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California coalition suing U.S. over water restrictions

Friday, March 13, 2009

A coalition of California farmers is suing the U.S. over water restrictions.
A coalition of California farmers is suing the U.S. over water restrictions.

A coalition of California groups including farmers and other water users is suing the federal government over regulatory restrictions on water operations they say are devastating to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley.

The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta and the Kern County Water Agency (KCWA) claim in their lawsuit that water supply restrictions designed to protect the Delta smelt, a federally protected endangered species, have greatly reduced water supplies for millions of acres of productive farmland.

"Farmers are facing the loss of crops and fallowed fields," said Michael Boccadoro, a spokesperson for the coalition. "Additionally, tens of thousands of farm workers have lost their jobs because federal agencies have not done what they are required to do. People are suffering because federal agencies are not doing their job and addressing the real issues."

The lawsuit claims that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies have failed to assess the impact of other stress factors on the fish. "The Delta smelt face wide ranging threats from contaminants to dredging activities," said Adrienne J. Mathews of KCWA. "We have no choice but to sue the federal regulators to get them to address these other factors."

The KCWA, established in 1961, manages the valley's water quality, flood control and groundwater operations.
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