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Vice President Kamala Harris Warns Of Looming 'Wars Fought Over Water'

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- For the first time since her election, Vice President Kamala Harris was in her hometown of Oakland Monday, returning to the Bay Area to promote the Biden administration's American Jobs Plan and the need to rebuild the country's water delivery infrastructure.

Air Force Two arrived at Oakland International Airport from Los Angeles just before 10 a.m. She was greeted at the airport by Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Senator Alex Padilla -- who filled the Senate seat Harris vacated with her election -- and Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Her motorcade went straight to a water treatment plant in Oakland where Harris joined Governor Gavin Newsom for a walking tour of the East Bay Municipal Utility District's Upper San Leandro treatment plant.

She discussed how the new American Jobs Plan would provide an investment of more than $111 billion in the country's water infrastructure to ensure it's safe and equitable.

"For years there were wars fought over oil; in a short time there will be wars fought over water," Vice President Harris said. "We must address inequities in access to clean water, at local state federal levels. Understanding opportunities to build back up infrastructure around water."

Her words were addressing a major concern in a region that finds itself in the grips of another severe drought. Emerging from its typical rainy season, San Francisco and Oakland have been received less than half its normal precipitation.

Newsom echoed her concerns.

"Drought is by no means just an issue for California," he said "This is profoundly significant for this country and this infrastructure effort is, forgive me I know we're prone to hyperbole, but it's a game changer."

Vice President Harris moved on to a listening session hosted at the Red Door, a catering company that prepares made from fresh, local ingredients, for various types of events.

The listening session will focus on the role of community development financial institutions or CDFIs and the importance of providing capital to small businesses in underserved communities. The Red Door received both financial and technical support from two Bay Area CDFIs: Accion Opportunity Fund and ICA.

After making history as the first African American and female Vice President, Kamala Harris is settling into her role. And as she's finding out the number two job in the country doesn't always pull the plum assignments.

"It's not always glamour. There are a lot of crummy duties that come along with that position sometimes. Somebody's gotta go take care of certain constituencies. And somebody's gotta be on the road a lot, and sometimes that falls to the number two," said Donna Crane, an adjunct professor of political science at San Jose State.

However, Harris has been given a high-profile assignment by her boss. The President has tasked her with solving the immigration issue at the southern border. Crane told KPIX that's with good reason.

"Most of the tasks like that, just because of their very nature, they come with risks. They come with downsides. But if it weren't hard, if Biden were assigning her small tasks, nominal tasks, we would all be saying that it was disrespectful and not incorporative of her talents," said Crane.

Harris headed back to Los Angeles Monday afternoon to spend the night there.

Andria Borba contributed to this story.

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