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Farmers, Salmon Both Win

Not only did water get taken from farmers, but rates for the water farmers did get were increased to pay for the restoration.

Oct 12, 2012

We can hardly stand the good news. Farmers, salmon both win? Can it be? Well, we know salmon can win, but can farmers win? According to the article below the San Joaquin River "restoration passed a milestone last week with approval of final environmental documents -- meaning construction projects can begin for salmon-friendly alterations, such as bypasses around dams." Both the state and federal government are broke, so where is the money coming from? It's coming from U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein's H.R. 146, the San Joaquin River Restoration Act, passed in 2009 when Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate and the Presidency.

H.R. 146 took contracted water from farmers to return salmon to the San Joaquin River. Not only did water get taken from farmers, but rates for the water farmers did get were increased to pay for the restoration. When Republicans took control of the House after the 2010 election, Congressman Devin Nunes introduced H.R. 1837, the San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act, meant to repeal H.R. 146. It has been blocked in the Senate and will continue to be blocked unless Republicans take control of both the Senate and House after this coming election.


So, everything pretty much remains in limbo until some things are resolved in the election next month. But, getting back to the article below, farmers remain skeptical about language in the article like "returning water to farmers is considered just as important as salmon, the agreement says."

Why would we be skeptical? This is what we wrote in a previous newsletter about the SJ River Restoration Act:

"The San Joaquin River Restoration agreement was put together by politicians, ag and environmentalists who signed a 'blood oath' to restore the San Joaquin river with Friant Dam water on the promise that we could pump the water back into the system when it got to the Delta and re-use it for ag. Before the 'blood' could dry on the agreement, the environmentalists (Natural Resources Defense Council) were in Ollie Wanger's federal courtroom presenting their 'scientific' evidence that the pumps were killing the Delta Smelt and the pumps should be shut off, making sure ag couldn't retrieve the restoration water. You have to make sure these guys don't have their fingers crossed behind their backs when they sign a 'blood oath' right in front of you."

So, if this pumping plant is ever built we will be the first to cheer. But, we're not holding our breath. It doesn't sound like the writer of the article, Mark Grossi, is holding his breath either when he says "just so you know, this is a project I will watch and write about in the coming years."

 



 

 

Farmers, salmon both win
 
Mark Grossi

There's a non-salmon side of the San Joaquin River restoration, and it appeared again last week. But it didn't get much ink.

Here's what people talk about. The restoration passed a milestone last week with approval of final environmental documents -- meaning construction projects can begin for salmon-friendly alterations, such as bypasses around dams.

But the environmental documents also identify a pumping plant, planned somewhere beyond the confluence of the Merced River.

That plant will be used to send some water to farmers who gave up a little irrigation water for the restoration.

Under a 2006 agreement, the once-dried river has been refilled and reconnected to the Pacific Ocean.

Returning water to farmers is considered just as important as salmon, the agreement says.
So let's talk about it here.

The location of the pumping plant is important. It must be built in a place beyond the Merced River confluence -- the end of the 150 miles of damaged river being restored.

But it also can't be built too close to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, or the water might be caught up in big environmental issues there and perhaps not return to farmers.

The actual site hasn't been determined. The environmental documents just say the plant will be built somewhere between the Merced confluence and the delta.

Just so you know, this is a project I will watch and write about in the coming years.

 


 

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