Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Two Perspectives: California Plan Would Shift Water Away From Farms And Cities, And Back To Rivers

Jul 31, 2018

For years, farmers in the southern San Joaquin Valley have been struggling with reduced water deliveries. The problem – as they see it – has been reduced pumping out of the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta, restrictions in place to help the fragile ecosystem there recover. But species in the Delta and the rivers that feed it are still declining.

Now the state is updating its plan, and it could mean big changes for both farmers and cities. Under the proposal from the California Water Resources Control Board, water users who divert flow from the San Joaquin and its tributaries upstream from the delta would find their water supply reduced. Currently only about 20 percent of the river's natural flow makes it through the system. If adopted, the new proposal would increase those number to between 30 to 50 percent of natural flow. While the proposal has spurred talk of habitat restoration deals that could lessen the impact to water users, it's also sparked opposition from both farmers and urban water districts. To learn more about the plan, we spoke with two experts from different backgrounds:

  • Felicia Marcus, chair of the Water Resources Control Board
  • Cannon Michael, president of Bowles Farming in Los Banos and chair of the San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Authority