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View all the Water Archive oral history videos here.
The development of the San Joaquin Valley into the largest agricultural area in the U.S. and major population center in California is inextricably tied to the story of water in the Valley--where it is, how much there is and how it will be distributed. The Valley's water story is a fascinating and complex topic that is still evolving. This is why it's often best understood from the perspective of those who work the land and design water systems, make water policies and settled disputes, brokered water deals and managed the various water districts as well as those who fought for environmental protections.
Alvin Quist: A retired farmer talking about the growing trouble he had in his career securing water for his crops and the impact this had on his growing operation.
Brent Graham: Worked for the Kings River Conservation District and Tulare Basin Storage District. Talked about developing early infrastructure and flooding. Talked about working with Sayers and Boswell farming corporations.
Cal Dooley: Former member of Congress for Fresno and Tulare counties. Talked about dealing with California water issues in the Congress, as well as giving opinions about current stalemates over water legislation in Washington.
Chris Kapheim and Doug Jensen: Chris Kapheim is general manager of the Alta Irrigation District, the oldest irrigation district on the Kings River and one of the oldest districts in California. Doug Jensen is a founding partner of Baker, Manock, and Jensen and longtime counsel to the Alta Irrigation District.
Claude Laval III: President of the Laval Corporation. Talked about growth and change in the field of water technology, and how technology developed here in the Valley has been used all over the world.
Coke Hallowell: About the challenges of establishing the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust, as well as the San Joaquin River Restoration agreement.
Dale Melville: Civil engineer working in water, developing many of the municipal water systems around the Valley and in the high desert. A specialist in waste water.
Dan Dooley: Attorney representing several east-side irrigation districts during the negotiations over the San Joaquin River Settlement and the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.
Dan Nelson: Former executive director of the Delta Mendota San Luis Joint Powers Authority operating the Delta Mendota Canal and the San Luis Reservoir. Talked a lot about changes in water allocations from the Central Valley Project for westside farmers.
Dave Orth: Former general manager of the Westlands Water District and former general manager of the Kings River Conservation District.
Dennis Falaschi: General manager of the Panoche Water District on the west-side of the Valley, talking about how water districts work and how they cope with drainage issues on the west side.
Diane Rathmann: Water lawyer from Dos Palos who was instrumental in creating the Delta Mendota San Luis Joint Powers Authority to operate the Delta Mendota Canal and the CVP Delta pumps in place of the federal government.
Dick Moss: A long time consultant specializing in water management strategies for irrigation districts in the south Valley.
Earnest Conant: Bakersfield water lawyer with a long history of working on water rights on the Kern River and working with south Valley water districts.
Elizabeth Hudson: Former public relations manager for Westlands Water District. Talked about dealing with the 160-acre limitation and the Kesterson wildlife refuge disaster.
Gary Sawyers: Fresno water lawyer talking about the litigation leading to the San Joaquin River Settlement and salmon restoration plan.
Gene Rose: Former environmental reporter for the Fresno Bee. Talked generally about covering water issues, and more specifically about covering the Kesterson environmental disaster in 1983.
George and Maia Ballis: George Ballis is the former director of National Land for People (and professional photographer covering Cesar Chavez) that sued the Westlands Water District of compliance with the 160-acre limitation in Reclamation law.
Gordon Nelson: Former chief of staff to Congressman Tony Coelho and point person on the 1982 Reclamation Reform Act ending the battle over the 160-acre limitation in Reclamation Law.
Hal Candee: Former lead attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council in the lawsuits leading to efforts to restore the San Joaquin River.
Harry Brar: Semi-retired farmer talking about the immigration history of his family in the west side of the Valley.
Jack Stone: Farmer and board chair of the Westlands Water District in the early 1980s when they were fighting National Land for People over the 160-acre limitation.
Jack Threlkeld: Former water engineer for the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors, explaining how the water rights of the exchange contractors create so much confusion in the river’s water allocations.
Jack Woolf: Founder of Woolf Farms in the Westlands Water District. He got his start by buying land from Russell Giffen when Giffen was compelled to sell land under the 160-acre limitation. Woolf was involved with the election of Bernie Sisk, who in turn passed the San Luis Act creating the San Luis Resevoir and bringing CVP water to the west-side of the San Joaquin Valley.
James Sorenson: One of the earliest water engineers in the Valley, who was responsible for designing and building the irrigation system in Orange Cove and other east side farm towns.
Jason Peltier: Former deputy general manager of Westlands Water District, former deputy secretary of the Interior, and current general manager of the Delta Mendota San Luis Joint Powers Authority. Talked about water policy during his years in the Interior Department and the trouble west side farmers are having getting regular water supplies.
Jim Ganulin: Former general counsel of the Westlands Water District during the 160-acre limitation battle.
Jim Ganulin and Ken Manock: Ken Manock was a founding partner of Baker, Manock, and Jensen law firm and longtime counsel for Westlands Water District during the fight over the 160-acre limitation, as well as the fight over the Central Valley Project Improvement Act of 1992. Jim Ganulin is a former general counsel of the Westlands Water District during the 160-acre limitation battle.
Jim Nickel: Farmer and descendant of Henry Miller. Talked about Miller and developing water rights and farming on the Kern River near Bakersfield.
Jim Provost: Water engineer and founding partner of Provost and Pritchard. Talked about the history of Valley irrigation systems.
John Watts: Legislative director to Senator Feinstein and principal broker of the San Joaquin River Settlement.
Kole Upton: Former manager of the Chowchilla Water District and former board member of the Friant Water Authority. Upton led the Friant Authority when it negotiated the San Joaquin River Settlement, but then decided to oppose the settlement, withdrawing Chowchilla Water District from Friant in the process. He continues to criticize the settlement today.
Lloyd Carter: Local environmental activist. Talked about being inspired to be an activist on water after covering the Kesterson environmental disaster. Talked about the work he has done on water and the environment.
Oliver Wanger: Former federal judge handling more water cases than any other judges in the United States. Was the presiding judge in many of the Delta Smelt cases.
Phil Larson: Former Fresno County supervisor representing the west side of the Valley. Talked about economic troubles of the west side because of water cut backs.
Randy McFarland: Talks about the history of water development on the Kings and San Joaquin rivers.
Richard Schafer: Water engineer from Visalia. Talked about development of dams in the Sierra Nevada and irrigation systems on the Tule River.
Shirley and Lindley Brinker: Daughter and grand-daughter of a water witch who searched out good well drilling sites in the Valley for years.
Stan Barnes, part 1: Former chief hydrological engineer for the Boswell Corporation. Talked about developing their water systems and farming the Tulare Lake Basin.
Walt Shubin: Former Kerman farmer and water activist. Talked about his memories of the San Joaquin River before Friant Dam and how he became a water activist.