[env-trinity] SF Chronicle July 2 1009

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Jul 2 10:12:59 PDT 2009

Thousands rally to protest water cuts in Fresno

Tracie Cone, Associated Press Writer

Thursday, July 2, 2009

(07-02) 04:00 PDT Fresno -- Thousands of farmers, farmworkers and their
supporters rallied at City Hall on Wednesday, calling on federal officials
to ease regulations that have cut water supplies to the nation's most
prolific growing region.


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"Water makes the difference between the Garden of Eden and Death Valley,"
said comedian Paul Rodriguez, who acts as a spokesman for the Latino Water
Coalition, a group lobbying for changes in water delivery policy regarding
the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The noon rally was organized by the grower-funded group, which also
organized an April march from Mendota (Fresno County) to the San Luis
Reservoir hoping to draw national attention to the issue.

On Wednesday, nearly 4,000 people carrying professionally printed signs
proclaiming, "No water, no jobs, no hope, no future," marched through
downtown. One man who declined to give us name said his Kettleman City
(Kings County) employer had driven him and other workers there and were
paying them for their time. Another woman said she came with 50 other
employees of a Tulare agriculture contractor for free, to protect their

Speakers stressed the importance of San Joaquin Valley agriculture, which
they said produces more than half of the domestically grown U.S. food

"If you like foreign oil, you'll love foreign food," some signs read.

The rally came on the heels of a visit Sunday by Interior Secretary Ken
Salazar, who assigned his chief deputy to stay in California to work
full-time on solving the delta's many problems.

Growers, with the help of congressional delegates from the region, have
asked officials to ease federal protections for threatened fish that have
drastically reduced supplies pumped into the state's vast canal system.
Federal agencies have ordered reduced pumping in the delta when the delta
smelt are spawning in the area, leaving nearly empty the San Luis Reservoir
that stores water for farmers and Southern California municipal users.

Farmers on the west side of Fresno County, the top-producing agriculture
county in the U.S., will receive 10 percent of their federal water
allocation this year as a result of cutbacks and drought that has led to
idled land and layoffs.

Environmental activists and fishing groups say that without protections for
the delta, the fishing industry will continue to suffer, as will the ocean
species that depend on those fish for survival.

A.G. Kawamura, the director of the California Department of Food and
Agriculture, said he came to march because "without a water system that has
predictability," the state's agriculture infrastructure will collapse.

Farmer Joe Del Bosque, who owns 2,500 acres in western Madera County, said
he had planted only half of his land this year because he doesn't have a
well to supplement this year's water allocation.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," he said. "I'm completely dependent on
surface water."



Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org

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