“There is no water shortage,” Rogers said when addressing attendees of the National Association of Counties (NACo) this week. “There is a shortage of water storage, and certainly a shortage of common sense water policy.
Rogers represents Madera County on NACo’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs steering committee. Rogers’ district is mainly agricultural land he has promised farmers he would continue the battle with Washington for Temperance Flat dam.
“As I speak, California is losing millions of gallons of water every second,” he said. “Through thirty years of flood releases alone, we have lost enough water down the San Joaquin River to stretch from sea to shining sea, coast to coast, one-hundred-fifty feet wide and three-hundred feet tall. That’s a lot of water, folks.”
He added that this cannot continue to happen in the “greatest agriculturally productive region in the world.”
Madera County is the fastest growing agricultural economy in the U.S., he said, adding that he is optimistic that the new administration in Washington will reexamine water policy and bring about reforms that will benefit Madera County.
Water released into the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam has been an attempt to restore salmon runs in the river. So far, all attempts have failed and millions of gallons of water have been lost.
People are more important than fish,” Rogers said, a phrase he coined more than two decades ago when, as Mayor of Chowchilla, he fought the Clinton Administration’s attempt to remove Friant Dam.
During the five-year drought, water deliveries to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley were drastically reduced or cut off completely, leading to overdraft of the groundwater aquifers and subsidence through pumping. Wells throughout the Valley have gone dry. Yet water continued to flow through the river and into the ocean.
To help replenish the aquifers, Rogers wants to build thousands of recharge basins interconnected to water delivery systems. This will bypass some of the inaction by the governor and state leaders.
As one of its founders, Supervisor Rogers also sits as a director on The San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, an organization that advocates for the building of Temperance Flat Dam.