25 bus-loads of farm-workers pulled up at the Capitol around lunch-time. They came from towns in the Valley that rely heavily on agriculture. Richard Moon is a cotton gin superintendent in Fresno. He says it was important to be here:
“There’s been a lot of cutbacks and the farmers are really worried. I’m not a farmer, I don’t have any ground, but I work for a farmer and everyone is really scared about the water.”
Water equals jobs for many in the Valley. And the lack of it has left some farmers with dry, empty fields. The State Department of Food and Agriculture estimates 245 million dollars in lost crops already this year.
“Heck no, we won’t go…we need H20.”
The event was organized by the Latino Water Coalition. The group supports a joint proposal by Governor Schwarzenegger and U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein to put a nine billion dollar water bond on the November ballot. Much of that money could go to water storage – and the Governor has indicated that must include dams. He told the cheering crowds he was committed to expanding the water supply statewide:
“I guarantee you, I will never sign a bill that does not take care of northern California, that doesn’t take care of Central Ca and the Central valley – and that doesn’t take care of Southern California.”
Steven Evans is with Friends of the River – a statewide conservation group. He says dams are not the answer:
“They cost billions of dollars. They’ll cost billions more in debt payments for over 30 years and they really don’t produce that much water. If these dams existed today they wouldn’t’ be full of water because we’ve had a drought.”
Evans – as well as some Democrats – have pushed for more conservation instead. Lawmakers have indicated they’ll need to act by early August to get something on the November ballot.