SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday that a Republican effort in Congress to address California's unprecedented drought is an "unwelcome and divisive intrusion" in the state's efforts to address the crisis by pitting water users against one another.
Brown, a Democrat, sent a letter Monday to the leadership of the House Committee on Natural Resources and California's entire congressional delegation asking them to oppose HR3964, which is scheduled to be taken up this week.
The legislation, which is sponsored by California's Republican congressional delegation, would allow farmers to increase pumping from the Delta and create a House-Senate committee to tackle water problems.
"It would override state laws and protections, and mandate that certain water interests come out ahead of others," Brown wrote in his letter. "It falsely suggests the promise of water relief when that is simply not possible given the scarcity of water supplies."
California officials announced last week they will not send any water from the state's vast reservoir system to local agencies this spring, the first time that has happened in the 54-year history of the State Water Project.
State Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said there is not enough water in the system to meet the needs of farmers, cities and the conservation efforts that are intended to save dwindling populations of salmon and other fish throughout Northern California.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, the House majority leader, said the Brown administration's decision puts unsustainable pressure on already-dangerously low reservoirs and groundwater reserves.
He urged the governor to relax state environmental regulations, such as those that protect fish, to allow more water to flow to the parched Central Valley.
Brown said the federal legislation would interfere with the state's efforts and would "re-open old water wounds."
The prospects for any water bill that passes the Republican-controlled House are uncertain because Democrats control the Senate and because both of California's senators are Democrats.