Statement by Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition on the State Water Board Emergency Water Conservation Regulation

By California Farm Water Coalition

“Today’s State Water Board emergency water conservation regulation continues to demonstrate how serious this year’s drought is. Water conservation measures are reaching farther and farther into our communities and now go beyond the water supply cuts felt by California farms and rural communities earlier this year.

“The taps that deliver surface water to the farms that grow the local food we buy at grocery stores were effectively turned off in March and April. Almost half of the irrigated farmland in California has had its surface water supply reduced by 50% or more.

“We live in an increasingly unstable world, but politicians and regulators are not doing the work needed to guard our safe, affordable, domestic food supply during these uncertain times. Failing to act will not only worsen rising food costs, they may permanently disrupt the food systems that many now take for granted.

“California farms produce over half of the country’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables. California foods aren’t just in the produce aisle, but also in the ready-made foods and ingredients we eat every single day. That can’t happen without water and we cannot simply move California production to other states. A safe, affordable, domestic food supply is a national security issue, just like energy. The government must make it a priority.

“Water supply shortages affect families throughout the state and the nation that depend on California farms for the safe, fresh, and locally-produced farm products we all buy at the grocery store.”

2022-05-27T11:16:12-07:00May 25th, 2022|

Today’s World is Full of Uncertainties. Your Food Supply Shouldn’t be One of Them

By Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition

The war in Ukraine and all the global unrest it is causing has focused American’s attention on just how uncertain a world we inhabit.

Inflation was already wreaking havoc on family budgets and now gas prices are also skyrocketing.

Which is exactly why our government should be doing everything it can to reduce reliance on foreign sources for our basic needs, especially food.

Unfortunately, that is the exact opposite of what is happening.

Through out-of-balance regulatory policies and a failure to prioritize western farming, our government is putting our safe, affordable, domestic food supply at risk.

Over 80% of our country’s fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown west of the Rockies and simply cannot be moved elsewhere. Without that supply, Americans will see shortages at the store, even higher prices, be forced to rely more heavily on increasingly unstable foreign sources, or all of these at the same time.

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When you make a salad, have fruit for breakfast, eat a hamburger with cheese, or put tomato sauce and garlic on a pizza, odds are that at least some of those products came from California.

But without a reliable water supply, that farmland simply cannot produce what our country needs.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

In some western states, the government is holding on to existing water supply, rather than release it to farms to grow food. In California, we must move more quickly to build and repair infrastructure that will help us store more water in wet years for use in dry ones like this one. And in general, water policy has become unbalanced in ways that penalize the farms trying to produce our food supply.

California farmers are doing their part and have reduced water use by double digits since 1980. Throughout the West, farms are also important in the battle against climate change because crop production helps remove carbon dioxide from the air. If things continue the way they are, our government is essentially creating deserts instead of food production, which will only perpetuate the cycles of drought and wildfires we’d like to avoid.

Food price increases in 2022 are now expected to exceed those observed in 2020 and 2021. Without changes in water policy, it will continue to get worse.

It has never been more important that U.S. consumers insist on domestically grown food in our stores.

2022-04-21T15:58:13-07:00April 21st, 2022|

New Sacramento Museum Educates Residents About Farms’ Water Needs

Farm Credit helps fund three exhibits at Museum of Science and Curiosity that demonstrate why farms need water and how farmers are conserving this precious resource

Despite recent heavy rains, California is still experiencing one of its worst droughts in history, so reminding the public and policy makers that food does not grow without water is a critical need for the state’s agricultural community. That’s why Mike Wade and Farm Credit were excited to see the new SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity open recently.

The $52 million state-of-the-art science center in Sacramento contains dozens of interactive exhibits that allows visitors to explore the wonders of science, technology, engineering and math and specifically address global and local issues relating energy, water, health, nature, space and design engineering.

Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, said the three water exhibits the coalition is sponsoring bring home the fact that water is essential to grow our food and that California farmers are leading the world in conserving the precious resource.

“The exhibits have been very popular with museum visitors so far. Both students and adults have been taking turns finding out about the water it takes to grow our food and how farmers use the latest technology to conserve it,” Wade said.

“It’s always been part of our mission to educate people about the connection between farm water and their food supply. It’s important that everyone know that farmers are using water in an efficient manner and that as consumers, we all depend on farmers.”

