Live coverage replay: Obama comes to Fresno to discuss drought crisis

The Fresno BeeFebruary 14, 2014 

Air Force One lifted off Friday evening from Fresno Yosemite International Airport, bringing a close to President Barack Obama's whirlwind tour of the drought-damaged central San Joaquin Valley.

The president toured a field on Fresno County's west side that farmer Joe Del Bosque of Empresas Del Bosque, Inc. plans to leave fallow because he lacks enough water to plant a crop.

The president also held a closed-door roundtable with a variety of farmers, water officials, politicians and others to talk about the drought and what the federal government is doing to try to help.

MAIN STORY: Obama vows to give attention to drought in Valley visit

Taking a seat at a horseshoe table inside a cavernous metal San Luis Water District maintenance building on Fresno County's west side, Obama tried to assure roundtable participants that California's importance as a farm producer makes the state's water problems a national concern.

"I wanted to come here to listen," the president said during brief opening remarks before the roundtable was closed to reporters. "This is going to be a very challenging situation for some time to come."

RELATED STORY: Problems in Valley extend beyond drought, some would tell Obama

The president said he's been well-warned of the history of water politics in California: "I'm not going to wade into this because I want to get out alive on Valentine's day."

Turning serious, the president added that long-term solutions to water would be required.

"Water has been seen as a zero sum game: agriculture against urban, north against south," Obama said. "We're going to have to figure out how to play a different game. We can't afford years of litigation and no real action."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6320, jellis@fresnobee.com or @johnellis24 on Twitter.

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