Farmers and Fisherman want to compromise
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Valley farmers and Northern California fishermen took a new approach to try to end their fight over water. A federal judge ruled in favor of farmers, allowing more water to be pumped from the San Joaquin Delta despite threatened salmon. He's now preparing to rule on another injunction on the threatened Delta Smelt.
The surprise was not what the judge decided -- but rather what he didn't decide. Farmers and fisherman asked Judge Oliver Wanger to work things out privately. It's interesting because the two sides just finished a rigorous battle over water use with threatened salmon. But they say they're going to give the Delta Smelt a shot.
Jim Simonian is a fruit grower in the Westlands Water District. The recent news of increased water pumping by a federal judge leaves him cautiously optimistic about the future of his peach trees. He says in the past the relationship between farmers and fisherman have been one sided.
"We all have to work together, but it seems as though the farming community especially in the Westlands Water District at least from this farmer's perspective has gotten the short end of the stick," said Simonian.
But the recent ruling on salmon and the pending ruling on the delta smelt is leaving fishing groups feeling like they're the ones who are getting the short end of the stick.
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association, Zeke Grader said, "Some people decide to wield their political might in both congress or the court, simply thinking that they can keep taking more and more water from the delta as long as there's a drop flowing into the pacific they think it belongs to them."
Grader did admit that he too is hopeful both sides can come to a compromise. Meanwhile Valley Congressman Jim Costa -- a staunch supporter for farmers and more water says momentum is finally on their side.
"So I think we're going to see a much different attitude in terms of how we operate the projects and how that bodes for the next water year," said Costa.
If there isn't a compromise between the two sides -- Judge Wanger says the court will most likely hold a hearing regarding the Delta Smelt sometime late next week.
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