Salty water poisons farmland

Irrigation water is ruining crops in central California

The Westlands Water District, which provides water to farms in Fresno and Kings counties, is suing the federal government for $1 billion for failing to clean up salty irrigation drainage that is poisoning farmland.

The lawsuit, filed in late January, comes more than a decade after an appellate court ordered the U.S. Department of the Interior to clean up the tainted water trapped beneath the soil’s surface, according to the Fresno Bee.

“We’re tired of waiting,” said Westlands General Manager Thomas Birmingham. “We’ve been paying for drainage service for decades. The land is sustaining irreparable harm.”

The case was filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims because Westlands is seeking monetary damages rather than actual cleanup of the farm land, which covers an area roughly two-thirds the size of Los Angeles.