West Side Farmers Appeal to Get More Water

January 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The announcement was made Sunday at a press conference on the UC-Davis campus, where the National Academy of Sciences panel is meeting this week to discuss the biological opinion behind regulations that protect the delta smelt. As West Side farmers prepare for another year of reduced water allocations, a team of lawyers are trying to fight the root of the problem, federal regulations that protect the Delta Smelt. "The Delta Smelt is found only in California and it has no commercial value. And for these reasons, federal officials are exceeding their constitutional authority by imposing regulations for the Delta Smelt," Brandon Middleton with the Pacific Legal Foundation.

Last month, a Fresno district court judge struck down a lawsuit that challenged Delta Smelt regulations.

Monday morning, Pacific Legal Foundation, a firm representing West Side Farmers, will file an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court challenging that decision, which they say is unconstitutional.

But, environmentalists Action News spoke to don't agree.

"You know, it's being filed by people that are in big time denial. The Delta estuary requires a certain amount of water to maintain it and its fisheries," Zeke Grader with the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman Associations.

West side farmers like Ryan Ferguson don't see it that way. He says water allocation to his 1,700-acre Huron farm has gotten so bad, he's had to eliminate certain crops and lay off long-time employees.

"Maybe if Secretary Salazar and the interior came out to my farm and saw the people come to my office every day asking for jobs. When I have no jobs to give them, out of desperation, they ask for five dollars to give them to buy a bag of diapers for their babies. I don't think Salazar has ever seen that, and if he did see that, maybe he would actually do something to help the situation," said Ferguson.

Aside from the public forum at UC Davis this week to discuss these water issues, there will also be a town hall meeting tomorrow morning at Fresno City Hall.

Valley representatives Devin Nunes and Tom McClintock will be there. It starts at 8:30 a.m. inside City Council Chambers.