Farmers Versus Fish Fight Heats Up

California’s water wars are enduring salvos from all the way to the White House and the Department of the Interior, Sacramento attracted a farmers-inspired protest earlier this week. No word if salmon will take a break from their spawning runs up the Sacramento and Feather Rivers to counter-protest as water allocation from the Delta accelerates.

Here’s more from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Central Valley farmers and their elected leaders converged on Sacramento on Tuesday to accuse the state of engineering a water grab that puts the fate of fish above their fields and jeopardizes a thriving agricultural economy.

The allegations came at a meeting of the powerful State Water Resources Control Board, which recently unveiled a far-reaching plan to shore up the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the West Coast’s largest estuary and a source of water for much of California.

The plan calls for irrigation districts as well as some urban water suppliers, including San Francisco, to reduce their draws on rivers that feed the delta in an effort to boost inflows into the depleted estuary and help wildlife.

The Modesto Bee was also on hand and checked in on the environmental side of the issue:

An hour before Monday’s rally, a coalition of delta protection and environmental groups held an event to criticize the water board’s plan for not guaranteeing enough river flows for salmon and steelhead trout. About 25 people attended the quiet affair.

Noah Oppenheim, director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations, said the number of coastal salmon fishing outfits has dropped over 40 years from 4,500 to 450.

With an average of 20 percent natural flow in the Tuolumne, corporate farming operations have grown fat by holding a tight grip on water rights to the detriment of the fishing industry, Oppenheim fumed.

“It’s time they go on a diet,” Oppenheim said. “It’s us versus you and we will win.”

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