The water rally that took place on the steps of the Capitol Building on Monday brought growers, farm workers, congressmen, and other community members together to voice their discontent with the State Water Resources Control Board’s proposed plan for water flowing through the Lower San Joaquin River and Southern Delta. Approximately 1,500 people attended the event, with many holding signs that read ‘Worth Your Fight’ and ‘Stop the State Water Grab.’
Many speakers highlighted issues such as the rising costs of energy combined with increasing levels of regulation are already putting significant pressure on the farming industry. A few speakers also noted the timing for requiring 40 percent of unimpaired flows in the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers is especially troubling with the ag industry also preparing for the constraints of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
“When it comes to unimpaired flows, the water board doesn’t want to be efficient. Instead they want to rely on hunches and assumptions that cannot guarantee any benefits to the environment, our farms, or our communities,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said during his address to the crowd. “Like many of you, I’d rather be on my farm taking care of my land wishing that Sacramento would take their foot off my neck. But there comes a time when you must stand up and say enough is enough. Today is that day.”
Listen to Johansson’s full comments.
The message heralded throughout the water rally was that the proposal to send more water out to the ocean is not strictly an agricultural issue. If the plan is put into effect it would also have an adverse impact on manufacturers, teachers, public safety professionals and business owners alike. “Water is the lifeblood that has built our communities and water rights are the foundation…everyone benefits from protecting our water,” Johansson noted.
The water board will begin hearings on the plan starting on Tuesday, however a final vote on the matter has been postponed to an unspecified date. Regardless of the outcome of the vote, many are expecting the decision to ultimately be tied up in court for several years due to lawsuits.