Fish or farms? A new battle rages over California water

As reported by the Fresno Bee:

Fish or farms?

The House this week will tackle the question, which for years has triggered a tug-of-war between growers and environmentalists. It plans to vote on a Republican-authored plan aimed at sending more of northern California’s water to the Central Valley farmers who say they badly need it.

But California’s two U.S. senators, both Democrats, vow to block the bill in that chamber, saying it would bypass environmental safeguards and override state law. Gov. Jerry Brown also opposes the bill.

The bill, said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., in an interview, “does not strike the right balance because there’s no reason that we have to accept a false choice and somehow weaken the Endangered Species Act in order to be smarter with water policy.”

In the middle of this political brawl are growers who have have long felt that the state’s water policies prioritize fish over farms. Surplus water is allowed to flow out into the Pacific Ocean in order to protect the ecosystems of fish like salmon and steelhead. They want it flowing to their land instead. …

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