By Sara Jerome,
Donald Trump is vowing to bring California new solutions to its protracted water crisis.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee told voters during a campaign stop in Fresno: “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 he met with farmers during his visit, according to the Associated Press. “They don’t understand — nobody understands it,” he said. “There is no drought.”
The U.S. Drought Monitor says 55 percent of California still has some level of drought conditions.
Trump also waded into a key water debate in California over environmental laws protecting fish. Such protections are often criticized by rural water districts and farmers. Trump sided with farmers, saying California is denying water to agriculture “to protect a certain kind of three-inch fish.”
“If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive, so that your job market will get better,” Trump said, per The Los Angeles Times.
Trump’s remarks drew immediate criticism. Astronomer Phil Plait sounded off in an editorial on Slate.
“Where to even start with something so bizarrely nonsensical? To believe there’s plenty of water in California you’d either have to be a cactus or completely, utterly oblivious to reality. Because that’s grossly wrong. Grotesquely wrong,” Plait wrote.
At his Fresno rally, however, Trump had plenty of support. Many attendees were holding “farmers for Trump” signs, according to BuzzFeed.
And Tim Worstall, an op-ed contributor for Forbes, came to Trump’s defense, arguing that the the candidate “is actually correct here.”
“There is no existential shortage of water in the state, not at all. What there is is misallocation of water and that misallocation is because water is incorrectly priced there. The solution therefore is to get the pricing right: then the allocation will be. We also know something more about this: it doesn’t matter what the current or original allocations are. Getting the price right will solve the problem. So, he’s not being quite as stupid as some people think he is,” Worstall wrote.