Farmers and their allies packed a Modesto boardroom Tuesday night and laid into a state plan to boost river flows.
They told the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors that the proposal would put thousands of people out of work and force farmers to increase well pumping.
“Clearly, this is a draconian environmental water grab,” said Bill Berryhill, a wine grape grower and former state assemblyman in the Ceres area.
The State Water Resources Control Board proposes to roughly double reservoir releases on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers from February to June each year. The flows would help salmon and other fish and reduce salinity in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, said Les Grober, deputy director for water rights.
He was the only speaker in favor of the plan, and he acknowledged the concerns of the opponents.
“I know this crowd gets it and this (county) board gets it — this is a tough proposal,” Grober said.
The Merced County Board of Supervisors held its own lively meeting on the proposal Tuesday afternoon. The state board is taking comment until Jan. 17 and could take a final vote in July 2017.
We will have more on this story Wednesday.
John Holland: 209-578-2385