Judge Rules in Favor of Farmers

Fresno,CA - For the past couple of years, we here in the valley have faced massive water cutbacks, because of biological opinions that said the delta pumps harmed fish species.

Now a federal judge says those opinions were based on bad science.

Tuesday, Judge Oliver Wanger ruled the human environment is important enough to protect, as well.

"Many of us have been saying for years now, having 40% unemployment and millions of people standing in food lines had to count for something, and I think the judge substantiated that, and has slapped the hand of the federal government down for failing to follow the law," said Mark Borba, president of Borba Farms.

In his ruling, Judge Wanger decided federal agencies did not consider the impact of their actions on the human environment.{} {}And used flawed science in justifying drastic restrictions to pumping water from the delta.

In fact, a new study out of the University of Maryland points to wastewater pollution as the problem, not pumps.

"That study suggested that the discharge of those nutrients had a far greater impact on the delta smelt than the operation of the two projects," said Tim Birmingham with the Westlands Water District.

Even though the judge's ruling could bring more water here to the Valley, growers say it's still too early to tell if and when fallow fields will be brought{} back to life.

"As far as additional crops being planted at this point, that won't happen, the planting season is already over," said Borba.

It remains to be seen when and how much water will start being pumped toward the valley again.

Although it's too late to plant new crops this year, it could mean good news for the next planting season, which begins in the fall.

Tuesday's ruling concerns federal protection plans for salmon.

The Westlands Water District has filed another restraining order to stop the protection plan for the delta smelt, which is still working its way through the legal process.

A hearing in federal court Wednesday morning will discuss how much more water can be pumped from the delta, without hurting fish species.