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Thousands expected to march for water in California

Cecilia Parsons, Capital Press 4/10/09

Farmers and farm workers will walk side-by-side to bring attention to the economic impacts of water supply cut-offs on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The April 14-17 March for Water, announced weeks ago, has snowballed into an event that is expected to include thousands of farm workers, farmers and business owners as well as national media, celebrities and politicians.

The aim is to show the impact on people from the shut-off of pumps that deliver water to Central Valley farms. Actor Paul Rodriguez, who is part of the California Latino Water Coalition, will lead the march. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is expected to attend a rally on the final day and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may also attend.

Rodriguez said the four-day demonstration would draw attention to the effects of the drought and zero water deliveries to west side farms.

Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson said that unemployment in some communities is approaching 50 percent.

Bringing about a reliable water supply and improving water quality for all Californians is the main goal. To make that happen, organizers said the Endangered Species Act should be suspended, allowing water to flow to farms. They are also asking legislators to agree on a comprehensive water plan and federal funds for water infrastructure projects.

The 50-mile trek from the west-side farmworker community of Mendota to the San Luis Reservoir will begin with a rally at 8 a.m. Tuesday. The march continues north Wednesday and Thursday and concludes at the San Luis Reservoir on Friday.

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