President Donald Trump on Feb. 19 signed a memorandum to develop and deliver more water supplies in the Central Valley and Southern California.
Speaking to local farmers and supporters in Bakersfield, the president called the states previous water policy a “disgrace.”
“After decades of failure and delays in ensuring critical water access for the people of this state, we are determined to finally get your problem solved. As a candidate for president, I promised to help the water crisis crippling our farmers due the chronic mismanagement and misguided policies,” Trump added.
The Trump administration, Republican lawmakers, and farm and water agencies say the changes will allow for more flexibility in water deliveries.
According to PBS, Californias heavily engineered water system is made up of giant state and federal water projects stretching hundreds of miles of pipes, canals, pumps, and dams, which carry runoff from rain and Sierra Nevada snowmelt from north to south.
Trump has long criticized the environmental rules governing the flow of water in California, which are meant to ensure that enough water stayed in rivers and the San Francisco Bay to sustain more than a dozen endangered fish and other native species.
Supporters, mainly made up of farming groups and Central Valley politicians have hailed Trumps proposal as a breakthrough that would provide much-needed water to Californias agricultural industry. The plan could also boost water deliveries to Southern California urban areas.
However, critics, including environmental groups and fishing groups say the changes could push winter-run salmon and other endangered species to the brink of extinction and could potentially spur lawsuits.