Feds agree to clean up farmland
In 1995, Westlands sued, claiming federal officials reneged on their obligation to help them dispose of the toxic runoff that deformed millions of migratory birds in the 1980s. The bureau is also continuing discussions with the region’s water districts on an alternative plan that would turn the drainage problem over to farmers in return for a stake in the San Luis Reservoir and miles of federal canals, agency spokesman Jeff McCracken said. FRESNO – In a move to resolve a decade-old legal tussle, federal officials have announced a $2.6 billion plan to retire almost 200,000 acres of tainted Central Valley farmland and clean up salty runoff from surrounding areas. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation signed off on the plan Friday as a proposed resolution to a lawsuit brought by a powerful water district that has sought to force the federal government to clean up the polluted runoff. The plan “fulfills the requirements” of the courts, which have determined the federal government must help drain the tainted water in the Westlands Water District, which covers western Fresno and Kings counties, according to the agency. Along with halting irrigation on a wide swath of farmland, the bureau’s plan would also create a system to collect, treat and reuse the runoff, which carries concentrated levels of selenium, a naturally occurring trace element. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!