American AgCredit, CoBank and Farm Credit West collectively pledged $75,000 over five years to help build and maintain the exhibits. The organizations are part of the nationwide Farm Credit System – the largest provider of credit to U.S. agriculture.

Wade said one exhibit consists of a touchscreen monitor on which people can drag food items from an illustrated list to your plate. Once they’ve made their selections, they can click the “eat it” button and the display will show the nutrition value and water demand of the foods on the plate. And that in turn shows participants how close they are to meeting their nutritional needs and the amount of water needed to produce that food.

Mark Littlefield, President and CEO of Farm Credit West, said the exhibit will be an important learning tool for visitors.

“The exhibit helps people understand that it takes a significant amount of water to grow the food we eat. It’s eye-opening to select the right foods to eat and then see at the end of the game how much water it takes to grow that food,” he said.

Another interactive exhibit demonstrates how technology is helping farmers use just the right amount of water to grow their crops, said Curt Hudnutt, President and CEO of American AgCredit.

“The More Crop Per Drop exhibit lets visitors irrigate their field with a set water budget without giving them any information about how much water the crops need,” Hudnutt said. “Then they can try again after getting information from water sensors and then a third time with additional information from drones that pinpoint areas that have enough water and areas that need more. In most cases, participants will do better with additional information, making this a great way of showing how farmers are already at the cutting edge of technology.”

Wade said the third exhibit is a map of California that shows the state’s major water projects and conveyance facilities.

“The highlight here are quotes from five farmers from the five major ag regions who describe how storage and conveyance have made it possible for them to farm,” he said.

The exhibits will be on display for 15 years at the museum, located in a building that once housed a century-old powerplant on the banks of the Sacramento River. The building was rebuilt and modernized and a new wing added that includes a planetarium, offices, and a café. The agricultural water interactive exhibits are part of the Water Challenge Gallery, located in the historic power plant section of the museum.

Wade said Farm Credit’s support has been extremely valuable in making the exhibits a reality.

“None of this would be possible without Farm Credit and the other donors giving so generously,” he said. “Educating the public is a shared responsibility of the entire agricultural industry, and Farm Credit is leading by example.”

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About Farm Credit: American AgCredit, CoBank and Farm Credit West are cooperatively owned lending institutions providing agriculture and rural communities with a dependable source of credit. We specialize in financing farmers, ranchers, farmer-owned cooperatives, rural utilities and agribusinesses. Farm Credit offers a broad range of loan products and financial services, including long-term real estate loans, operating lines of credit, equipment and facility loans, cash management and appraisal and leasing services…everything a “growing” business needs. For more information, visit www.farmcreditalliance.com

About the California Farm Water Coalition: CFWC is a non-profit, educational organization formed in 1989 to provide fact-based information on farm water issues to the public. The organization works to help consumers, elected representatives, government officials and the media make the connection between farm water and our food supply. For more information, visit www.farmwater.org.

2022-01-04T14:33:46-08:00January 4th, 2022|

Any New Biological Opinions Will Get Review by CA Congress Reps

California Members Release Statement on Updated Biological Opinions for Central Valley Project

WASHINGTON, DC – Representatives Josh Harder (CA-10), John Garamendi (CA-03), Jim Costa (CA-16), and TJ Cox (CA-21) and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released the following statement on the updated biological opinions for federally protected fish species and coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project:

“The Endangered Species Act requires periodic reviews to determine the best available science. The federal government’s science for Chinook salmon and Delta smelt was more than a decade old and needed to be updated, especially given climate change.

“We are examining the new biological opinions to ensure they incorporate the adaptive management and real-time monitoring needed to properly manage the Central Valley Project for the benefit of all Californians. The new biological opinions must also provide the scientific basis needed to finalize the voluntary settlement agreements between the State Water Resources Control Board and water users.

“We look forward to the State of California’s thoughtful analysis of the biological opinions. In Congress, we continue working to secure federal investment in the Central Valley Project to meet California’s future water needs and support habitat restoration efforts called for in the updated biological opinions.”

 

2021-05-12T11:05:01-07:00October 24th, 2019|

New Water Year Brings Surplus!

Surplus for New Water Year Will Help Farmers in 2020

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The Oct. 1 new water year, has brought the state a surplus— with statewide reservoir storage 128% of average.

“The wet 2017 was needed for our reservoirs to refill after an extended drought, and we’re hopeful that the upcoming water year will be generous,” said Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition based in Sacramento.

