SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - President Trump's tweets about the wildfires raging around California are prompting reaction from experts who are disputing his claims that the state is diverting water that could be used to fight the fires, into the ocean.
On Sunday the president tweeted on the topic saying, "California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren't allowing a massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire from spreading!"
California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire from spreading!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2018
He later added in a second tweet, "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. Can be used for fires, farming and everything else. Think of California with plenty of Water - Nice! Fast Federal govt. approvals."
But from the fires' front lines crews say there is no shortage of water.
Environmental experts say the real water controversy is about something else entirely.
"We have plenty of water in California to fight fires. There's no doubt about that," said Eugene Cordero a climate science professor at San Jose State University. "The question is what happens to the water that comes down from the Sierras and that's something we've been fighting about and arguing about for many decades," Cordero added.
He also said, right now in California some water goes to residents, some to farmers, and some to protecting the environment and fish like the Delta smelt.
"So because of its endangered species status, requires this certain amount of water from the Sierras to be diverted to the Delta," said Cordero. "In the Central Valley some of the farmers think that that water will be better used for agriculture and thus the tension between these two groups: environmental groups and the farmers."
Republicans have recently focused on the issue.
Still Cordero thinks the president's tweets ignore another contentious topic: the impact of climate change on wildfires.
"We're seeing higher temperatures. We're seeing longer seasons of very dry conditions. We're seeing more erratic changes in how we get rainfall," Cordero said.
He said these are the issues that require both attention and action.
"Advocating for solutions that Washington and California can work on together, I think will ultimately help us," Cordero said.