March for Water

April 3, 2009 12:48:26 AM PDT
Darkened skies and mile-high clouds of dust epitomize the devastating years of the Dust Bowl. Tens of thousands fled the southern Plains in the 1930's and migrated west. Many settled right here in the San Joaquin Valley. Now, three quarters of a century later some Valley leaders worry that history may repeat itself.State Assembly Member Juan Arambula said, "What we're experiencing, if we're not careful, is a Dust Bowl in reverse where people begin to leave the richest agricultural areas in the nation."

Foreboding words from Arambula. He, along with other Valley leaders, comedian and Valley Native Paul Rodriguez, stood beside growers and farm workers to announce a 24 mile "March for Water". April 14th people demanding a water resolution from Sacramento will begin walking from Rojas Pierce Park in Mendota and end up at the San Luis Reservoir April 17th.

Paul Rodriguez said, "We want them to know that we need you to do the right thing for the greater good. Open those pumps! Let the water flow!"

Water pumps are shut down and growers are getting less water to protect certain endangered fish. The latest check of the Sierra Snowpack doesn't provide much hope. It's 20 percent below normal for this time of year. Couple that with a statewide drought and the California Department of Resources worries it will only be able to deliver 20-percent of what San Joaquin Valley farmers have requested this year.

Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson said, "There is only one thing that solves the problem and that is water for the San Joaquin Valley. Because when they take it from the West side the East side is next."

But environmental experts say not so fast. Jim Metropulos with the Sierra Club said, "It represents the fact that we are sucking water out of the system. It's not being replaced and pretty soon we might not have enough water for all people and users in California."

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