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

Powerful water district backs tunnel plan

Coalition response…Another way of looking at this issue would be that farmers are battling to regain the water supply that they lost when it was reallocated for environmental purposes. Public water agencies and the farmers they serve are seeking reliability in water deliveries that have been plunged into chaos. Government regulations are to blame for taking water away from one of the most productive food-growing regions in the country. Despite misrepresentations that a small number of large agribusinesses benefit from this water supply, most of the operations are actually smaller, multi-generational family farms that have worked the land in some cases for more than 100 years. Provide a reliable water supply to these farmers and consumers will not be faced with grocery shelves filled with products from overseas sources.

Critics who think farmland in the San Joaquin Valley should be abandoned refuse to acknowledge that the valley includes some of the most productive farmland on earth. Food grown in this area can be found in markets around the corner and around the world. Exports mean good paying jobs for California’s workforce.

Westlands Water District does not stand alone in seeing the water it delivers to farmers be cut back by as much as 90 percent in recent years. An additional 28 public water agencies that receive water from the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) have also experienced these same cutbacks.

Contrary to Kate Poole’s comment about Westlands being “behind in paying back the cost of existing irrigation facilities,” water agencies that receive CVP supplies are doing the best they can under current circumstances to repay the construction, operation and maintenance costs of the system. These water suppliers pay according to how much water they receive as stipulated in their contracts. If Poole and others want the districts to be paying more, then they should support restoring water deliveries so water users have a means to repay their commitments.

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