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SJ River Water Contracts Challenged

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Environmental groups say the federal government has not completed an adequate environmental review before renewing long-term contracts with farmers who receive water from the San Joaquin River.

They filed an amended complaint in U.S. District Court in Sacramento last week.

The groups, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, are suing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Friant Water Users Authority. They say the agencies´ failure to release water from the Friant Dam caused parts of the San Joaquin River to dry up, and hurt fish and wildlife.

The Friant agency delivers water from the dam to about 15,000 farmers from Merced to Kern Counties.

Kole Upton, chairman of the Friant authority, says the groups are “environmental elitists” who aren´t affected by the proposal to release more water.