Friant Farmers Insist Lawmakers Hammer Out Water Solution
April 15, 2014
The passage and letter below from the Lower Tule and Pixley Irrigation Districts was released yesterday by Families Protecting the Valley. These districts are Friant contractors and key members of the Friant Water Authority. They are recommending a revision of the San Joaquin River Restoration program to accomplish a ‘live river’ but not decimate the farms and communities of the East Side that have relied on this surface water for decades.
This is a well written and courageous letter, and the directors listed on the correspondence and General Manager, Mr. Dan Vink, deserve praise. We implore the other Friant Water Authority contractors to quickly send a similar letter reflecting the same views, and vote to have the Friant Water Authority to do the same. This issue will be decided in two weeks after the federal legislators return from their recess.
It is rare when we in the Central Valley have an opportunity to be a part of the discussion especially when something positive is being discussed concerning our water use.
In addition to Friant contactors, other organizations (e.g., farm bureaus) that are involved in agriculture or are dependent on this water (e.g., cities, counties, chamber of commerce, etc.) need to also send in letters of support.
Several of our directors have been involved in this effort, and it is a long standing recommendation of FPV to do exactly what is recommended.
The Honorable Senator Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Congressman David Valadao
Washington, D.C. Office
1004 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Re: Support for S. 2198 and HR 3964
Dear Senator Feinstein and Congressman Valadao,
The Boards of Directors of the Lower Tule River and Pixley Irrigation District wholeheardedly support S.2198(California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014) and HR3964(Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act). Specific to S.2198, we urge passage by the Senate immediately so these bills can be discussed in a joint process with Senate and House representatives.
More important than any of the words in these bills, we support, and insist you and your colleagues begin the process of rolling up your sleeves and working together to hammer out a balanced solution on California water issues. We are in a serious crisis and the partisan bickering, finger pointing blame game back home is doing nothing to solve the problems. It is nonsense and serves no purpose other than to divide the good people of the Valley. We urge you to rise above the petty noise and hammer out a solution. The water supply reductions we are facing this year are having devastating consequences made worse daily by the inaction of the agencies and Congress to find a balanced approach to distributing water throughout California.
We must have a reasonable set of export rules for the Delta. Our districts know the importance of this now more than ever. It is the failure to capture flows in the Delta that is directly causing a zero projected allocation for the Friant Division, on which we rely. The fish agencies and the courts have not been able to establish viable rules in the Delta, and the result is unmitigated disaster for agriculture in California. We expect the eventual drought bill to address this crucial issue in a real way in order to get water to California farms and stop the damage caused by wasteful use of water on fish programs that do not actually serve fish.
HR 2964 calls for a repeal of the San Joaquin River Settlement Act. We cannot unwind the clock and "do away with the Settlement" and anyone who advocates that position never completely understood the settlement issues in the first place. We agree with both of you when you have publicly said that Restoration has been difficult and expensive to implement and that it is time to reassess the plan(See, for example,Fresno Bee, March 8, 2014). The idea of restoring salmon to the San Joaquin in the timeline envisioned at the outset, and with the money it was projected to cost, was always a long shot. We all knew that Restoration was going to be an evolving plan - it is time for it to evolve.
We want to see a viable San Joaquin River for fish, farming and families. If we are going to get there, it is going to take all the parties coming to the table and dealing rationally with the facts on the ground. We welcome that opportunity and insist it is needed to protect the investment in time and money we have all made to date. Repeal is not an option, but reassessment is a requirement. If we are going to have a sustainable fishery program on the San Joaquin River and a vibrant farming economy in the Valley, we must begin the process.
Both of you have shown a willingness in the past to lead on this issue, and that is why we want to support both of your bills, despite having differences with some of their individual terms. We are confident the two of you working together will become a dynamic combination for us to follow once again. The pending release of Reclamation's revised implementation plan for San Joaquin River Restoration should provide the framework for the discussion.
The impacts facing our collective constituents require we all work together to get legislation passed and changes made. Failure is not an option. Our Districts look forward to working with you and your colleagues to find common sense solutions to serve the interests of all Californians.
Gary Fernandes, President, Lower Tule River Irrigation District
Frank Junio, President, Pixley Irrigation District
cc: Senator Barbara Boxer, Congressman Devin Nunes , Congressman Jim Costa, Congressman Tom McClintock, Congressman Doug LaMalfa , Congressman Jared Huffman, Friant Water Authority, Westlands Water District , San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Users Authority , Exchange Contractors
Lower Tule Board : Gary Fernandes, President; John Roeloffs, Vice President ; Jim Costa, Director ; Tom Barcellos, Director ; Alex Garcia, Director
Pixley Board : Frank Junio, President; Russell Schott, Vice President; Bill DeGroot, Director ; Randall Parreira, Director; Neal Westbrook, Director; Daniel G. Vink, General Manager; Eric Limas, Business Manager ; Beth Grote-Lewis, Assessor; Alex Peltzer, Legal Counsel