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by Ron Forbes

"If fishing is a religion, fly fishing is high church"
 Tom Brokaw

Poisoned food for profit

Delta Fly Fishers have a long history in the maintenance,
protection, and restoration of our fisheries. For the last several
years, the Conservation Report has included articles regarding
our loss of Delta waters to the south San Joaquin Valley’s
agribusiness interest and to the urban areas in Southern
California. We know the loss of water, needed for the Delta,
is one of the leading causes in the collapse of the Delta’s ecosystem
including the collapse of its fisheries. And now we are
faced with another major problem facing the Delta and the
State’s eco-system. That problem is our State’s agriculture and
its unmonitored use of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers.
The State’s Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB)
has laws that require urban areas, business, and industry
to monitor their water discharges and they are required to
comply with State standards for clean water.

However, in California, we farm 7 million acres of land which
enjoys a total exemption from California’s Clean Water Act.
For over thirty years, farms have been exempted from having
to comply with regulations because of the strong political clout
agriculture coalitions have on our legislature. This political
clout allows what has been the identified as the largest toxic
polluter of the Delta and Central Valley to continue their
operations. This source of toxins continues to be unchecked
by the State. In a five year period (2002-2007) the State has
found over 300 sites that dump massive amounts of pollution
and toxins in our waterways. This pollution exceeds the State
standards in the Clean Water Act yet it continues year after
year. And nothing has been done to correct this pollution.
Today over 150,000 people’s, living in the south Central Valley;
source of drinking water has been declared undrinkable and
unusable for human hygiene. They must transport all their
water for drinking and bathing. Two sessions ago, there was a
bill that was passed by both houses that would have corrected
this problem. But our former governor vetoed the bill because
Westlands opposed its passage. We must end agriculture’s
exclusion from our State’s Clean Water Act, or as California
Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) says, “Our fish will
continue to live and reproduce in toxic soup.”

Farmland run-off has been identified as the largest single source
of pollution in the Delta, Central Valley, and their ground
waters. Since 1982, agribusiness has enjoyed the exemption of
their production of toxins and pollution from any regulation.
And again, the State is now considering yet another three year
exemption for the farms from the California Water Quality
Act. And this policy will be in place by the end of this year
unless we speak out. The public’s chance to oppose continuing
this exemption will be at a public meeting early this April. The
meeting will be:

Date: April 7, 2011
Time: 8:30AM Watch CSPA’s excellent video on farm
pollution: calsport.org
Central Valley Water Board Office
11020 Sun Center Drive, Suite 200
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

Both Steve Johnson and I will attend the RWQCB meeting
in Rancho Cordova to protest the extension of the farmer’s
exclusion from the Clean Water Act. We have added Delta
Fly Fisher’s logo along with other fishing group’s logos who
oppose this exclusion. Bill Jennings, the executive director of
CSPA, will present our side of the issue before the RWQCB and
present the logos of all fishing groups opposing the Regional
Board’s continuing their current policy. To correct our toxic
surface and groundwater, CSPA is proposing the Regional
Board make the following changes:
• Eliminate third party coalitions and require individual
discharger’s submit reports to the Regional Board
identifying the location and content of both surface and
• Monitor discharges to surface and groundwater and the
effectiveness measures implemented to reduce pollution.
• Require all farm discharger’s to prepare individual farm
water quality management plans implemented to reduce
pollution. These plans must be made available to the
Regional Board and the public.
• Require compliance with water quality standards in the
• Demonstrate consistency with the State’s non-point source
and antidegradation policies

The worse toxic water polluters in the Central Valley and the
Delta have been given free rein to continue their pollution since
1982. As the CSPA video says, “It’s time to stop the fox from
guarding the hen house. It’s time we put a stop this on-going
environmental atrocity”.




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