Newsom’s deal balances public, farmer and green water needs

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When it comes to water, balancing the competing interests of farmers, environmentalists, and California residents is an extremely difficult challenge.

That’s why it was a pleasant surprise to learn on Tuesday that after six years of negotiations involving state and federal agencies, the agricultural industry and major water districts, Governor Gavin Newsom had secured agreement on a $2.9 billion plan to improve the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. It is the ecosystem hub of the Golden State, providing fresh water to two-thirds of the state’s population and millions of acres of agricultural land.

With this agreement, state and federal governments and water agencies reached an unprecedented agreement to pay rice farmers to not use approximately 35,000 acres of rice fields, or 6% of the total normal crop. . This means that up to 824,000 additional feet of water will flow through the delta each year, limiting the effects of drought and improving conditions for chinook salmon and dozens of other fish species found there.

It is still possible that the agreement falls through. The Associated Press reported that the Natural Resources Defense Council is considering litigation after quickly exposing the plan as an attack on fish and wildlife. But Newsom realizes how much the Central Valley depends on agriculture to avoid becoming a depression. dust bowl — and how much the world rests in the Central Valley for fruits and vegetables. Newsom strikes a responsible balance.