Recovery Funds $40 Million for California Drought
Deputy Secretary David Hayes talks about California water investments.
Music/Announcer: "This is a Podcast from the U.S. Department of the Interior"
Ron Tull: “On Thursday July 30 the Department of the Interior announced that the Bureau of Reclamation will use $40 million dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund emergency drought relief projects in California.
With us today, Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes, who in April was appointed by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar as the lead federal official on California water issues. Deputy Secretary Hayes, why all the emphasis on California?”
Deputy Secretary David Hayes: “First of all, the economy of California is central to the United States. The economic pain that’s being felt in California is among the most acute in the nation. The need for water in California is paramount and the combination of these things has put California at the top of our priority list from January 20th on.
To illustrate the point of how important California is, the entire water budget for the recovery act is about a billion dollars. Fully a third of that we’re spending in California. So we are totally focused on making the recovery act dollars work for California and then in partnering with the state in a way that has not happened in the recent past to help solve the continuing conflicts around water and the environment and we’re going to continue to stay on the job.”
Ron Tull: “This $40 million in emergency drought relief is going to benefit 16 water districts, 15 tribes and three wildlife refuges primarily in the San Joaquin region of the Central Valley. Will it take long for the effects of this money to be felt?”
Deputy Secretary David Hayes: “This money is ready to go right now. Folks have put in proposals, proposals have been accepted. The paperwork is getting done, the money will flow.
Up to $40 million will be available through a program that now has identified specific projects that have essentially earned the right to spend this money. Most of those projects are in the Central Valley. They provide opportunities for emergency access to water and essentially enable the stretching of limited water supplies."
Ron Tull: “So moving forward, what is the future for California water?”
Deputy Secretary David Hayes: “There has to be a light at the end of the tunnel. What the Delta Vision group recommended was that we manage the delta and the California water situation for two goals simultaneously. One is environmental sustainability, the other is delivery of water reliably and that’s what we have to do. I think to some extent the crisis that we’ve had with a third year of drought, the pain that’s been felt on all sides is motivating everyone to find a long-term solution at the same time that we try to work through these very severe short-term challenges.”
Ron Tull: “Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes, thank you for your time. Find out more about Department of the Interior recovery investments at http://recovery.doi.gov. This podcast is a presentation of the U.S. Department of the Interior; I'm Ron Tull, Washington.”