U.S. District Court Judge James Mahan recently postponed the criminal trial of officials who run the Truckee Carson Irrigation District until February 2010 at the request of defense lawyers who said they need more time to prepare for such an “unusual and complex case.” The officials are accused of defrauding the federal government for years so they could deliver more water from Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River to area ranchers and farmers than was rightfully theirs.
A 2008 flood triggered dozens of lawsuits from more than 100 homeowners and questions about the amount of water flowing through 370 miles of canals. Hydrology expert witnesses estimate it would cost $3.1 million to build an 11.7-mile long concrete barrier on the Truckee irrigation canal to protect against a breach such as the one in 2008. Environmentalists and others question whether taxpayers should subsidize a century-old irrigation system that uses precious water resources to grow crops in the desert.
Excerpted from SierraSun.com.