UPDATED: California water issues get national TV exposure

09/17/2009 11:08:11 AM
Don Schrack

(UPDATED COVERAGE, Sept. 17, 11:20 p.m.) Conservative broadcast personality Sean Hannity got out of his New York television studio Sept. 17 and saw firsthand fallow farmland in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

The focus of the Fox cable channel program was the valley's ongoing water crisis.

Guests included comedian and grower-shipper Paul Rodriguez, who has become a spokesman for efforts to encourage Sacramento and Washington, D.C., officials to increase the shipments of irrigation water to the valley.

The state’s three-year drought and court-ordered restrictions on the shipping of Northern California water to the valley and to Southern California have forced growers to leave fallow about 500,000 acres of farmland, according to U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, who also appeared on the program.

The lack of irrigation water has forced the layoffs of thousands of farmworkers. The unemployment rate in the western Fresno County communities of Mendota, San Joaquin and Huron — areas that produce thousands of tons of tomatoes, melons, lettuce and other commodities — hovers around 40%.

The program aired at 9 p.m. (EDT) and was repeated for other time zones.



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