Federal Judge Attends Madera Water Conference
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- One week after rejecting a request to keep irrigation water moving south from Delta pumps, Federal Court Judge Oliver Wanger faced some of his biggest critics - farmers.
Judge Wanger was greeted with polite applause at a Madera Farm Bureau water conference. His speech won over some unlikely supporters.
Wanger asked the group, "If this is your existence how can a fish or an environmental interest balance against human health?"
Oliver Wanger spoke in Madera not as a federal judge but as a private citizen.
He explained to farmers how the Endangered Species Act and biological opinions determine his rulings on whether Delta pumps can operate.
Wanger said, "The evidence, the science was incontrovertible. In fact, when the cases were tried in my court everybody admitted and agreed that the smelt was in danger."
Judge Wanger said the water issue can't be solved in his courtroom. The problem, he explained, lies with the government. Wanger said, "There's only one place the problem can be solved and congress can't even agree on when they're in session and when they're not."
Judge Wanger's explanation he is bound by the law struck a chord with many who disapprove of his rulings.
Farm labor contractor Piedad Ayala said, "Even though our community was really depressed and really mad and upset with him, we started to see where the real problem is today."
Wanger told those in attendance, "We can't write the law. We can't re-write the law. We can only follow the law."
Outside the forum, Congressman Devin Nunes said he'll soon introduce the California Water Reliability Act.
Nunes said, "It creates a waiver for the pumps to run until a bypass is built. It will waive federal regulations so that Temperance Flat and other water projects can be built."
Nunes would also like to re-write the San Joaquin River settlement.
Judge Wanger calls the water problems "complex beyond belief."
Some farmers said they were surprised to hear how open he was about the issues.
california water, agriculture, madera, ag watch, dale yurong
- Woman dies in NE Fresno officer-involved shooting
- Parlier man shot and killed; neighbor arrested
- China-bound Malaysian jet vanishes with 239 aboard
- Crews battle large fire at Fresno County warehouse
- Man dies after being hit by train in Downtown Fresno
- Report: Ukraine base in Crimea under siege
- Man who inspired Three Strikes law may be sentenced under it
- Fresno PD: Man sitting in street struck, killed by car
- Unemployment figures: Slight economic improvement
- California jury deadlocks in ex-NFL player's death
- Near drownings on the rise
- Students take part in robot competition in Madera
- SubCom companies thinking inside the box
- CIF Central Section Basketball Finals
Most Viewed StoriesMost Viewed Photos