Interior Secretary's Water Plan Not Supported By West Side Farmers

FRESNO, Calif. Secretary Salazar has launched the Watersmart Initiative. "SMART" stands for "Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow." The Obama administration plans to set aside 72-million dollars for the program.

Almond trees are in bloom but west side growers wonder if they'll have enough water to see the crop through.

Interior Secretary Salazar said his initiative will improve water conservation. Salazar said, "We will be able to increase water supply for agriculture, municipal and environmental uses in the western United States by 350-thousand acre-feet by 2012."

Riverdale farmer Mark Borba responded by saying, "Sounds like a nice number except you look that it's going to be available for environmental, urban other uses. Oh yeah and agriculture. I don't hold out much hope that would ever come down to our area."

Borba just planted his tomato crop for the summer harvest but he may get a zero allocation when the Bureau of Reclamation announces its initial water delivery this week. Borba said, "Every day that passes we're shootin' craps like we're in Vegas."

Secretary Salazar's plan also calls for water consuming operations to reduce their usage by 20-percent over the next decade.

Borba said, "They're not in the real world. There may be inefficiencies elsewhere around the nation. I think flood irrigation is prominent in many areas but out here every drop of water is precious."

But Salazar said, "Unless we chart a new course we will be left with a water shortage and water crises that will affect almost every community throughout the country."

Borba calls Senator Dianne Feinstein's water amendment a better plan. It would ease federal restrictions and give west side farmers a 40-percent water allocation.

Feinstein has run into some opposition, some from fellow democrats, but she hopes to attach the amendment to the jobs bill.

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