Water Letter from WILPF

Water Letter from WILPF

1 O. Box 5114

Fresno, CA.,


June 17, 2016


The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Fresno branch, agrees that protecting and securing a reliable water supply in the San Joaquin Valley is the most important issue facing us.

In connection with this goal, we urge you to take another look at the feasibility of building the proposed Temperance Flat Dam.

US Bureau of Reclamation statement draft feasibility report and environmental impact report indicates that the Temperance Flat Dam would have a capacity to store 1.33 million acre feet of water at an estimated building cost of 2.6 billion dollars. Realistically, it is projected to yield only 70,000 acre feet annually and a mere 21,000 feet in a dry or critical year. Adding to the 2.6 billion-dollar cost is additional environmental mitigation costs, yet unknown. This solution does not appear to be a favorable cost/benefit ratio to justify the use of taxpayer funds.

As an alternative, we recommend that you consider other possible solutions. HR 2983, Drought Recovery and Resilience Act of 2015 by Rep. Jared Huffman, focuses investments on wastewater recycling, storm water treatment, groundwater recharge, desalination and improving dam operations with updated weather forecasting. These proposals actually create “new” water by recycling and reusing what we already have.

Huffman’s long term solutions respect environmental and water quality laws, with every region in California impacted by the drought being considered and benefiting from these solutions. Senator Feinstein’s Energy bill (SB2533) also supports some of these measures.


San Luis Unit Drainage Resolution Act (HR5217 & HR4366)

We have questions & concerns about several of the provisions of this Act. (Was this settlement reached behind closed doors?)

The Hoopa Valley Tribe maintains that their primary rights were ignored in the negotiations of this agreement. The Tribe has first right of use of Trinity River water (under the 1955 federal stature that authorized the Trinity River Division of the CVP.) However, the San Luis Unit Settlement Agreement ignores this priority right held by the Tribe.  Instead, the United States has focused its energy on escaping federal liability for the many years of existing drainage problems.

The provision that requires Westlands District to manage drainage water within its boundaries in accordance with federal and California law needs much more transparency. What specifically will Westlands do to solve their drainage problem? Has this solution worked in the past? The threat that the Department of the Interior could cease water deliveries to Westlands if it fails to solve the drainage problem is a vague threat, which could result in many possible court delays.

How much of the 100,000 acres in Westlands have already been retired to date? Should more acreage be retired in order to solve the drainage problems permanently? In the recent Congressional hearings (5/24/2016), it was suggested that acreage of at least 195,000 acres be retired. And, also suggested was that Westlands receive zero water for the retired acreage.  (leaving no excess water to sell at a profit)

What is the value of the Federal facilities that Westlands is to receive? Will Westlands have access to higher water rights as a result of this repayment agreement? Again, more transparency needed here.

This topic has many facets making it difficult at times to comprehend. However, as taxpayers, our goal is to see more transparency and especially no “Enron accounting” used in the final negotiation of this Settlement Agreement.

Please keep us informed as progress is made in securing a reliable water supply for ALL users in California, including the Central Valley.


Jean Hays and Betty Sempadian, co-chairs

Legislative Committee

WILPF Fresno Branch


Patty Bennett                                 Ann Carruthers

Melissa Fry                                    Ellie Bluestein

Bev Fitzpatrick                              Mary Perich

Leni Reeves                                  Joyce Kauder


  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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