Our Voice: Next congressman could be caught in the middle
by Press Editorial Board
Jan 27, 2012 | 2691 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It looks like Tracy’s next congressman will have to pick a side in the Central Valley’s version of North versus South.

The North is San Joaquin County and above, and the South is the West Side of Stanislaus County and below.

The North relies on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to provide its $1 billion-a-year agriculture industry with its literal lifeblood — water. That means the idea of a peripheral canal to pump water around the Delta is an economic nonstarter.

The South relies upon the Delta for its water as well, but receives much of its wet stuff via canals and aqueducts. The people there would greatly benefit from a peripheral canal, which promises to increase the quality and quantity of water available to the south and west sides of the valley.

Indeed, the state is split in two when it comes to dividing its most precious natural resource. And Tracy is right on the line, as the city and its farmers draw water from both the South-serving canal and the North-serving rivers that flow into the Delta.

That pivot point will force a tough decision from the next representative of a congressional district that encompasses Tracy south of Interstate 205, Manteca, and all of Stanislaus County — land on both sides of the water divide.

A decision for the South means happy farmers to the south and west of Tracy, though it could spell trouble for vast swaths of San Joaquin County’s No. 1 industry. A decision for the North means happy Delta-area farmers and a rosier outlook for San Joaquin, but could mean tougher times for those in Stanislaus who rely on the subsidized, imported water.

That means politicians in the 10th District can’t just make blanket calls to “protect agriculture.”

They need to be more specific about whose agriculture they intend to protect and present a more detail-rich plan that can better balance our region’s competing demands.
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