Reedley growth plan prompts water fight

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Blossoms and dirt will transform into homes and businesses under the proposed Blossom Trail project. (KFSN)

The city of Reedley is facing a fight over its plans to grow and water is the main sticking point.

Blossoms and dirt will transform into homes and businesses under the proposed Blossom Trail project. But the city is meeting resistance in the waterways.

"Did they work with us on the plan?" asked P. Scott Browne, an attorney for the Consolidate Irrigation District. "No. They cut us out completely, because I guess they don't want to hear what we have to say."

CID, representing about 7,000 farmers, filed a lawsuit against the city this month, trying to stop the development for taking groundwater.
It says Reedley's growth plans won't replace the water all the new homes will use. They've actually sued over the city's 2030 growth plan, and every development planned since then.

"All these lawsuits will miraculously go away if we sign this agreement they've asked us to sign that pays them a fee so in my view, (it's) a little bit of modern day extortion," said Reedley city manager Nicole Zieba.

Zieba says one of the lawsuits killed the Kings River Village, which was one of the most environmentally friendly developments in the country. She points out the city won an award for sustainable planning and says it's already a responsible water user.

"The loss between what we pull out and what we put back in is actually much less than what people might think because we do so much recharge here in Reedley," Zieba said.

The city manager says a lot of that recharging happens on the west side of the Kings River, in the small area where CID's territory overlaps with Reedley's.

But the irrigation district claims it won't be enough if the city follows through on a plan to triple in size over the next 13 years.

"This is the single most important decision the city of Reedley is making for its future and it's not properly taking into account the impact of that decision on groundwater of agriculture and other resources," Browne said.

The first lawsuit between CID and Reedley is scheduled for trial in June.

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fresno countywaterReedley
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