Water – and who controls it – is the 800-pound gorilla that defines and drives virtually all western state politics. One of the most bitter disputes in the eternal struggle between those who would use it and those who would save it is centered in California’s Sacramento River Delta where a rare increase in this year’s salmon run is reigniting the “farmers versus fish” debate
From this story in the San Francisco Chronicle:
On Thursday, a group of environmentalists, fishing groups and scientists said this year’s salmon run – the first relatively healthy season in several years – is made possible by restrictions on the amount of water pumped through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta between 2008 and 2010. “For the first time in a long time we’re going to have a salmon season and that’s due in large part because we’ve put in place salmon protections that seem to be working,” said Cynthia Koehler, California water legislative director with Environmental Defense Fund.
_On the other side of the fence, however, advocates of the farming industry contend the curtailed water exports have done little besides put thousands of farmhands out of work and slash the number of acres planted. Instead, they blame pollution, overfishing and invasive species for the collapse of the fishery three years ago. “For years, the left has used the environment as an excuse to take more and more of this precious resource away from the people,” said Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Alpaugh (Tulare County). “It is time for Congress to give it back so that our economy, our farms and our rural communities can thrive.”