A Passionate Plea from the Valley for More Water

FRESNO, Calif. "Gentlemen, let me tell you, this is a serious problem. This is a catastrophe. This is our Katrina, this is our Haiti because we got people out of work," Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson told the panel. The pleas were all for more water because pumping restrictions are in place to protect the endangered Delta Smelt.

The forum was hosted by Valley Representative Devin Nunes, who brought other congressmen along to hear just how dire the crisis is. They say house Democrats have been unwilling to help find a solution. "All that's required is political will. The good news is that is rapidly changing across the country," said Representative Tom McClintock.

"I think once we educate people in the Valley and people in the state on this issue, people will wake up and say, enough already," said Nunes.

Smelt supporters seemed to steer clear of the town hall meeting, but a fishing industry spokesperson told Action News they're willing to help find a solution to support legitimate crops, however, this fight is really just about the sale of water to developers. "What we're seeing coming out of the San Joaquin Valley, we're seeing more and more farmers, particularly some of these large agricultural interests, they're not taking the water for farming. They're selling it to Irvine Ranch, they're selling it to the Mojave Water District," said Zeke Grader, with the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen Association.

For Valley farmers, though, this is crunch time. Mario Santoyo with the California Latino Water Coalition said the industry can't take any more setbacks. "People barely survived last season. This season, if there isn't water, it will be a tremendous blow to farmers, to communities, to workers. It's not going to be a pretty picture," said Santoyo.

Action News also talked to a spokesperson for Congressman Jim Costa's office Monday. He said Costa stands by his efforts to bring water to Valley communities. Monday afternoon, Costa participated in a hearing in Los Angeles dealing with challenges in California's water supply.

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