From News Line, a daily compilation of farm water news distributed to CFWC members and others upon request. To receive News Line, click here.

Merced River protection should be kept

Coalition response…The viewpoints of this author are well documented with his past writings. Reasonable individuals approach the issue of raising the New Exchequer Dam spillway at Lake McClure from a factual viewpoint and not one that is influenced by personal opinion or emotion.

Chronicle readers should realize that construction of New Exchequer Dam was completed in 1967. Twenty years later in 1987 the Wild and Scenic River Act encroached on the hydroelectric project boundary on the Merced River. The proposal to raise the spillway, not the dam, by 10 feet would inundate the last 1,800 feet of the 122-mile stretch of the Merced River, far from Yosemite, for two to eight weeks every few years. That’s 1/350 of the protected stretch of the river.

In wet years, about every three years, Merced Irrigation District would store an additional 70,000 acre-feet of water that could be carried forward into a dry year. This additional water would be stored and later used to produce food on farms in the region. Even John Muir advocated the use of Sierra waters to irrigate the rich farmland in the Valley.

The pending congressional legislation does not negate the Wild and Scenic River Act. Instead, it provides increased water supplies that will result in multiple benefits.

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