Commentary: Settling river issue serves us all

This editorial appeared in The Fresno Bee.

The 20-year struggle to resolve the question of San Joaquin River restoration may be nearing the finish line. Federal legislation essential to the effort appears headed for a vote, either in the lame-duck session of Congress now under way, or by the new Congress early next year.

It's not a solution that pleases everyone, but it is in everyone's best interests to settle this issue and move on.

The legislation grew out of a settlement of a case brought by environmentalists in 1988. The suit charged that construction of Friant Dam illegally diverted water needed to maintain historic salmon runs in the river.

Farmers and water agencies in the Valley reached a settlement in the case that will reduce water for farming as it restores the flow of the river in an effort to bring the salmon back. But they feared they might lose even more if the case ended up being decided by a judge.

The settlement requires federal approval and funding. The money was the hang-up over the past two years, as many in Congress balked over the $250 million price tag.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fresno Bee.