Aug. 12, 2018 – As if water and wildfire policies in the West weren’t contentious enough, President Trump decided to toss confused and ill-conceived tweets into the mix over the past few days, reigniting fights over water and land use in California.
“California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized,” Trump said in a tweet Sunday. He was back at it again Monday morning, decrying water that is “foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean.”
This is unmitigated nonsense and dangerous thinking, especially at a time when severe wildfires are sweeping over the state, more than 1,000 homes have been destroyed, the death toll is rising and more than 10,000 firefighters are risking their lives battling the flames.
There’s no shortage of water to fight these fires. Indeed, water is one of the least useful tools for containing them. Firefighters build fire breaks, use chemical fire retardant to try to limit the spread and mostly work to protect infrastructure and lives by containing the extent of the fires. As Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director of California’s fire agency, noted: “We have plenty of water to fight these wildfires.”