Writer Jonathan Partridge does a good job in presenting a balanced story about the San Joaquin River restoration efforts and its consequences (“Jobs follow water,” Page 3, Sept. 20). The differing viewpoints in this story are too often lacking in most stories that I’ve read. I hope your readers will read all the way through it to learn of concerns by farmers like me.
As the restoration plan was first being considered, many of us from agriculture expressed the fear that we would lose land adjacent to the river or experience crop damage because of the water seepage onto our fields. This nightmare has already been borne out, as I have sustained crop damages because the subsurface water levels rose to damaging levels as officials ran test flows down the river.
More farmland is likely to go out of production as the corridor along the river is expanded. That means less land to grow food and a loss of jobs. These are permanent losses, in contrast to the majority of jobs that will be created in the construction that will only be temporary. The 2005 analysis referenced in the story cited the permanent loss to agriculture at 50,000 to 60,000 acres and 3,000 jobs, and those losses could go even higher. Permanent recreational jobs beginning in 2025 that total only 475 pale in comparison to the permanent losses that farm workers could suffer. We cannot afford to keep losing prime farmland that is providing a food supply for so many.
James L. Nickel, farmer, Bakersfield