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Scott and Shasta water issues will affect all of California


Farm Bureau alerts members - statewide


By Liz Bowen, Pioneer Press Assistant Editor, Fort Jones, California
May 10, 2006, Vol. 33, No. 26, Page A1, column 1


SACRAMENTO - On May 5, 2006, the California Farm Bureau Federation sent out a Farm Team Action Alert, asking for support for Scott and Shasta Valleys at the very top of the state. This organization is the largest agricultural group in the state. The Action Alert recognizes that the Scott and Shasta water issues will set a precedence statewide.

Water rights on the Scott and Shasta Rivers are under attack by a state agency through an environmental program called Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, Action Plan.

Recently, the State Water Resources Control Board has proposed to adjust water rights in order to solve water quality conflicts in the Scott and Shasta Rivers. The Control Board is in charge of water quality regarding pollution, but is expanding its jurisdiction to also create more water for fish.

New regulations are proposed for implementation through the TMDL Action Plans, which would allow the Control Board to limit agriculture’s access to water in favor of increasing river flow to protect fish habitat.

“If the Board decides to attack farmers' and ranchers' water rights in this manner, it would be a major blow to the civil rights and economic viability of farming communities all over the state,” said the state Action Alert.

Bill Eiler, president of Siskiyou Farm Bureau, said that the legal staff at the state level has been researching the legalities of the proposals by the Control Board.

Apparently, “the state is obligated to establish the TMDL rules,” said Eiler, “but the Control Board is under no obligated to take action on water rights.”

The Control Board regulates the federal Clean Water Act at the state level.

Both Eiler and the California Farm Bureau believe the Scott and Shasta TMDL Action Plans have been targeted.

A ruling against water rights in the Scott Valley watershed will set precedent for other bodies of water across the state, including but not limited to the San Joaquin River, the Russian River and the Salton Sea, according to the Action Alert.

Comments on the Scott River TMDL Action Plan must reach the State Water Resources Control Board by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10.

“You don’t have to be a member of Farm Bureau to join the Farm Team or to make a comment,” said Eiler, who explains that the Action Alert is sent out through email.

To join Farm Team, go to www . cfbf.com on the internet and click on Farm Team. After joining, you can click on a link to send your comments to the Control Board. Action Alerts will be sent to those who have joined.

Eiler added that the threats against agricultural water are very real and through the Action Alerts individuals can help stop those threats of legislation or regulations.




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