[env-trinity] Westlands Water District Grabs More Water in the Middle of a Drought—Sweetheart Government Contract

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Fri Feb 19 12:05:33 PST 2010





 Westlands Water District Grabs More Water in the Middle of a Drought—

Sweetheart Government Contract


February 19, 2010

For Immediate Release:



Contact:  Bill Jennings [209] 464 5067

       Steve Evans [916] 442-3155

       Jonas Minton [916] 313-4518

      Tom Stokely [530]524-0315



The U.S. government appears poised to give billions of gallons of water to a politically connected group of farmers in California, where most people are being asked to conserve.


Three hundred and fifty farming operations in Westlands Waters District are asking the federal government to roll over their water contracts, helping them to get a lock on enough water supplies to serve the equivalent of 18 million people in Southern California.  


The public has until 5:00 Friday February 19, 2010, to protest these contract renewals.


“The law and common sense are being discarded in a Mad Hatter’s rush to give away vast quantities of taxpayer subsidized water to special interests that will hasten the environmental collapse of one of the great estuaries of the world” said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance


 “These 350 corporate irrigators are ready to take big drink while cities, salmon and farmers in the rest of the state are being asked to conserve, said Steve Evans, Conservation Director for Friends of the River.


“Based on an outdated and exaggerated Water Needs Analysis by the Bureau of Reclamation, Westlands is trying to lock up an amount of water that far exceeds recent  water deliveries“, stated Carolee Krieger with the California Water Impact Network.


Citing changes on the ground, in law and a failure to adequately address long term toxins coming from these fields along with the failure of the Bureau of Reclamation to reckon with the reality of scarce water supplies, the groups filed comments today asking the contracts be tossed out and the process started over.  


“These contracts are suppose to take a back seat to the needs of Native American Tribes, the salmon fishery, our natural ecological health, and people,” declared Mark Franco, Headman Winnemem Tribe.  “But instead these 350 operations are locking up more than their fair share and we pay for it.”


“Public trust assets have been trashed, salmon have been lost, fishermen are out of work and the taxpayers are paying for the water delivered to these land barons whose irrigation is sending toxic selenium into our rivers and streams,” explained Felix Smith, Save the American Rivers Association.


Many of the groups signing this letter have already filed a lawsuit against Westlands in Fresno County Superior Court.  They are challenging the Westlands’ contention that the contracts are exempt from review under the California Environmental Quality Act.


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