Leg­is­la­tors, Res­i­dents Rally Against State Plan

Riverbank News - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­GELINA MARTIN

Farm­ers, la­bor­ers, stu­dents, cit­i­zens and even law­mak­ers op­posed to a plan they be­lieve will dis­rupt North­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s wa­ter sup­ply demon­strated on the steps of the State Capi­tol on Mon­day, urg­ing the State Wa­ter Re­sources Con­trol Board to re­ject the pro­posal that would cut wa­ter use for the ben­e­fit of fish and wildlife.

De­spite ve­he­ment op­po­si­tion from a broad coali­tion of lo­cal gov­ern­ments and or­ga­ni­za­tions, the wa­ter board in July re­leased its third and fi­nal draft of the Bay-Del-

ta Wa­ter Qual­ity Con­trol Plan up­date, which calls for al­lo­ca­tion of 40 per­cent of unim­paired flows along the lower San Joaquin River and its trib­u­taries – the Stanis­laus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers – to help re­ha­bil­i­tate the area’s na­tive fish species.

The plan is the re­sult of a nine-year process that has been met with re­sis­tance from wa­ter stake­hold­ers and their elected of­fi­cials ev­ery step of the way, with many famers and lo­cal wa­ter agen­cies feel­ing as if the Board has in­deed waged a wa­ter war on the San Joaquin Val­ley.

When the first draft of the plan was re­leased in Septem­ber 2016, hun­dreds of leg­is­la­tors, wa­ter and agri­cul­tural lead­ers, agency rep­re­sen­ta­tives and com­mu­nity mem­bers ad­dressed the Board three months later

in Modesto, shar­ing the po­ten­tial im­pacts the wa­ter de­ci­sion could have on both farm­ers and the com­mu­nity at large.

“I would of­fer up to you to­day that no one in this room thinks 40 or 50 per­cent unim­paired flows is a bal­anced ap­proach,” Stanis­laus County Su­per­vi­sor Vito Chiesa told the Board at that 2016 pub­lic hear­ing. “Peo­ple are scared. They re­ally are with what this can do to them, what this can do to the Val­ley. Please lis­ten to the peo­ple.”

The grass­roots ef­fort on Aug. 20 saw a uni­fied group storm the State Capi­tol to once again plead its case with the Board.

The “Stop the State Wa­ter Grab” rally comes just days ahead of the Board’s hear­ing to con­sider the plan, and over 500 peo­ple were ex­pected to make their way to Sacra­mento for a protest on the North Steps.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives like As-

sem­bly­man Adam Gray – who or­ga­nized the protest – along with Assem­bly­man Heath Flora and Con­gress­man Jeff Den­ham were to be present at the rally as well.

“We want the rest of the state to see how im­por­tant the Val­ley is,” Den­ham said. “Wa­ter af­fects more than just agri­cul­ture … it’s our recre­ation, it’s our power, it’s our drink­ing wa­ter. You take 40 per­cent of it, we’ll not only have less of it but the qual­ity of wa­ter will go down with it. We want the en­tire state to un­der­stand how this new de­ci­sion will im­pact us and that we’re go­ing to fight back.”

Along with the Mon­day rally, the pub­lic was en­cour­aged to at­tend and make com­ments at the State Wa­ter Board’s hear­ing for the BayDelta Plan up­date, which was hosted Tues­day, Aug. 21 in the Cal EPA Build­ing, 1001 I St. in Sacra­mento.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.wor­thy­our­fight.org.

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