The coalition educates consumers and others in the state about the importance of water for farms

“One of the things that we’re concerned about is allocations that have not seemed to keep up with the water supply, but we do understand there’s some question about environmental practices and enough water held over for stream flows, and those questions are something that we’ll have to contend with in the future,” said Wade.

With the carryover water that we have, we know that we’ll be in better shape going into this coming year than we have in some years in the past. But one of the things that are going to be helpful is if the Governor’s voluntary agreements get implemented regarding the State Water Resources Control Board’s Bay-Delta Plan on the Tuolumne River. “We have more reliability and understanding about how water is going to be used from year to year and how much will be available for water supply reliability, as well as the important environmental projects that are going on around the state,” he said.

“In December 2018, when the state Water Board adopted their Unimpaired Flow Plan, there was a lot of concern that that was going to take a lot of water. It would have taken a million or 2 million acre-feet of water potentially out of the available water that we have from year to year,” said Wade.

“The voluntary agreements represent a generational change in how we manage water and environmental projects in the state. I will provide more local control, more input from water users, and the ability to build the kinds of projects and do the kinds of stream restoration that not only help restore our ecosystem, but it makes water supply more reliable for farms, homes, and businesses around the state,” he said.

 

2019-10-10T19:42:02-07:00October 14th, 2019|

How to Read a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP)

GSP Are Important to Understand

By Don A. Wright
www.WaterWrights.net

The following will have a lot of abbreviations so buckle up. The California Department of Water Resources – DWR – had divided the southern San Joaquin Valley into nine hydrologic sub-basins. Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act – SGMA – each sub-basin must have one or more Groundwater Sustainability Agency – GSA. These GSAs are required to submit a Groundwater Sustainability Plan – GSP – to DWR for review no later than January 2020.

DWR will only accept one GSP per sub-basin and most sub-basins have multiple GSAs. Most GSAs overlie an irrigation or water district, municipality or county line.

Don Wright

In order to ensure the expert knowledge and interests of the area are well represented most GSAs have opted to write their own GSP. These individual GSPs will be combined as chapters for the overarching sub-basin GSP; so DWR will only have to review the one plan per sub-basin. For instance, the Kings River sub-basin has seven GSAs. The North Kings GSA’s GSP would be more than a foot thick if printed on paper. Stacked on top of one another all seven GSP chapters of the Kings River Sub Basin would be about five feet high.

The taxpayers of California pay the state to hire trained employees at DWR to read these plans. Most folks don’t have the luxury to hire someone to read the plans or the time and patience to do so themselves.

However, there is good news. Much of each chapter is redundant to the other chapter. For example; within the same sub-basin each GSA is required to use the same methodology to arrive at its GSP findings. This helps with uniformity in style – one chapter won’t be in acre-feet while another uses liters. In other words, you read one methodology you’ve read them all. To further refine your reading task each GSP has an executive summary. This passage sums up most of the information in the overall GSP and will save a lot of time, eyestrain and stifled yawns.

Under SGMA GSAs are required to release drafts of the GSPs for review to only counties and cities. However, most if not all of the GSAs in the San Joaquin Valley have opted to release public drafts of their GSP for comment. Not all GSPs have yet to be released but most have and the remainder will soon follow. They are available online.

In the Southern San Joaquin Valley from north to south the sub-basins are:

Delta Mendota –  http://deltamendota.org/,

Chowchilla – https://www.maderacountywater.com/subbasins/,

Madera – https://www.maderacountywater.com/subbasins/

Westside – https://www.countyofkings.com/departments/administration/county-counsel/waterfaq,

Kings River – http://kingsgroundwater.info/sgma-legislation/groundwater-sustainability-agencies/,

Tulare Lake – https://www.countyofkings.com/departments/administration/county-counsel/waterfaq

Kaweah River – https://tularelakebasin.com/alliance/index.cfm/sustainable-groundwater-management-act-sgma/kaweah-sub-basin/,

Tule River – https://tulesgma.com/,

Kern – http://www.kerngwa.com/

2019-10-04T21:27:43-07:00October 10th, 2019|

Raising Shasta Dam Hit’s Snag

Termination of Shasta Dam Raise CEQA Analysis

Westlands Water District terminated its preparation of an environmental impact report pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The District was preparing the environmental impact report to assess the effects of raising Shasta Dam, as proposed by the Bureau of Reclamation, including whether the Dam raise would adversely affect the free-flowing conditions of the McCloud River or its wild trout fishery.

