Local Leaders Take Part in DC Water Talks

By Norma Yuriar

Fresno, Calif.{} (KMPH News){} - Nearly two week's after Fox News Host Sean Hannity shined the national spot light on the valley's water crisis, water activists are taking their efforts one step further.

Some of the same people that spoke vividly about the lack of work and fallowed fields will be meeting with the top government officials in Washington on Wednesday.

Fresno Democratic Congressman Jim Costa is among them, he boarded a plane at Fresno Yosemite International Monday morning.

"Everything possible we need to do to bring water to this valley next summer so we don't have additional fallowing of crops on the Westside or any side of the valley," Costa said.

Severe drought conditions and water cutbacks to protect an endangered fish are contributing to the water shortage, farmers said.

Costa will be joining the Latino Water Coalition and other water activists during a scheduled meeting with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar later this week.

"We want to really impress upon Sec. Salazar, the crisis that we are facing here," Costa said.

But, his call may go unanswered, the U.S. Department of Interior has already said there is little they can do right now, to ease the valley's water shortage.

This in response to Hannity's live broadcast from Huron on September 17th calling on President Obama to do something about it.

"Mr. President, turn the water on now," Hannity said.

Interior Secretary Salazar, issued a so-called 'reality check' to the conservative host.

"The pumps are on.{} The temporary pumping restrictions that were required under the Endangered Species Act ended on June 30th.{} The state is in its third year of severe drought, caused by below average precipitation and significantly lower run-off in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta.{} As a result, one-third less water is available," Salazar said.

Costa said the talks will center on the economic impact of the drought and possible solutions, both short and long term.

"Unfortunately the regulatory drought coupled with another dry year could mean devastation for not just the Westside but the Eastside as well," Costa said.{} "We need to provide some hope in case we are faced with such conditions next year."