Governor Declares State of Emergency for Central Valley Water Shortage

June 12, 2008 6:06:49 PM PDT
The governor declared a state of emergency for nine California Counties, including Fresno, Tulare, Kings, Madera and Merced.The governors declaration means water that would otherwise be unused, can be pumped into the state system. Growers in western Fresno County will benefit the most.

The entire state is in a drought, but the governor is providing some relief to Central Valley growers.

Governor: "We have to move water around as quickly as possible. Because the Federal Government has just cut off more water to the farmers, and I think that's very dangerous because we rely so heavily on agriculture."

Under the emergency declaration growers will receive assistance in drilling wells. It will allow the transfer of groundwater to the California Aqueduct and provide more water from state reservoirs, like the San Luis Reservoir. The governor's emergency declaration is welcome news to the growers in the giant Westlands Water District.

Sara Woolf, Westlands Attorney: "We're very happy the Governor did what he did today in declaring a state of emergency. We're hopeful this will allow for many acres to stay in production."

With the governors declaration, well water that is too salty for some crops, like almonds can be pumped into the state water system, this blend will dilute the salts and make the water usable.

Lester: "It will allow us to pump some groundwater into the aqueduct and deliver water to some of the farmers that are being shorted. It will allow us to more efficiently move water from other parts of the state to farmers who are being hardest hit."

The big problem on the west side is that growers have lost expected federal water supplies because of the low runoff and court rulings on preserving water for endangered fish species.

Environmentalists have expressed concern about the use of the groundwater which contains elements like boron and are threatening legal action.


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