Tuesday, April 08, 2008


California Delta water crisis can be solved by exporting less water to southern California

(updated 16june2008)

Stop the irrigation of selenium-poisoned farmland in the western San Joaquin valley.

Much of the water exported south from the California Delta is used for irrigation of the toxic soils of the western San Joaquin valley. Current policies are destroying the California Delta and driving the salmon and other fishes towards extinction. It would be foolish to continue sending too much water south just to perpetuate the highly polluting agriculture of the western San Joaquin valley. It would be even more foolish to let our Governor waste California taxpayer money to build dams and canals in northern California just to send even more water to these toxic pollution farms in the western San Joaquin valley. Once we cut off the taxpayer-subsidized water supply to these pollution farms, then the current water delivery infrastructure will easily be able to deliver all of the water that is needed by all other users in southern California.

Oppose the San Luis Drainage Resolution Act.

The proposed San Luis Drainage Resolution Act would give a perpetual water contract to the western San Joaquin valley farmers whose toxic wastes caused the environmental disaster at Kesterson Reservoir in 1987.

"Bill Jennings, chairman of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and Carolee Krieger, President of the California Water Impact Network, on Friday sent a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein blasting the Proposed San Luis Drainage Resolution Act and Settlement Process. .... the solution to the drainage problem of lands on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley is 'massive land retirement in the Western San Joaquin Valley." (Conservation Groups Oppose San Luis Drainage Resolution Act - Indybay 05april2008)

Selenium-poisoned lands in the western San Joaquin valley should no longer be irrigated.

"Retirement of Westlands Water District's deadly selenium laden lands should be required, withdrawing their continued so-called “rights” to Trinity River water. ... This heavily federal taxpayer subsidized irrigated land has wreaked havoc on the environment." (Trinity Division History - Friends of Trinity River)

California Water Impact Network urges government to "reallocate contaminated irrigation water from 379,000 acres of drainage impaired lands in the San Joaquin Valley to salmon fishery and river restoration projects throughout California’s Central Valley. Retiring these lands could free up at least 600,000 acre-feet of water for restoration projects throughout the Central Valley and Trinity River." (Stop Westlands Irrigation, Reallocate Water to Restore Rivers, California Delta & Fisheries - C-WIN 19may2008.)

It is not just conservation groups who oppose continued irrigation of the selenium-poisoned lands of the western San Joaquin valley.

"Land retirement in Westlands allows the state and federal governments, water users and environmentalists to enter a new era of enlightened water policy and regional problem solving." (Why Land Retirement Makes Sense - Westlands Water District 2002, pdf.)

"The state should immediately buy up thousands of acres of irrigated farmland on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and give it a rest. That land is laden with poisonous selenium; the more it's irrigated (with delta water), the more the tainted runoff pollutes the environment." (Preserving the imperiled California Delta - Los Angeles Times 26may2007)

"Today Westlands is not crowded with family farms, as in the early vision, but instead has about 600 growers on 600,000 acres. The costly water subsidies that keep it alive make less and less sense in a changing global economy. Taking most of the district’s land out of production, as in the recent settlement, is the best course." (It's time to mop up west side's water debacle - Fresno Bee 17mar2003)

"It would be far more effective and ten times less expensive to retire the land and shut off the irrigation pumps." (Massive California Water Reclamation Scheme Full of Holes - Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility 30aug2007)

I have sent my email to Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

All California residents should send their own letters or emails to United States Senator Dianne Feinstein. Don't let our precious water supplies and taxpayer dollars be wasted on enriching the pollution farms of the western San Joaquin valley!!

For more information:
California Delta Water Supply Policy and River Conservation Articles.
California Delta Directory - Conservation, Recreation & Water Policy. (79 sites).
Selenium Directory - toxic waste in irrigation drainage from the western San Joaquin Valley of California (33 sites).

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The California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) has joined with the California Sport Fishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and filed a complaint with the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) asking them to uphold their mandate and revoke the water rights permits for the State Water Project (SWP) and the Central Valley Project (CVP)until these agencies cut back pumping from the Delta and stop the collapse of the Delta fisheries and eco-systems. This complaint has been filed based on the Public Trust Doctrine that requires these agencies to operate in the greater public interest; not just for the benefit of a few land owners. The complaint also asks that the agencies uphold the California Constitution Article 10, Section2 banning the waste and unreasonable use of water. We believe it is unreasonable to put perfectly good water on land that leaches selenium, arsenic and other toxics; mix it with toxic pesticides and fertilizers and then dump it into the San Joaquin River . These practices also violate the State and Federal Clean Water Acts.

C-WIN is pledged to take the Water Board (SWRCB) to court if they don't comply and follow the law. We believe this is the only way to bring about the needed change in the way the agencies operate these major water projects.
Thanks to California Water Impact Network and California Sport Fishing Protection Alliance. Keep up the good work!!
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