By Joan Rutschow
The over regulation of farmers by the State Water Resources Control Board will have a devasting effect on farmlands, agriculture income, and jobs.
The recent proposal by the WRCB to release 35% of the unimpaired flow on the Stanislaus, Merced, and Tuolumne Rivers
will have the following estimated and unacceptable outcomes:
1. Fallowing as many as 220,000 acres of farmland.
2. Loss of $187 Million in ag income and using a 7x economic multiplier according to the Modesto Chamber of Commerce equates in their estimate to $1.3 Billion. But it is MUCH WORSE: 220,000 acres of permanent crops which is what will have to be abandoned. An average 5,000 lbs. at $2.50 per lb. equals gross farm-gate value times the economic multiplier of 7x equals $87,000 of economic benefit to those ag communities. Apply this to 220,000 acres and it is a very big economic hit of $19.2 Billion that we currently HAVE and will LOSE.
3. Unfortunately, the WRCB is willing to sacrifice our agricultural livelihood and destroy our entire community. All for the purpose of providing striped bass with exorbitantly priced salmon for every meal.
I personally attended the Don Pedro re-licensing meeting at Modesto Irrigation Headquarters on January 30 and 31st, 2013. We were told by the meeting attendees that 93% of the young salmon in the rivers were killed by PREDATORS – mainly large mouth bass! HUMAN NEEDS MUST COME FIRST! Farmers MUST be allowed adequate water to provide food and fiber as needed by our growing population. With our present drier water pattern, water is more important than ever! There is NO GUARANTEE that the proposed release of 35% of the unimpaired flow of the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced Rivers would significantly save the salmon population, but would definitely GREATLY HARM FARMLANDS (FOOD PRODUCTION!), agriculture income and jobs!