Trump Reiterates Falsehood About California Water Diversions

California officials not sure what to make of presidential claims

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump walk across the South Lawn to Marine One on their way to Joint Base Andrews on July 27. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Monday again falsely stated that the California government is diverting river water into the Pacific Ocean that could be used to fight forest fires, but he also signaled he will fast-track federal help.

For the second consecutive day, the president took to Twitter to contend Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is sending water from “the North” into the Pacific Ocean. Trump contended Monday that water could be used for “fires, farming and everything else.”

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has been puzzled by the claims from the president, according to Fox News. But that has not stopped Trump from calling out Brown by name. 

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“Governor Jerry Brown must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean,” Trump tweeted.

“I’m not sure what he was recommending,” University of California, Merced professor LeRoy Westerling told the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday. “Even if we eliminated all habitat for riparian species and fish, and allowed saltwater intrusion into the delta and set up a sprinkler system over the state, that wouldn’t compensate for greater moisture loss from climate change.”

The governor has stated previously that climate change is worsening conditions that lead to wildfires, such as increased droughts. 

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The Washington Post’s fact-checking team recently concluded that Trump had made 4,229 false statements as of Aug. 1, including an increased pace over the last two months. In June and July, the president uttered 978 inaccuracies, according to the Post.

For his part, Trump in recent years has called climate change a “con job” and a “myth.”

The disaster declaration that Trump approved for California on Sunday makes available federal funding to state, local and tribal governments “on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the wildfires and high winds in Shasta County.”

A day later, the president used the same tweet with the false water claim to promise "Fast Federal govt. approvals.” That likely references either future federal funding assistance or his approval to move water stored in federal facilities to help fight the California fires.

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