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      Water Flow To Westside Farms To Be Reduced By Half

      By: Monty Torres and Rich Rodriguez

      A Fresno-based federal judge has denied an emergency request for a temporary restraining order to keep water flowing for the benefit of west valley farms.

      Attorney's for Westside farmers, growers and municipal water suppliers had requested a delay in the application of new pumping restrictions to protect the delta smelt.

      Last Friday, Judge Oliver W. Wanger approved a similar temporary restraining order to void restrictions on pumping delta water to protect salmon.{} That order allowed delta pumps to be operated at maximum pumping capacity for 14 days starting{} at 7AM last Saturday, February 6th.

      Wednesday's{}decision however, "moots" the earlier order.{} As a result, the water flow from the delta will be slashed in half, from 4,000 cfs (cubic feet per second_ to 2,000 cfs.{} The pumps are now due to be turned down by 7AM, Friday morning, February 11th.

      The restrictions now being put into place and governed by the Endangered Species Act do not allow judges{} to "balance the hardship" and consider the restrictions impact upon people, unlike the law governing{} Wanger's earlier order last Friday.

      All parties will return to court next week for additional motions and challenges to the federal government's biological opinion.{}