Letters for the Week of February 26 

Readers sound off on the East Bay housing market, farming in San Joaquin Valley, and fracking.

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Farmers apply water to their fields according to the most efficient technology available. As a result, over the years the amount of applied water has declined while crop production has nearly doubled. It is the consumers who benefit from these improved practices. Without the financial return from such high value crops as almonds, farmers would not have the resources to invest in their land and continue to provide for the consumer.

Today, farmers like me in the Westlands Water District are prohibited from allowing any drain water to escape our farms. Because many of us have installed drip irrigation systems on our farms, there is little drainage water to capture. The improved efficiency of our irrigation systems results in increased harvests and improved safeguards to the environment.

Another criticism levied at Westside farmers in the article was the alleged subsidies farmers receive with their water. When the federal government decided to construct the Central Valley Project, efforts were undertaken to secure signees who would agree to purchase the water and repay the construction costs. These signees became the local water districts who deliver water to farmers who grow our food. These contracts require full repayment of the construction costs according to the amount of water delivered. Other costs that are fully paid by the contractors are for operation and maintenance of the project. Congress made the decision that the only cost that would not be repaid would be the accrued interest, which, as it turns out, was a wise decision by our lawmakers when one considers the dollar volume generated from the farms in the form of taxes.

Westside farmers and others throughout California have supported a seven-year-long effort to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta's ecosystem and at the same time provide a reliable water supply to nearly 4,000 farms and two-thirds of our state's citizens. Scientists, biologists, and engineers have worked on this project that is called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. No one disagrees that the delta is in need of help, and this plan is the best opportunity to provide that help. Critics of the plan are narrow-minded and fail to see the positive results that will stretch throughout our state. They are grasping at straws and making false accusations to detract from the plan.

One of the benefits from the plan is the increased protection it provides to juvenile salmon, Delta smelt, and other fish by restoring wetlands habitat and reducing the amount of water pulled from the delta by the pumps. These pumps at the south end of the delta have been targeted for years as the reason that fish populations have declined — not so! Take a close look at the stressors that affect delta fish and you'll find that predators and other fish have a voracious appetite for young salmon and smelt. Poor water quality in the delta is another major cause of the fishery decline. I wonder how many people know that the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District dumps tons of ammonia each day into the water that flows into the delta. When one steps back and looks at the facts, then a true understanding emerges of how little the pumps impact the delta fishery.

If California is going to prosper as it moves forward, it will need all of us working together. Farming has been an important part of our history and it will continue in that role as water is made available to grow the food that we all rely upon.

Dan Errotabere, Riverdale


"Alameda County Blazed Trail for Obamacare," News, 2/5

Hats Off to Alameda County

And the GOP said, "It's too hard Mommy. It won't work." Hats off to Alameda County who showed it can be done, and did it. Congratulations to everyone who contributed to this outstanding effort.

Steve Redmond, Berkeley


"Oakland Cops Think City Is Too Liberal," News, 1/29

Cops Don't Live in the Community

Gross incompetence and cluelessness has nothing to do with liberal or conservative. Also, most OPD cops don't even live in the community. That isn't a pre-requisite, but it's notable.

Also notable is that Chief [Anthony] Batts was pretty much driven away by the mayor — how on Earth she's standing for re-election, I have no idea.

Conan Neutron, Oakland


Miscellaneous

Ban Fracking

I grew up in New England, and as a child I was lucky enough to visit California. The state's pristine beaches and wide blue sky captivated my imagination. I knew then that California was the land where I'd make my future.

As a UC Berkeley student and member of the statewide Students Against Fracking coalition, I am deeply concerned about fracking and its effects on the places that make the Golden State so meaningful.

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is a dirty and dangerous method of oil and gas extraction that involves injecting millions of gallons of highly pressurized water, sand, and toxic chemicals — including known carcinogens — deep into the earth. Fracking has disastrous effects on our air, our water, our health, and our climate.

I call on Governor Jerry Brown to put our state's future — its students and young people — ahead of the destructive agenda of the oil and gas industry, and ban fracking in California.

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