Farmers, Environmentalists Attack California Water Plan

Dec. 28, 2000

Government agencies finally have completed a draft plan to address Northern California's water distribution problems, but farmers and environmentalists have been quick to attack the plan since it was released in June.

The CALFED plan represents six years of state and federal negotiations in attempt to satisfy agricultural, rural and urban water users, while leaving enough water to protect and restore river habitat.

Farmers in California’s Central Valley, where irrigated crop land supplies almost 45 percent of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, said the plan does not guarantee enough water for agricultural users. Environmentalists say a provision that would remove about one million acre-feet of water from the San Francisco Bay Delta each year would endanger the region’s wildlife. Conservation groups argue that expanding storage capacity in a handful of reservoirs, as the plan requires, would waste water and lower river flow levels below reservoir dams.

California immediately will start spending more than $500 million in state and federal funds to address a backlog of environmental projects, including breaching some small dams and enlarging others.

The San Francisco Bay-Delta system supplies drinking water for more than 22 million Californians, irrigation water for more than seven million acres of the world's most productive farmland, and supports some 450 fish and wildlife species.

For more about the plan, visit:

(Source: Environment News Service)