Calif. Water Rights Reform May Help Westside Farmers

October 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Valley's dry spell has affected some farms, but not others. It depends on where they are in the so called "bucket line" of water rights.Those at the end of that line, like the Westlands Water District have been hit by the drought, and pumping restrictions to protect fish. But some adjacent districts have more than enough water. The legislation approved by congress would ease the restrictions on water sales, or transfers.

Sarah Woolf, of the Westlands district said the legislation will help, a little.

"There's a lot of excess water out there in the system that people are willing to sell, and so there's a fair amount that could make it to the west side and be very beneficial. But we fallowed 260,000 acres of land in Westlands alone this year," said Woolf, "That's a lot of acreage to make up. This will bring back some of that, but in no way will it bring back all of it."

The measure also includes more than $40-million dollars toward restoration of the California Bay Delta program. About $10-million of that could be used for water projects in the Central Valley.

The legislation was pushed through by democratic senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Similar legislation in the house was sponsored by democrats Jim Costa and Dennis Cardoza.

The measure is now on the President Obama's desk, waiting for his signature.


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