Western Growers president urges reset on river flow discussion

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stanislaus river
Stanislaus River in Ripon.

IRVINE — Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif is urging Gov. Jerry Brown to reset efforts to update minimum flow standards for the Lower San Joaquin River.

In the letter Nassif sent Tuesday, Nassif said the State Water Resources Control Board had not engaged Western Growers’ members and other stakeholders.

“In its current form, the draft proposal invites court challenges by the Turlock, Modesto and Merced Irrigation Districts, puts the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act process in jeopardy, fails to address non-flow stressors (e.g. predation, invasive species) and abandons the ‘faster, less contentious, and more durable’ voluntary agreements you asked the Board and staff to implement in your September 2016 letter,” Nassif wrote.

Hundreds of people turned out for a series of public hearings throughout the northern Central Valley to give their input on the Board’s proposal to increase flows from the Stanislaus, Merced and Tuolumne rivers to 40 percent.

Farmers, in particular, are concerned such an increase would leave them without enough water for their crops.

The public comment period was supposed to end Jan. 17, but it has been extended to March 17.

The State Water Quality Board is expected to issue a decision in July.

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