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Central Valley leaders call on Newsom to declare a drought emergency

California Drought
Posted at 3:31 PM, Apr 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-30 20:58:49-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Assemblyman Vince Fong was one of several Central Valley officials at a news conference Friday morning, calling for Governor Gavin Newsom to declare a regional drought emergency in the valley's eight counties.

The call for action was organized by State Senator Andreas Borgeas in Fresno.

“It would legally allow for the relaxation of certain regulatory, administrative, and environmental restraints," Borgeas said.

“So that we could begin to move water throughout the water system to the Central Valley and to Southern California," Fong said.

Fong argues the state has water stored, and it should be freed up for use. This comes as Kern County farmers are already feeling the effects of drought.

Assemblyman Fong argues the state has water stored away in the state water management project, but it’s not being used properly. This comes as Kern County farmers are already feeling the effects of drought.

Murray family farms owner Steve Murray says they’ve been ordered to begin conserving water May 1, with the intent to have that water last for 5 months.

“The consequence will be more defects in your fruit next year, it’ll have more siamese twin cherries, and sutures and spurs," he said.

Murray says the state’s declaration of a drought emergency would not change his situation because Murray Family Farms gets its water from federal water sources. He says many other farms use state-sourced water that would be able to benefit from an emergency declaration.

“The main source of water to Kern County is the state water project," Fong said.

Last week, Governor Newsom declared a regional emergency in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties in Northern California. That only happened after those two counties made a plea to the governor, similar to the one in Fresno Friday morning.

“Hopefully that will indicate to the governor the seriousness of this crisis," Fong said.