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What About the Next 20 Years?

Are we just going to sit around with 20% water allocations for 20 years until these tunnels get built? If they ever get built?

Apr 02, 2013

We're glad to see Congressmen and other elected officials held a news conference focusing on the Valley's worsening water situation. We think every single Valley elected official should come together in a bi-partisan coalition demanding from the rest of the state that our water situation be solved immediately. There can be no doubt that the old ways of doing business simply aren't working any longer. We aren't going to bad-mouth any elected official who stands up for our water, but there is a problem with this particular news conference. The people involved are taking a stance in support of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) which includes the idea of twin tunnels that will deliver water underneath the Delta to avoid harming the Delta Smelt and give us a more reliable water supply. IN 20 YEARS! Great. What about the 20 years between now and then. We will all dry up and blow away by then. Are we just going to sit around with 20% water allocations for 20 years until these tunnels get built? If they ever get built?

So, now that we've had the news conference to support the solution of the future, maybe the politicians can re-group and think about what we're going to do right now. Here's a starting point: how about a moratorium on the Delta Smelt situation until the tunnels are built? How about we pump water with out perfectly good pumps and canals and reservoirs so that we can have the water we need until the politicians can build the alternate system?

The tunnels are no solution for tomorrow or the next day or next year or the year after that. It is a vision that will not water our crops until 2033. It might be a good vision for 2033, but we need real water right now.

Valley farm water cutbacks: Small cities see food lines again

By Mark Grossi - The Fresno Bee

With severe irrigation water cutbacks this year, food lines again will form with unemployed workers and their families on the San Joaquin Valley's west side, local leaders said Monday.

Two congressmen and farmworkers joined them in a downtown Fresno news conference to tell the public that the cutbacks will cost thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in the California economy.

The news conference was arranged by the Latino Water Coalition, a group formed in 2007 to advocate for water improvements in California. Coalition members attended from the cities of San Joaquin, Mendota, Parlier, Orange Cove, Huron and Fowler.

They were reacting to the announcement last month of a 20% allotment of federal irrigation water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The projection was 5% lower than the disappointing 25% announced in February.

"The 5% reduction was a shocker," said Mayor Robert Silva of Mendota, which had food lines in 2009 during a drought. "Do we want more welfare, more food stamps, more unemployment? No. We want the 5% back, plus 10% more."

Mendota had 41% unemployment at one point in 2009, which was part of a multiple-year drought. In a big swath of the country's most productive farmland, some people couldn't stock their own kitchens with food.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the water cutback this year is tied to the dry season. The snowpack is about half its average size. But federal leaders also say less water is available because Endangered Species Act protections for delta smelt forced water pumping reductions.

The reductions resulted in the loss of more than 800,000 acre-feet of water, which leaves the massive San Luis Reservoir in Merced County far below full.

The smelt is only part of a much bigger problem that includes the need to protect chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead and green sturgeon.

The delta has been in decline for years. Scientists have blamed invasive species, drought, pollution, discharges of treated waste water and water pumping.

For seven years, the state has been working on a fix as part of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. This year, leaders are releasing a $23 billion proposal to restore endangered fish and improve reliability of diverting fresh water for farms and cities.

The proposed fix includes construction of twin tunnels to take some fresh water for cities and farms before the water enters the sensitive delta. Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, on Monday supported the tunnels -- which also are supported by many city water districts, Valley farm water leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown.

Costa said he believes the delta is being managed with flawed science right now. "We must break this cycle of water insecurity," he said.

Costa, Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, and others at the news conference Monday said the delta fix is years down the line, but the Valley needs help right now.

Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle agreed. He said he has been in office five years, and this is the second water crisis he has seen.


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