8 May 2009

Water Chats -- Firebaugh and Westlands

After I spoke with Cannon and Phil, I had talks with two people facing much harsher circumstances.

My first talk [12 min; 4MB MP3] was with Jose Antonio Ramirez, city manager of Firebaugh, California. Firebaugh is ground zero for suffering the cutbacks in water deliveries from the Delta. The town (pop. 7,000) is on the verge of collapse: 40% unemployment, 30% fall in sales taxes, etc. Ramirez just wants water deliveries to start again.

My second talk [39 min; 13MB MP3] is with Shawn Coburn, a dynamic guy with farms in different areas -- thus water in different jurisdictions and forms (dry farming, exchange contractor, riparian rights, groundwater, CVP BurRec water). He's juggling many balls: trying to stay in business, trying to get the pumps turned back on, trying to hold his community (with Ramirez) together.

Coburn makes a good point regarding the crash of the Smelt in the Delta: It's not just water exports that have affected the Delta ecology -- Sacramento's ammonium discharges and invasive species have had SOME impact. I agree with him.

Bottom Line: These talks give you a good idea of how people facing water cutbacks (from political and environmental constraints) are trying to cope. I daresay that water markets could only make things better for them!

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