Drought Trouble?

July 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Two different types of potentially dangerous weather in the valley. While many farmers suffer through a bad drought, strange storms left the skies dark.The small amount of rain isn't enough to help farmers who've suffered through serious drought.

Some state leaders say California is facing an unprecedented water crisis and the time to act is now. On Monday morning the house subcommittee on water and power will meet in downtown Fresno to talk about the federal government's response to the state drought.

This is the second subcommittee hearing this year to tackle the state's lack of water and the problems that come with it. But there won't be any money given out or votes taken, just a goal to find some short and long-term solutions to our water crisis.

A drought has plagued much of Fresno and surrounding counties since March. In the wake of all this dust a total of 20,000 acres of farm land has been abandoned. Fresno County Supervisor and retired farmer Phil Larson said that's about $86-million dollars. "There's water up there, we can let water through the channel, we can let water through the pumps. But with all the environmental emotion that's involved with it and political ill will. I mean I'm one of those politicians. We don't seem to have the guts to make people understand that we got a problem out here."

The problem is so severe the unemployment rate in the city of Mendota is 40% percent. Farmers can't plant without water so they're not hiring workers. Businesses are closing and this west Fresno County city is losing out on taxes. "We're the perfect picture of the worst scenario that can happen when you have water cut backs and also the drought situation," said Mendota Mayor Robert Silva.

Mendota Mayor Robert Silva and Supervisor Larson plan to ask for help from a congressional subcommittee on water and power in Fresno on Monday.

Tal Cloud with protectthevalley.org will also be at that meeting. He's asking for better water management. "It's not about the drought, it's about a water management plan. We're gonna have droughts and we're gonna have floods, but we need to hold that water," said Cloud.

Cloud plans to protest Congressman Jim Costa and George Radanovich's water policies. He's also upset about a federal judge's ruling Friday that said the current water system threatens the salmon population. The ruling could determine where and how much water is allowed downstream. "Water's the number one issue that drives this valley and if we keep giving it away to solve a problem in the delta, we're not gonna get better."

The house subcommittee hearing starts at 10 am at Fresno's City Hall. Some of the things that will be discussed include building a reservoir and passing a water bond package.


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