It’s been 30 years since Colusa and Glenn County’s farming communities were hit with environmental regulations so severe that local farmers and their families were launched into political action to protect their rights, their ability to provide the world with food, and the stability of the local economy.
Facing onerous restrictions on water in 1991, Family Water Alliance was born. The grassroots effort, led originally by Maxwell residents Sue Sutton, Marion Mathis, and Joe Carrancho, soon led to a larger coalition of regional farmers and ranchers, including Lee McCorkle, of Glenn County, Jerry Maltby, of Colusa County, Ray Davis Sr., of Sacramento County, and Mike Shannon, of Sutter County.
For three decades, Family Water Alliance members have attended countless north state environmental meetings, court hearings, and government meetings. They met with legislators and donated their time and money to protect farming communities from overreaching environmental intrusions on water and land. Family Water Alliance, since 1996, has also been the program manager in cooperation with several state and federal agencies, and private contributors, in spearheading research, development, and installation of fish screens on small agricultural diversions.
“We’ve lasted this long, which is quite an accomplishment for a volunteer organization,” said Chairman Joe Lauwerijssen, of Arbuckle, at the 25th annual Hot Cajun Night Dinner on Saturday.
The dinner, which is held annually to celebrate FWA’s fight to protect water, property rights, agriculture, and rural living, was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.
This year’s event returned in 2021, again with Tom Indrieri and son Quinton Indrieri behind the tri-tip, chicken, and jambalaya. Former FWA Executive Director Ashley Indrieri was also found in the kitchen and hall, working beside a team of volunteers.
“It was a little difficult after a year of COVID, but it’s great to be back,” said FWA Executive Director Nadine Bailey. “This year is special because 2021 is the 30th anniversary of Family Water Alliance as an organization.”
The Hot Cajun Night dinner is the only fundraiser for Family Water Alliance, and supporters of the non-profit organization dug deep into their own pockets during the live and silent auctions.
Jesse and Jennifer Diaz, of Stonyford, won the gun safe after bidding on the winning key to the lock. Boxes of donated local commodities brought in about $200 a piece, and desserts averaged about $300.
Jerry Maltby was the auctioneer.
Glenn Colusa Farm Credit was the Emerald Sponsor for the dinner. Royal Sponsors were Butte Creek Farms, Intake Screens Inc., and Garden Highway Mutual Water. Diamond Sponsor was HDR, Inc. There were also dozens of individuals and local businesses recognized as Platinum, Gold, and Green Ribbon Sponsors for their generous contributions.
Lauwerijssen said Family Water Alliance is as vital today as it was 30 years ago and continues to build its coalition by involving the next generation of activists, who will look forward to the future with pride.
“We have a continuity plan,” Lauwerijssen said. “Hopefully, we will be around a long time.” ■