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The State

March 12, 1986

Protesters declared victory when the Westlands Water District stopped plugging farm drains leading to the polluted Kesterson Reservoir a day after starting, but the district said it was only a one-day delay. The plugging project was suspended by drenching rain and a plan by Sen. Pete Wilson to discuss the work with Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel, whose agency wants Kesterson to close, said Bill Johnston, Westlands assistant manager. He promised that crews would return to fields in western Fresno County today. About 15 demonstrators picketed outside Westlands headquarters in Fresno. "The process has fallen down, but we think we're having the desired effect," said Jim Tischer, one of the demonstration organizers. Plugging drains is a major element of an agreement between Interior and Westlands intended to halt the flow of polluted irrigation water to Kesteron by June 30. Selenium, a mineral leached from the soil, carried from farms has been blamed for bird deaths and deformities.

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