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One family, two sides of the irrigation district

by JILL AHO Herald and News 7/27/09

Dominic Giordano’s 230 acres are on both sides of the Langell Valley Irrigation District, and his parents’ place is entirely on the west side.

While there are still quite a few weeks worth of water deliveries left in Clear Lake, which provides irrigation water to the western half of the Langell Valley, water evaporates during summer. Irrigation deliveries from Clear Lake were terminated July 7.

“They’re keeping water in there to keep the lake level for the endangered sucker fish,” Giordano said. “By the end of summer there will be enough water for the fish.”

Giordano’s parents, Mario and Diana, got one full alfalfa cutting and part of a second from their 400 acres, he said.

“It’s a third of what it should have been and that’s probably all they’re going to get for the season, he said. “I’m hoping to get three cuttings on my place if at all possible. Our income is going to be half of what it should have been.”

Those getting water from Clear Lake irrigated once, when they normally would have irrigated two or three times, Giordano said.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me when there’s not a need to keep water in the lake. We brought the lake down lower before, and the fish survived just fine,” he said. “The people in charge, they have an agenda it seems like, and that’s what they’re doing. They want control over all this water for I don’t know what reason, but they want control of it all.”

Side Bar

Fish and Wildlife Service requirements

Kevin Moore, a spokesman with the Bureau of Reclamation, said the Bureau estimated 40 irrigators would be affected by the July 7 shutoff.

"The action was necessary to ensure Reclamation meets the legal requirements of the 2008 Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinion and avoid jeopardizing the two (Endangered Species Act) listed suckers that call the lake home," Moore said. "Levels lower than those specified in the opinion could sever the fish's ability to access their spawning areas and hamper their ability to reproduce."

Moore said the Bureau of Reclamation target for Clear Lake is 4,520.6 feet above sea level a the end of September.

Last week the Bureau of Reclamation reported Clear Lake's surface elevation was 4,522.07, down 3.75 feet from a year ago.

Irrigation water from Clear Lake was cut off at the end of the 2005 irrigation season, Moore said. This year, Langell Valley Irrigation District was informed in early April that the deliveries from Clear Lake would be about half of the average annual use, he said.

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