New Federal Drought Action Team to help California

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON — Water is the life’s blood for any packing or processing plant. So when any area suffers a severe drought, the result could be catastrophic. In order to help drought-stricken communities, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Feb. 26 a Federal Drought Action Team has been created to with communities facing significant drought.

California, already facing a number of economic woes, is currently facing one of its worst droughts in decades so the new Drought Action Team will work with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's state drought response team to minimize the social, economic, and environmental impacts this situation.

Based on water forecasts, initial Water Year 2009 allocations for the Federal Central Valley Project will be significantly limited for agricultural and other uses, the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation stated last week.

The Federal Drought Action Team will include representatives appointed by Mr. Salazar and Mr. Vilsack, along with representatives from other federal agencies.

Mr. Salazar is also directing the Bureau of Reclamation to work closely with state authorities to facilitate water transfers for the Drought Water Bank that is operated by the state. He also is directing Reclamation to provide operational flexibility to convey and store water to facilitate additional transfers and exchanges that can move water to critical-need areas, and to expedite any related environmental review and compliance actions.

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