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The rules are designed to direct more water from rivers in northern California to agricultural interests in the state’s Central Valley.
In a speech, Trump described seeing large swathes of dry land surrounding small green patches during a previous visit to the region.
“I said, ‘Boy that’s a beautiful area, but why is everything else barren?’ And it’s because of water, you send millions and millions of gallons out,” he said. “And we have now given full permission that you don’t do that anymore.”
Conservation groups have criticized the administration’s new water rules, saying that both drinking water and species that live in the waterways will be put at risk.
Trump referenced 2018 state laws that set efficiency standards for utilities to reach, aiming to reduce the average water use to 50 gallons per person per day. He described them as “rations.”
“Fifty gallons sounds OK, people tell me it’s like nothing,” Trump said. “By the time you’re done with your showers and your hands and your dishes and everything, 50 gallons is very, very little. Can you imagine a state being rationed when you have millions and millions of gallons being poured out into the Pacific?”