Buddy Mendes had himself a viral moment on Thursday.
The Riverdale native, Fresno County Supervisor and farmer delivered a verbal smackdown from the dais during this week’s Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting.
The recipient of his verbal onslaught: a community organizer representing residents of El Porvenir – a community near Cantua Creek on the westside of Fresno County.
Call it Mendes’ Sam Kinison Back to School moment (language NSFW).
His tone was sharp, and perhaps for good reason. Our seemingly never-ending drought has propagated very effective misinformation about the Valley’s ag economy.
Remember how many gallons it takes to grow a single almond? Exactly.
Buddy was animated, forceful – and more importantly – right.
Say what you will about his tone, but the message couldn’t be clearer: residents of El Porvenir are as much a victim of Federal water mismanagement, if not more, than neighboring westside farmers.
Sure you can blame the drought. But in a year with solid rainfall and a pathetic 5% water allocation for Central Valley Project contractors on the westside from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, something’s gotta give.
And while the County laid the groundwork to end some of El Porvenir and Cantua Creek’s water woes, they can’t magically manufacture more water.
Those decisions are unfortunately in the ballpark of the Feds, who have placed the westside in regulatory hell since the Natural Resources Defense Council scored a major legal victory in forcing a new biological opinion on delta smelt in 2007, effectively shutting off the Delta pumps.
Lost in the heated kerfuffle at Fresno County’s Hall of Records is an important note: the County did take action that El Porvenir residents wanted: have Mendes send a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation seeking a price break for Westlands Water District’s poorer customers – specifically El Porvenir.
Since the County can’t directly give El Porvenir a price break – as it must treat all service areas equally – this is the best alternative to avoiding a price increase or water being shut off.
These solutions, though are patchwork. Never before has the proverb “a rising tide lifts all boats” been more applicable. Ending the true El Porvenir killer – water scarcity – is the only real solution for westside communities staring down incredible rate increases.
And at the top of his lungs, that’s Buddy’s rallying cry.