Author: Joshua Thompson
PLF attorney Harold Johnson had an op-ed published yesterday by the Orange County Register on the Delta Smelt. Here's a snippet:
By far the heaviest price for the feds' fish-before-people policy is paid in the San Joaquin Valley. As vast quantities of water are withheld from irrigation and allowed to flow directly to the ocean, hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland have been fallowed in one of America's agricultural heartlands.
Stanislaus County almond farmer Jim Jasper has seen his water allocation drop 90 percent. "If this continues, it's very likely that our 60-year-old family farming business will have to shut down," he said. Nearly 150 employees would be jobless.
Already, unemployment in some San Joaquin Valley rural communities is north of 30 percent. A UC Davis study estimated this year's job losses from water cutbacks at 30,000.
The environment is paying a price, as Fresno-based federal Judge Oliver Wanger said last month while presiding at a hearing on lawsuits against the pumping restrictions. Staunching the flow of water has caused dust to rise from dry fields, possibly dirtying the air, he said, and land has sunk because more water must be drawn from below ground. "How could this not affect the human environment?" Wanger asked. "It has had catastrophic effects."
Read more here.