California Water Secretary Pays Visit To Valley

The man who helps to determine how much water valley growers are allocated each year paid a visit to Fresno.

California Secretary for Natural Resources' John Laird met with members of the California Latino Water Coalition.

Coalition members set up the meeting because they are concerned with the current predictions of yet another dry winter, and no new water storage facilities built.

Members say with even tighter pumping restrictions, the threat of farmers going out of business is real.

Latino Water Coalition Executive Director, Mario Santoyo says, "For the farmers who are struggling from year to year trying to get money from the bankers to agree to give them money, even though they can't guarantee water, it becomes more and more challenging. They can't wait 10 years, we need an action plan now. We recommendation that he put a task force together and find out who do we deal with that. I think Secretary heard our message."

Santoyo says it was not too long ago, Westside cities like Mendota, Kerman and Tranquility became filled with out of work farm laborers and the need for food lines became the norm.

However, Secretary Laird failed to promise anything, except that he's praying for a wet winter.

Secretary Laird says, "There are certain periodicals that we can follow to try and squeeze more water out of the system, even if it is at a minimal level."

However, Laird failed to give specifics.

He did say the state's water system, built over the last 200 years was constructed in a piece mill fashion. He says it was built by different projects, by different groups, under different rights and allocations.

Now he's just trying to make it all work.

As for building new water storage facilities, the Secretary says voters need to put the pressure on lawmakers.

Despite the speeches, it is still a dry year and growers still don't have enough water.

Some say there are no solid solutions in sight.

Secretary Laird did say he promises to state the coalitions concerned to Governor Jerry Brown.