Downtown Fresno Water Rally

July 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The latest fight for water could "flood" into downtown Fresno Wednesday morning. A crowd of thousands is expected at city hall to support the effort to release water to Valley farms.The point of today's rally is to make a lot of noise. Politicians, growers and their supporters will gather at city hall hoping to keep the water issue for Central Valley farms alive. But along with the attention, comes more scrutiny.

"The intent of the rally is to keep the issue alive in the media and in the public eye," said Mario Santoyo with the Latino Water Coalition.

With agriculture the number one business in the Valley, political leaders are eager to help. "But we have to keep the pressure up. That's what this rally is all about tomorrow (Wednesday), is continuing to draw attention to this issue," said Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.

The governor and local congressmen are also on board, calling for more water for Valley crops. They made enough noise to get the secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar to come to town to listen.

But their claims that the water shortage is caused by the endangered species act, or ESA, to protect fish in the Sacramento Delta, are under dispute. Scientists at the Pacific Institute are among those challenging the claims. "Even if the ESA went away, we'd still have a drought and recent pumping restrictions related to the delta smelt have actually only reduced water exports from the delta about 5%."

The Latino Water Coalition is hoping for long term solutions, like dams, and a canal to bring water from Northern California to the Valley, bypassing the delta and its fish.

Roads will be blocked in downtown Fresno when the rally kicks off at City Hall at 11am. The group will circle through downtown, past the plaza courtyard and back up to city hall.

Stay with Action News and ABC30.com for more on this developing story ..

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