By Alex Breitler of The Stockton Record
LODI – This was their day.
Tired of attending agency meetings where they feel their voices are not heard, Delta farmers, anglers and environmentalists had their own symposium Saturday to seek solutions and get organized.
“It was a big call for action,” said striped bass fisherman David Scatena of Stockton.
Scatena became the latest member of the grass-roots group Restore the Delta, which hosted Saturday’s event. About 270 people attended, making it one of the largest meetings held purely for the people who live, work or play in the Delta.
No government officials dictating the agenda. None of the powerful water agencies pushing for a peripheral canal. Only a diverse cross-section of Delta interests, from farmers in their boots to water lawyers in their suits.
“Our goal is that each and every one of you becomes a Delta advocate,” Restore the Delta organizer Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla told the crowd.
This wasn’t just about fighting a canal, although there was plenty of opposition in the room to the state’s plans to funnel freshwater around rather than through the Delta.
Local officials presented their view on a better solution: Water conservation, flood basins to recharge sagging groundwater aquifers, collection of rain water that runs off our homes and businesses, water recycling and desalination, strategies that can make distant regions of the state self-reliant, said Tom Zuckerman, a longtime Delta landowner and advocate.
But the greatest emphasis might have been on how to step up pressure on the state as a process that could lead to construction of a canal speeds along. U.S. representatives Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, and George Miller, D-Martinez, echoed calls for cohesiveness, even between groups that might not ordinarily see eye to eye.
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