January 5, 2017

Updated: Farmers describe problems with river-flow plan

People from the northern San Joaquin Valley left their farms, classrooms and local government buildings to voice opposition to a plan by the State Water Resources Control Board that would affect the flow of water for the San Joaquin River and its tributaries-the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. The board says the purpose of the plan is to leave more water in the tributaries during periods it considers key for at-risk native fish species. An estimated 1,000 people poured into the Modesto Centre Plaza in downtown Modesto on Tuesday, to listen to the hearing and provide public testimony regarding how the board’s plan would affect farmers, local government services and the regional economy. The proposal, known as the revised Substitute Environmental Document and released in September, recommends between 30 percent and 50 percent of the rivers’ unimpaired flow be dedicated to fish; the board says unimpaired flow averages 20 percent under current conditions. The starting point suggested by staff is 40 percent. If adopted and implemented as proposed, local irrigation districts estimate up to 240,000 acres of farmland would be dried up in order to redirect water to fishery uses. Read More

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