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Spring 2009

Water Crisis Draws Big Crowd

With standing room only and nearly 300 people in attendance the water forum focusing on California Water Crisis, held at the Colusa Farm Show and hosted by Family Water Alliance, discussed the real water crisis California faces.

“With a great panel of water leaders before you today, I hope that you become aware of the legacy that we may all be a part of, if competing interests for California’s water do not come to an agreement and start to solve the problem”, said Ashley Indrieri, executive director of Family Water Alliance.

Dan Keppen from Family Farm Alliance spoke of the devastation caused to the Klamath Basin when water was shut off to the community due to the Endangered Species Act. “The socioeconomic disaster is real and the same tragedy may become real in other parts of the state”, said Keppen.

The water panel featured five speakers including Dan Keppen, of Family Farm Alliance; Mike Wade of California Farm Water Coalition; Jason Peliter of Westlands Water District; John Cain of Natural Heritage Institute; and Jeff Sutton of Tehama Colusa Canal Authority.

Jeff Sutton, TCCA General Manager, addresses the audience at the water forum held in February.Each panelist discussed the critical tipping point the state faces as water supply cutbacks and state and federal regulations make it more and more difficult for farmers to have a reliable supply of water for their crops.

“California’s agricultural industry brings $36 billion to our economy, but that industry, relies almost solely on water from the federal Central Valley Water Project and the State Water Project, which are both in jeopardy because of new regulations”, said Indrieri.

“Tehama Colusa Canal Authority (TCCA) irrigates over 150,000 acres in the Sacramento Valley and the fate of our water supply is in the hands of a judge. TCCA brings over $1 billion dollars to our local economies”, said Sutton. California is facing significant water shortages with record low rainfall totals for two consecutive years. This may be the worst drought California has faced since the 1970’s.

In June 2008, the Governor issued an executive order declaring a statewide drought, which directed his state agencies and departments to take immediate action to address the serious drought conditions and water delivery reductions that exist in California. He also issued a Central Valley State of Emergency Proclamation for nine Central Valley counties (Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern) to address urgent water needs. ■

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