Posted on | February 22, 2010 | 3 Comments
Southern California has had a series of dry years in good water reporting. Far and away the best journalist on the beat, the Los Angeles Times’ Pulitzer-prize winning Bettina Boxall, appears to have been be largely sidelined from day-to-day news gathering while on a “project” — rumor has it that it’s a big read on water. But when Boxall deigns to break from what the Times calls “literary journalism” to do a daily story, pay attention. Something important has spurred her into action. This is the case today as she takes the mainstream media into reporting that the best of the water blogs* have been doing for some time, ie: Testing claims by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Jim Costa that federal protections for endangered fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are behind an employment/food production catastrophe in the Central Valley.
“In Fresno County, the state’s top-producing agricultural county, the number of farm jobs rose slightly last year,” she writes. “Department figures show farm employment has increased statewide since 2006 — a year of bountiful water supplies in the valley — and dipped only slightly between 2008 and 2009. Growers of major crops such as rice and processing tomatoes enjoyed a bumper year in 2009. Grape production was down slightly, but still among the highest on record. And though photographs of farmers bulldozing their almond groves for lack of water were a media favorite, California had more acres of bearing almond trees last year than ever before.”
To keep reading Boxall’s report, click here. For continuous coverage of the political dogfight over the proposed lifting of Endangered Species Act protections for Delta fish to send more water to farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley in Congressman Costa’s district, go to Aquafornia, the news feed of the Water Education Foundation. *On the Public Record is a personal favorite blog, but those averse to swearing should be warned that its editor is not. This post was updated shortly after posting to add the link (and to give credit) to OtPR.