Valley Water Crisis Draws National Attention

August 26, 2009 12:56:20 AM PDT
After months of trying to bring national attention to the Valley's water crisis ... the California Latino Water Coalition believes Washington is finally taking notice. Tuesday the second ranking democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives toured the west side of the Valley ... Wednesday the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture will be in town ... Latino Water Coalition representatives say it may not be long before the president gets involved.It's becoming a familiar sight across the Valley. Long lines of needy families waiting for food. A combination of several years of drought and a lack of delta water has left communities like Mendota in desperate need of help. Fresno Congressman Jim Costa invited House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to see the desperation first hand.

Costa said, "The sad commentary is in the richest nation in the world that this is happening here is uncalled for. We've gotta convince the folks in Washington and in Sacramento that we're living on borrowed time."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, "I can't believe that the most innovative, entrepreneurial country on the face of the earth can't figure out how to get water to these fields and save fish and fowl at the same time ... I think we can do that."

Mario Santoyo of the California Latino Water Coalition says public attention to the Valley's water crisis began back in April when thousands of farm workers, farmers and concerned citizens marched across the Valley's Westside. The march attracted the attention of Governor Schwarzenegger and state legislators. The momentum has now moved to the nation's capitol.

Mario Santoyo said, "It's not just an issue for our Valley, but an issue for our nation. You can't have the highest producing agricultural area without water and not have an effect on the nation."

On Wednesday, Jim Costa will host California Senator Dianne Feinstein and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Santoya says water will be a focus of their agenda.

Santoya said, "He will get immersed in understanding the crisis of water ... which is the beginning point of getting them educated and interested in some paths to try to help us."

Santoya wouldn't give any specifics, but he said, "I wouldn't be surprised, at the end of the day, if we didn't see a president here."

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