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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: The fouling of the San Joaquin River has been an environmental crime against Stockton

A waterway near Stockton
A waterway outside Stockton connects to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Bravo to the L.A. Times for adding the oft-overlooked city of Stockton to its calculus of destructive state and federal water policy toward the badly abused San Joaquin River. The editorial nailed it: “The contest is not farms versus fish. It is money versus people.”

Stockton sits on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. We live where all the water is, yet find ourselves plundered by powerful, moneyed agribusiness and urban interests that chose to live and farm where the water is not.

Stockton boasts one of the last undeveloped urban waterfronts in the state. If you’ve been to San Antonio’s River Walk, you can imagine what a special urban waterfront experience Stockton could offer if the water weren’t ugly and poisoned.

To treat the San Joaquin River better would be to treat poor Stockton with more economic and social justice.

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Michael Fitzgerald, Stockton

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To the editor: I have not seen the suffering of Stockton, but I saw the beauty of the delta last year while returning from a visit to my son in Sacramento.

All who treasure the natural and cultural heritage of California must visit the delta in order to truly appreciate what can be lost so easily. The natural habitat created by the great Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers is worthy of as much respect as Yosemite or any of the other natural splendors of California.

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To destroy the delta so almonds can be grown in the driest part of the San Joaquin Valley is disgusting.

Visit the delta. You can’t help but be impressed. Preserve the delta.

Stanley Finney, San Pedro

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To the editor: One of the most beautiful natural scenes that I have ever encountered was high in the Sierra, at Thousand Island Lake, where the headwaters of the San Joaquin River flow under the majestic Banner Peak, destined for the San Joaquin Valley.

The Yokut people lived for thousands of years surrounded by abundant wildlife along the river. The flow of the river was once augmented by the overflow of Tulare Lake, which before it was totally drained for agricultural interests was the largest body of fresh water west of the Mississippi River.

How sad to read that the lower river channel has been reduced to a flow-challenged, algae-choked, toxic trickle due to the Friant Dam and agricultural diversions.

Rather than allow agriculture to promise fallowing poorly drained land, which they have poisoned with salt and selenium, in return for more water, we should demand the water be returned to the San Joaquin River and replace a bit of its lost grandeur.

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Tony Baker, Rancho Palos Verdes


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