From News Line, a daily compilation of farm water news distributed to CFWC members and others upon request. To receive News Line, click here. 

Land retirement solves selenium problem

Coalition response…No drainage water from the nearly 100,000 acres of the Grassland Drainage Area south of Los Banos ever flowed to the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge. The author fails to provide this important fact as she attempts to connect the land, that will send drainage water to the proposed treatment plant, with Kesterson from the 1980s.

A cooperative effort by farmers, local water districts, environmental organizations, and State and federal agencies has resulted in reduced flows of selenium and other minerals into the San Joaquin River. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency labeled the project a “success story.” Read the EPA report at

The water treatment plant is yet another phase in the overall effort to maintain the viability of the farm acreage. Each year the harvest value from this land totals more than $400 million. Hundreds of individuals are employed year-round and thousands more are added during harvest season. An additional $250 million in economic activity is generated by farming operations that supports local communities.

Taking even more land out of production as suggested by the author would be devastating. A recent look ( at water lost to 25 million Californians and 3 million acres of farmland reveals that 260,000 acres account for 12,386 farm jobs and could annually produce $873 million in crops. That translates to a $2.2 billion impact to the State’s economy.

Removing land from production could result in less locally-grown fruits and vegetables in our grocery stores and a greater reliance on imported food. Is this what people really want?

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