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

State Department of Water Resources
Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River (file photo)

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

Joe Moore is the President and General Manager of Valley Public Radio. During his tenure, he's helped lead the station through major programming changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining the station's financial health. From 2010-2018 he served as the station's Director of Program Content. In that role, he also served as the host of Valley Edition, and helped launch and grow the station's award-winning local news department. He is a Fresno native and a graduate of California State University, Fresno.