California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has demanded that President Barack Obama’s cabinet rethink federal policy that would divert water from parched farms and cities to threatened fish, his administration said.
California’s rivers used to brim with salmon and sturgeon, but a massive system of canals diverted water that fed farms and cities, now suffering through a third year of drought.
Schwarzenegger has gained credibility as an environmentalist for his push to curb greenhouse gases but he argued that federal plans to save fish will worsen a water crisis that has cost farmers more than $700 million and caused mandatory rationing in cities of the most populous state.
“I am concerned that the catastrophic impacts of the current crisis on our economy and environment could take decades to reverse and significantly hamper any long-term solutions,” Schwarzenegger wrote in a Sept. 1 letter to U. S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.
He demanded the two intervene in a battle over water from the state’s top source, the marshy river-fed Delta that eventually empties into San Francisco Bay and which supplies water to farmers and the city of Los Angeles as well as northern California.
Federal agencies responding to court orders have proposed leaving more water in rivers to protect the fish, and the governor said there is not enough left for the 38 million Californians.