March for Water, Drawing Attention to the Drought

April 10, 2009 9:57:35 AM PDT
Hundreds of farmers and farm workers will be marching side by side for four days next week to bring attention to the state's lack of water.The California Latino Water Coalition has arranged the march to wind through western of Fresno County. It's one of the areas of California most ravaged by the water crisis.

Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson said, "This is make or break! We get water now or we don't plant!" Phil Larson has watched his district literally dry up. Parched ground has led to dry farms which has led to empty wallets and forty percent unemployment in some towns.

Larson said, "Everybody says this is a famine. It's not a famine. It's an environmentally caused drought. We've had shorter water years than this and got 30 percent water. Now we've got nothing because of endangered species act rules."

City and county leaders, farmers, community organizers and law enforcement have all come together to plan for next week's March for Water. It's a march that's hoped will bring nationwide attention to the Central Valley's desperate water situation.

One Fresno County Farmer, Bob Diedrich said, "We've laid down for 25 years getting our *** kicked. We're not gonna lay down this time! I'm not! This is the end for me. If this don't happen, this is the end."

Farmers like Diedrich say if they don't receive any water by the end of the month, their land will lie fallow for at least the next year. The march route will go through the towns of Mendota and Firebaugh, west to I-5 and north to the San Luis Reservoir.

Thousands from all over the state are expected to turn out. March organizer Mario Santoyo said, "I've been meeting with people from Sacramento and from organizations throughout the state and they've been coming to us and saying 'we're taking people, we're going!'"

The March begins with a rally in Mendota Tuesday morning at 8 a.m.

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