California is in the midst of a severe, prolonged drought. It started in late 2011, and has progressed to the point where a large portion of the south and central parts of the state are in what the U.S. Drought Monitor classifies as “exceptional drought.” Things have improved slightly in recent weeks, but the fact remains that California is very dry, and the reason is simply a lack of rainfall. But Donald Trump has other ideas about it.
The central California city of Fresno, itself in an area hard hit by the drought, was the scene of a Trump rally on Friday night. During that gathering Trump told the crowd that the problem wasn’t a drought. No, he said, it’s because the government, and the environmentalists, are “pushing the water out to sea.”
Here is exactly what the real estate mogul said to the crowd:
We’re going to solve your water problem. You have a water problem that is so insane. It is so ridiculous where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea.
Trump said that the reason that was being done was to protect “a certain kind of three-inch fish.” But fish live in water, so don’t they already have plenty? It was a very bizarre moment.
Nobody seems to be 100 percent sure, but according to USA Today, the presumptive GOP nominee was possibly referring to the Delta smelt, a fish that is nearing extinction. His notion is that the government is blocking water to farmers in California’s Central Valley to protect that fish.
But never fear! Trump has the problem solved (of course!). His solution? “I’m going to open up the water.”
That Moses-like pronouncement sounds pretty strange until you dig into it a little bit. ABC News speculates that Trump was actually referring to ongoing disputes over water that runs from the Sacramento River into the San Francisco Bay and out into the ocean. Some farmers want that water diverted for their use.
As the map below shows, over the past 36 months most of the state has suffered from a severe lack of precipitation. But The Donald seems to think that if there is water flowing in a river bed, there’s no problem. He must have missed the story from last year about the Guadalupe River, which flows through San Jose. Eight miles out of the 14 mile length of that river dried up, due to the drought that Trump believes isn’t the reason that California has no water.
Yes Donald, there is a drought. And if anything is “pushing water out to sea” it’s nature. Rivers flow to the sea. It’s what they do. What you do is spout nonsense that your supporters accept as fact.
Here are Trump’s comments, via YouTube: