03.31.2010 0

California Water Crisis: Fish vs. Man

  • On: 04/07/2010 09:56:27
  • In: Economy
  • By Rebekah Rast

    The Central Valley of California was once known as the breadbasket of the world—supplying about one-third of the nation’s food. But today, the Westside of the Central Valley is home to hundreds of thousands of acres of dry and desolate land.

    Water is now scarcer than ever in this agriculturally rich land. To make matters worse, about 40,000 jobs have been lost as a result, leaving families nowhere to go but to the local food banks.

    The Delta smelt, a three-inch bait fish, seems to have won the battle for water—the same water that is necessary for food growth and jobs in the highest-producing valley in the nation. How did a small fish win such a big battle? On August 31, 2007, California Federal Judge Oliver Wanger of Federal District Court protected the declining fish by severely curtailing human use water deliveries at San Joaquin-Sacramento River delta from December to June. These are the pumps at the Banks Pumping Plant that send water to Central and Southern California for agricultural and residential use.
    According to a May 2009 study conducted by the University of California, Davis, 35,285 jobs and $1.6 billion in economic revenue have been lost as a result of this environmental ploy in the Central Valley.

    “The democrats have chosen radical environmental policies over workers,” says Mario Lopez, President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund.

    Giving farmers some reprieve was an announcement by Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, stating Westside farmers would receive 25 percent of their water allocation versus the 5 percent they were projected to receive. But this is still not enough. What it comes down to is this: a democratic-run Congress and Administration sees fit to let 40,000-plus people lose their jobs and watch the most fertile ground in the nation go dry, simply to protect a bait fish.

    Because of this, unemployment has reached about 30 percent in some of these agricultural towns. Though California and individual counties do not keep record of Latino employment numbers, in the Central California city of Mendota, unemployment averaged 39.4 percent for 2009, of which 94.7 percent of the population is Latino, according to the 2000 Census Report.

    “This is a real travesty,” Lopez says about Latinos being hit the hardest by the water crisis. “These people are ready to work. They want to pursue the American Dream and provide for their families. It’s devastating to see the effects of these policies.”

    With the help of a few politicians and organizations, the plight of the Central Valley is being exposed. It is no small problem when a fish is valued over the lives of thousands of men, women and children.

    “Every corner of the Central Valley is affected by this environmentalist-caused drought. People are losing good jobs because left-wing enviros placed the needs of a fish over thousands of hardworking families,” says Richard Pombo (R-CA), the former Chair of the House Resources Committee.

    Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson agrees stating, “When Nancy Pelosi and her environmental henchmen chose a minnow over jobs and growing food to feed the world they went too far. When voters across the nation learn about this travesty, the tidal wave for changing Congressional leadership will overwhelm partisan considerations.”

    Americans for Limited Government will continue covering this story as it develops.

    Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to ALG News Bureau.

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