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State dragging feet on crucial water transfer to help keep crops alive

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POSTED July 9, 2009 2:41 a.m.
The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority that serves 2.1 million acres is in a world of hurt due to lack of water.

The South San Joaquin Irrigation District wants to help by selling them 25,000 acre feet of water that district farmers have helped them conserve through prudent water practices.

The only problem is the State of California is holding up the transaction.

It was less than three months that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide emergency due to a third year of drought and called upon Californians to help others by conserving and sharing water.

The SSJID board is frustrated since it has been more than two weeks since they’ve asked for state approval of the water transfer.  Not only did Schwarzenegger promise nimble responses to such transfers by appointing a water czar, but the board which is comprised primarily of farmers understands how dire the situation is for the growers and workers dependent on ag production elsewhere in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

The authority represents a number of water agencies serving 2.1 million acres of farmland in the western San Joaquin Valley as well as San Benito and Santa Clara counties. The Delta-Mendota Canal delivers about 3 million acre feet of water within the authority’s service area. Those deliveries are being slashed by as much as 85 percent this year.

As a result, many farmers have plowed under crops and pulled out orchards. Water is critical for those who kept crops in the ground to make sure they survive to the point crops can be harvested.

Estimates from University of California Davis economists have indicated up to 80,000 jobs and upwards of $2.2 billion will disappear from the San Joaquin Valley alone due to reduced water supplies.
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