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Calif. Republicans Hope Trump Brings More Dam Construction To The State

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

John Robertson, Rachel, and Reinette Senum had hoped to hear from Republican lawmakers directly during a Mountain Counties Water Resources Association event. MCWRA notified non-members this week that members would be given priority for tickets.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Even though California Republicans are on the wrong end of a super majority in the State Legislature, they hope a Trump presidency will help them achieve some of their goals when it comes to water storage.

State and Congressional Republicans say now is the time to build dams. That was the message half a dozen lawmakers delivered today in Auburn to a group of water agency, irrigation district, and utility district managers.
State Senator Ted Gaines was one of a half-dozen Republicans who spoke. He says the combination of Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican President intent on building things, and a Republican-controlled Congress makes him optimistic projects like the Sites Reservoir north of Sacramento could become a reality.
"There is hope for America. We have a great opportunity that we should not squander," says Gaines.
Congressman Tom McClintock went so far as to back up President Trump's claim during the election that there was no drought, even though the state was in the middle of five years of below-average rainfall, water restrictions, and subsidence of land in the central valley.
"The President was absolutely right. There's no absence of water in the big picture. The problem is it's unevenly distributed," says McClintock.
Gaines and McClintock were joined by Senators Tom Berryhill and Jim Nielsen, as well as Assembly Member Kevin Kiley and Congressman Doug LaMalfa.
The Mountain Counties Water Resources Association hosted the lawmakers.
About 300 people from several different organizations were outside the event. Many held signs that had an environmental theme. Some supported Environmental Protection Agency rules. Others opposed new dam construction or called for repairs to existing dams.
The water resources association had sold tickets to some members of the community who were not in favor of more dams. But, this week, the  tickets were revoked and the money was refunded.
John Kingsbury is Executive Director of the association. He says the group’s meetings with Republican lawmakers had not drawn much attention when the President was a Democrat. He says he revoked tickets to give them to members of the association.
“In the past, we have opened up to the public. We’ve never had any interest. Obviously, there was enough interest that it concerned me because I didn’t have room for my members,” says Kingsbury.
Reinette Senum is a Nevada City Councilwoman. Her ticket was one of those that was revoked.
“We have some of the largest watershed organizations in the country,” she says. “So, we're very familiar with water and the importance of it. We also have the threat of the Centennial Dam proposal on the Bear River. So I came here specifically to listen for my constituents because this is about the Trump agenda --the view from the top. So, what is that view and what does that look like in the way of water?"
Mountain Counties says it plans to hold an event with water agency managers, lawmakers and people who support alternatives to dams in the near future.

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