Water hearing draws overflow crowd

FRESNO, Calif.

The overflow crowd then spilled into council chambers, even packing the upper balcony.

A House congressional committee heard how past droughts impacted the Valley's west side.

Huron mayor Sylvia Chavez said, "Our crime rate went up during the time when there was no water. They had cut down on a lot of jobs. A lot of our community members moved away too."

Many were frustrated over federal pumping restrictions in the delta due to environmental concerns.

Firebaugh farmer George Delgado said, "The water that has been legally stolen from us has been diverted through the Sacramento river through the delta to clean all the sewage from the cities along the coast."

Congressman Tom McClintock, (R) Roseville, explained, "Here's the simple truth of the matter. Droughts are nature's fault. Water shortages are our fault."

Eight members of congress took part in the hearing. Seven republicans, one democrat.

Congressman Jim Costa, (D) Fresno, talked of the need of compromise among lawmakers. He said, "I'm angry in the face of the devastation we continue to point fingers and play the blame game and it does not bring us one add drop of water."

Lawmakers hoped the session helps craft a cooperative effort to find solutions to a growing problem.

Congressman David Valadao, (R) Hanford, said, "Having hearings like this help bring more attention to what's going on in the Valley to make sure there's a face with the situation that we have here."

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