Firebaugh Water Celebration

May 10, 2009 12:17:07 PM PDT
The Central Valley's farming community gathered in Firebaugh Saturday to celebrate their quest for more water and their efforts to push the issue forward."Folks today is not a celebration of a victory because we have not had a victory yet. But we're gonna have a victory....yeah!!"

Comedian Paul Rodriguez joined other activists and elected officials inside Firebaugh high school's stadium Saturday, giving hundreds of farmers, farm workers and their supporters hope that their quest for water will soon be filled. "I believe in the next week or so we will have those pumps open."

Congressman Jim Costa said, "The pumps are not the primary reason for the decline of fisheries in the delta and that's the bottom line." Congressman Jim Costa has been advocating the release of water into the Valley's Westside fields.

But, some think his work is not enough. A man confronted Costa, asking for his recall. Costa immediately left, after local law enforcement intervened.

Saturday's event comes just weeks after thousands of people took part in a four day, 30 mile march for water. It was there that they passed through towns like Firebaugh, where the unemployment rate is above 40 percent.

People here say no water, means no work.

Kay Ferguson said, "This year we basically have no cotton to harvest for our harvesting business so that really hurts us financially."

Though many say this year has been a total loss for valley farmers, activists are urging everyone in this community to keep hope alive.

Santiago Aguilar said, "With hope, there can always be change, and as long as that hope continues that the water will be released then eventually I believe the change will come."

Paul Rodriguez said, "I'm gonna go back to telling jokes and you people gonna go back to farming and this is gonna have a happy ending. I trust in that."

There is a glimmer of hope for Valley farmers and farm workers. State water officials are now asking the federal government to rewrite rules that protect the delta smelt, which could eventually bring more water to the Central Valley.

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