Farm rally to be held Monday to protest water plan

Farmers, cattlemen, and Farm Bureau members from Central and Northern California will join Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, on the steps of the State Capitol on Monday as he leads the charge to protest Phase 1 of the State Water Resources Control Board’s Bay Delta Plan.

Gray will hold a rally at noon on Aug. 20 in Sacramento to protest the plan that would reallocate between 30 and 50 percent of all unimpaired water runoff on the Merced, Tuolumne, and Stanislaus rivers for the protection of fish. In a subsequent phase, the Board proposes similar, additional standards of between 45 and 65 percent in the Sacramento Valley and Delta.

Gray organized the rally following the announcement last month from the Water Resources Control Board that ignores what he said is a decade’s worth of science and public opinion by adopting “radical new requirements to seize and waste critically needed San Joaquin Valley water supplies.”

“The State Water Resources Control Board’s decision is the first shot fired in the next chapter of California’s water wars,” Gray said, in a statement. “The board has chosen to create, in their own words, ‘a permanent regulatory drought’ and shrugged off our concerns as ‘significant but unavoidable.’”

The final public comment period on Phase 1 closed July 27, with adoption scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 21.

In a letter from the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF), the State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal is only the initial phase of a multi-phase process that would ultimately target even greater flows from the Sacramento Valley and Eastern Delta, resulting in a magnitude of human impacts.

According to the Farm Bureau Federation, “by the final Substitute Environmental Document’s own reckoning, 30 to 50 percent unimpaired standards on the three tributaries would reduce surface water diversions in the three affected watersheds by an average of 180,000 to 490,000 acre-feet a year, and up to 900,000 acre-feet in dry years.”
“Cold water pool requirements would commandeer an additional 800,000 acre-feet of reservoir space through the summer through late September,” wrote Christian Scheuring, senior counsel for the CFBF. “Worse still, just as local districts prepare to meet the challenge of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, a combination of reduced recharge and increased pumping would reduce groundwater supplies by an average of 118,000 to 370,000 acre-feet a year.”

California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johannsson has asked Colusa County farm bureau members and others beyond the immediately affected Central Valley counties to attend the large farm rally on Monday, which will be held at noon just outside the State Capital building.