Westside San Joaquin Valley farmers throwing South Delta farmers under the bus

At the State Water Resources Control hearing on San Joaquin River Flows as part of the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary (Bay-Delta) Program, Phase I, John Rubin, Senior Council for the San Luis Delta-Mendota Water Authority, made a presentation to the State Water Resources Control Board that was an all out attack on the future of farming for South Delta farmers.  Under consideration is a Substitute Environmental Document (SED) prepared by Water Board staff that calls for 35% unimpaired flows on the San Joaquin River, and a weakening of salinity and water quality standards in the South Delta from 0.7 e.c. to 1.0 e.c. (measurements of electrical conductivity used to measure salinity). 

This weakening of the standards, however, was not sufficient for San Luis Senior Council Jon Rubin.  The bulk of his presentation was predicated on how salinity in the South Delta could be raised to 1.2 or 1.4 e.c., with Delta farmers, according to his science sources, suffering small crop losses.

It certainly takes some gumption for Rubin, who represents several districts responsible for loading the San Joaquin River with salt, selenium, and boron and that are pushing for the construction of the peripheral tunnels so they can have the best in water quality and reliability, to expect South Delta farmers to be limited in crop choices and to experience losses in production levels. 

We believe that this is an alarm bell for all Delta and Northern California farmers.  If Westside growers are willing to sacrifice senior water rights holders and fellow farmers in the South Delta today, they will come for every other farmers’ water rights and ability to remain productive tomorrow.

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