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The State

March 14, 1986

Residents of the Fresno County cities of Mendota and Firebaugh picketed the state Capitol, charging that plugging of agricultural drains feeding the polluted Kesterson Wildlife Refuge will bring them economic and environmental ruin. Mendota City Councilman Robert Silva predicted that at least 2,000 jobs will be lost if the Westlands Water District closes drains carrying agricultural waste water from about 42,000 acres of farmland. "They will be destroying Mendota and Firebaugh," Silva said. He predicted that the salty underground water table would rise, contaminating the city's water supplies. Demonstrators met with a member of Gov. George Deukmejian's staff. They also filed a federal court suit seeking a temporary restraining order forbidding Westlands to close the drains for the time being. There has been a three-year controversy over the federal refuge near Los Banos. Selenium, a trace element carried with waste water, is blamed for deaths and deformities in wildlife.

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