Gov. Jerry Brown came to the Colusa Farm show to sell his plan for $14 billion plan to build a massive tunnels below the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
It wasn't what you would call friendly territory where he addressed a breakfast crowd of about 500. Farmers in the Stockton/Colusa area are not only worried about losing their water but their water rights. His tow tunnel plan threatens both.
The governor acknowledged that many in the region have a different view, saying that he has never won Colusa County in any statewide races. Yet he said that he would protect their water.
In some ways the governor, however is connected to this land. He has an interest in 2,700 acres of ranch land in Colusa County settled by his great-grandfather.
"I said we're going to protect this land, and I promise you today that I'm going to protect the water on that land and the water in this county and everywhere else in this state," he said to a generally warm audience.
"We need a secure, water supply. At the same time, we've got to have protections to protect your rights. So it's very challenging, he says. .
Brown claims the tunnels are needed to ensure that water deliveries continue to Southern California cities and Central Valley farmers. Many Southern California water users and Republican want more water storage in Northern California. Many in Northern California wonder why Southern California doesn't have more water storage facilities.
When asked later what he meant when he said he would protect the water rights of Northern California farmers, Brown replied that he would weigh all the options but did not intend to violate any of the historic water protections farmers have won, dating back to the 1800s.
There are certain water rights that are historic and anything we do with this delta facility has to incorporate those water rights as an iron-clad legal, statutory and maybe even constitutional guarantee to ensure that they gain and not lose," Brown said.
The Governor was warmly received in this Republican country partly because of his close family ties to Colusa - - his grandmother is buried in nearby Williams.