[env-trinity] Federal Funds to Western San Joaquin

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Fri Jul 2 19:56:35 PDT 2010


Fed grant funds to ease Valley water shortages


Written by Garance Burke, AP Writer  

 
(AP) - Federal agencies pledged Thursday to send nearly $60 million in
grants to help California communities, farms and dairies suffering from
ongoing water shortages.

The money includes $40 million from President Obama's stimulus package aimed
at drought-relief projects, the bulk of which will go to the San Joaquin
Valley, where three years of dry weather and irrigation cutbacks have
crippled production and caused severe unemployment.

Most of the Department of Interior's stimulus funds are intended to help
growers dig new wells and install temporary pipelines and pumps to move
water to farms that need it most, Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes
said.

"The farming communities in the San Joaquin are central to our bread basket,
to our prosperity and to our agricultural strength as a nation," he said.

The announcement was welcome news for farmers on the west side of Fresno
County, the most productive agricultural county in the nation.

Farms in the area are receiving only 10 percent of their federal water
allocation this year.

The grants, plus other federal funding announced earlier this year, should
help put rural communities back to work by freeing up water supplies to keep
crops and fruit trees growing, Hayes said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also announced Thursday it would direct
an additional $18 million in grants to help California farmers, dairy
operators and resource conservation districts use water more efficiently and
tackle environmental problems.

"Regulations for air quality and water quality keep getting tougher, so this
will be a huge help," said Michael Marsh, CEO of Western United Dairymen.

The biggest winner was the sprawling Westlands Water District, which
received a total of $9.5 million in grants from both agencies.

The district, which produces about $1 billion in crops annually and is one
of Fresno County's biggest employers, says the water shortages have meant
that hundreds of thousands of acres used to grow lettuce, tomatoes and other
crops have been fallowed this year.

The grants from USDA will help Westlands farmers save enough water to
irrigate 1,000 more acres and put about 800 people to work, said Tom
Birmingham, the district's general manager.

More than $2.2 million will be spent so U.S. Geological Survey scientists
can monitor how increased pumping affects California's central aquifer,
which some state scientists fear could sink enough to slow delivery of water
to Southern California.

The California Aqueduct, a major canal that delivers drinking water to more
than 20 million people, is among many structures threatened by the sinking.

A study released by the USGS earlier this month revealed that groundwater
pumping is causing the valley floor to sink.

 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land/fax

415 519 4810 mobile

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

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
(secondary)

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