Farmers and Feds to Butt Heads?

An article from the USA Today suggests that some Fresno area farmers are receiving less water for their fields, not because of drought, but due to Federal restrictions on the San Joaquin Delta that are meant to protect endangered fish species. The article, entitled “California Farmers Say Feds Make Drought Worse,” almost seems to be a counterpoint to the article I summarized a few days ago.

While the aforementioned article suggested that Farmers could use less water and help conserve for the entire state, this article suggests that some of these farmers don’t have much water themselves. One of those farmers, Todd Allen, believes that restrictions on taking water from the Delta are more to blame for his lack of water than the drought itself. He’s not alone, either. Over 200,000 acres of farmland in Fresno County alone have not had crops due to the water shortage.

But where does this idea that fish protection is the cause of water shortage come from? The article says that in 2007, a federal judge imposed restrictions on pumping from the Delta, following suits that claim removing water from the delta is detrimental to endangered species like smelt and salmon.

The article mentions the Pacific Institute, the same group that conducted the survey for the previous article that found data that suggests farmers could simply cut back on their water use and help the whole state. The representative from Pacific Institute insists that these farmers are just trying to use the current shortage as leverage to overturn the restrictions.

So with so much finger pointing, how can this problem of drought be alleviated? What are your thoughts?

You can read the article here.  For the previous article, check my post entitled “Farm Water Conservation a Short Term Answer for California?” or click here.


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