CENTRAL VALLEY - A hearing in Merced addressing the Water Board's plan to redirect water from storage to the San Francisco Bay Delta is being met with resistance from local government and Merced residents. Many say the plan would be a death sentence for the local economy, increase the need for ground water pumping, and decrease the quantity and quality of drinking water
"In Merced County I think we have twice the state average of unemployment we have upwards of 26 percent in poverty level", said Anthony Cannella who represents the 12th Senate District. Cannellla goes on to say that the Water Board's plan known as SED will not help Salmon population like they say it will. City of Merced Mayor Mike Murphy agrees, "There is a recognition that it's not just farmers that are going to suffer, but we are all going to suffer if this proposed plan goes through as lobbied. We are here in support of solutions".
The Merced Irrigation District has responded to the Water Board with a plan of their own. Under the MID plan known as S.A.F.E. River flows would increase during certain times of the year to support salmon migration, increase salmon production at the Merced River Hatchery, restore more than 5 miles of habitat, and remove bass. A better solution says president of the Merced Irrigation District, David Long, "They think that just putting more water down the river is going to help the salmon and it won't. They need to restore habitat, but adding water to the river right now actually reduces spawning".
Local leaders say they are prepared to fight this plan even if it means taking it to state legislators.