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A Key Focus at the Kern County Water Summit

By Valley Ag Voice Staff

On March 4th, the Water Association of Kern County hosted their annual Water Summit.  This gathering of local water leaders, farmers, and community leaders provides updates on all issues water related.  This year’s focus was no different, but a key topic addressed by many speakers was the introduction of the Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley.

Scott Hamilton the Technical Water Committee Chairman for the Blueprint was one of the early speakers of the day.  While taking questions, he highlighted the origin of this grassroots organization.  “The Blueprint is a grassroots organization, started by Friant users, but it has turned into a grass roots effort and anyone can be involved,” commented Hamilton.  He further highlighted the need for many people to participate and join in the effort and encouraged more water districts to participate.

Hamilton continued to address the challenges facing water delivery and the role the blueprint could provide.  This effort is about developing a plan to address new water delivery.  He acknowledged the expensive water solutions like additional storage may not be affordable.  The Blueprint is a list of ideas that can be utilized to formulate a plan to address water delivery needs.

Currently, much is being studied now: “The relevant number is how much water you need.  That needs to be figured out,” stated Hamilton.  His remarks pointed out that much analysis is taking place now to take as much flood water from the delta.  Once that takes place, then the next steps are to reach out and talk to the districts about how it will work.  He added, “There is a solution, and it is going to take a lot of people to work together.”

Other panelists later in the day also addressed the value of the Blueprint and the inclusiveness of this grassroots movement.  Cannon Michael, with Bowles Farming and a Board member of the Water Education Foundation, commented during a panel on managing endangered species in California: “The polarization of water issues has become unproductive.  If we look at it through the lens of water for Californians, we need to get away from the politicization of the issues.  As Californians, we are going to be charged with finding a patch forward.  It will be a middle of the road solution that needs to be found.”  Cannon added, “The Blueprint effort is needed to address the water needs of the Valley moving forward.  The collaborative efforts like the Blueprint are the pathway forward.”

Hamilton was optimistic in his comments and he highlighted the need for others to help in the process.  He further acknowledged in his conclusion that the road ahead will take many well-informed individuals coming up with ideas and concepts that Valley water users want and will pay for.   “We all need to be part of the Valley solution,” concluded Hamilton.

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