, vote this November like your children's future depends on it... because it does!

  • Shonisaurus

    A crop can lay fallow for dry seasons and produce again when the drought is over, but if you destroy a fishery it's gone.

  • Eggs Ackley

    The last California farmers should be raising is rice.

  • Eggs Ackley

    California agriculture already uses something like 80% of the water. The water that Trump claims they are dumping into the sea is run off water from the rain. Someone proposed capturing that run off but a system has not been developed yet. Trump is misinformed and uninformed.

  • snakeice64

    Trump knows not what he is getting into! The California water wars are 100 years plus and running still. Check out a book called "The King of California" and it gives you insight into the California water wars that are still going on. Current California governor's dad Pat Brown was smack in the middle of it and so was current governor of California Jerry Brown in is first time as governor. Vicious stuff.

  • Prophet With Honor

    There is nothing worse than a clueless meddler.

  • Groingo

    Just more of Dimwit Donny getting involved in something he knows nothing about as usual, he doesn’t read, doesn’t listen only uses his reptilian brain (size of a pea....maybe) to make decisions.....common descriptive word....IDIOT.

  • Nothing Fancy

    Trump hates blue states, watch out California.

  • SJC

    This is none of his concern, he lost the state BIGLY.

  • larryroth702

    Trump ONLY helps his base......if you are not part of his base you are SOL. It is not enough to be a fellow American, you MUST be a sycophant or you don't exist.

  • T.J.

    It amazes me that in a state with water issues almonds are one of the biggest crops considering it takes so much water to grow them :( The words in the song The Last Resort by the eagles spring to mind.... "call someplace paradise kiss it goodbye....."

  • Ctrygrl

    “This will move things along at a record clip, and you have a lot of
    water, I hope you enjoy the water that you're going to have ... great
    for the farmers, great for the people, great for recreation,” Trump

    Really bad for the environment and therefore in the long run for people. With the tariffs however what are the farmers supposed to do with the extra stuff they might grow. They cannot even sell what they are producing now.

  • Stephen Bishop

    And he demands California stop the wildfires. Hilarious.

  • What?

    Big government is BAD, except when it works to the advantage of my rabid base.

  • Rabbit2011

    He hopes we enjoy the water that we're going to have. Huh? Is he going to make it rain, too? The West has been in a drought for quite awhile. We have trouble filling up the water storage areas we have now because we aren't getting enough rain to fill them up. Farmers are drilling deeper and deeper to find water and the ground is sinking because we have so little water. Trump just made a promise that he can't keep.

  • Bill Exley

    Water = the next oil.

  • CaptnBlynd

    Farmers grow food. I do not eat conservationists.Give the water back to the farmers you stole it from in the first place. I like food.

  • kritikosman

    He (trump) should wade into an intrepid tonsorial shop! 💈

  • mountainlady

    California seems to be managing fine. Trump should respect state's rights and butt out!! Huge corporate agro business dominates water use as it is leaving citizens with dry taps.

  • Nearl56 12

    Trump can’t help but monkey around with everything, putting everything in to a state of imbalance.