Under federal law, if Reclamation determines to raise the Dam, local cost share partners would be responsible for at least half of the costs. The environmental impact report being prepared by the District would have provided the information necessary for the District to determine whether it could or would become a cost share partner. The District terminated the CEQA process because the Superior Court issued, at the request of the California Attorney General, a preliminary injunction that stopped the District from preparing the environmental review document until after the Court conducts a trial and issues a final decision in the case. The practical effect of the injunction is that the District would not likely be able to complete CEQA within the schedule Reclamation has for the project.

Tom Birmingham, the District’s general manager expressed his disappointment in this outcome: “no agency of the State has conducted a project-specific analysis of Reclamation’s proposal, to determine if enlargement of Shasta Dam would adversely affect aquatic resources – particularly those in the lower McCloud River. Westlands took the initiative to do that assessment, through the public process established by CEQA. It is unfortunate that, as a result of the actions of the Attorney General, Westlands was enjoined from completing that analysis.”  

2019-10-01T10:35:33-07:00October 1st, 2019|

Fight Against SB1

Contact your Assemblymember and State Senator today to ask them to oppose SB 1 (Atkins).  Despite amendments taken last night, SB 1 still threatens the water supply of our agricultural communities.

Amendments to SB 1 were made on September 10thto remove the language redefining “waste” and “waters of the state” in the Water Code and the requirement that the state adopt old federal Biological Opinion standards for species that are listed under the provisions of SB 1.

However, SB 1 attempts to apply the California Endangered Species Act to the federal operations of the Central Valley Project so that they can justify smaller water deliveries to farming and ranching communities.  California does not have the authority to mandate an action by the federal government.  Including this provision will likely lead to a collapse of negotiations to implement the Voluntary Settlement Agreements (VSA) which would ensure science and reason are part of the water management in this state.  This would leave the draconian unimpaired flow standards proposed by the State Water Board in place – a potential reduction of 40-60% of our annual water deliveries.

Act now to ask that SB 1 be voted down or made a 2-year bill. Contact here:  Fix SB 1 – Urgent Update!

2019-09-15T19:07:48-07:00September 16th, 2019|

Congressman Harder: Veto SB1

Harder, California Members of Congress Statement on Planned Veto of SB1

WASHINGTON – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10), alongside Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representatives Jim Costa (CA-16), John Garamendi (CA-03), and TJ Cox, (CA-21) released the following statement in advance of Governor Gavin Newsom’s veto of SB1. 

Josh Harder

Congressman Harder

 “While we support the objectives of SB1 – to protect clean air, drinking water, and our environment – the bill as written would jeopardize those very goals. It is critical that all Californians, especially those in our disadvantaged communities, have a reliable supply of clean, fresh drinking water, in addition to water for our environment and essential agriculture industry. We applaud the Governor’s leadership in vetoing this bill, and his efforts to solve California’s difficult water challenges with solutions that meet the needs of the 21st century.

“Working together with all water users provides the best hope for avoiding endless litigation on the management of California’s water supply. We know this through experience. Continuing the collaborative process put in motion by the Governor can result in improved habitats and protect fish and wildlife species, while also ensuring improved water supply reliability for our communities and family farms across California.”

 

2019-09-15T19:05:40-07:00September 16th, 2019|

Fighting to Protect Family Farms from Water Diversion

In Face of Water Diversion Threat, Ag Industry Experts are Speaking Out

By Laurie Greene, Editor

 

California Ag Today has been reporting on the California State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) proposed plan to divert 40 percent of the surface water from the Tuolumne River and two additional tributaries of the San Joaquin River between February 1st and June 30th every year. The SWRCB plan is designed to increase flows in the Delta in an effort to help the declining smelt and salmon populations. Yet, these water diversions would severely impact not only the farm industry, but communities in the Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts as well.

Michael Boccadoro, president of West Coast Advisors

Michael Boccadoro, president of West Coast Advisors

Ag officials say this is yet another threat to family farms in an attempt to protect the smelt and salmon. Farmers would lose a major portion of their surface water and be forced to pump more groundwater.

“Farming is not just a job; it’s a way of life for many of these families. And that livelihood, that way of life, is being threatened,” said Michael Boccadoro, president of West Coast Advisors, an independent, nonpartisan public affairs and advocacy firm that specializes in complex and often controversial public issues in Sacramento.

Boccadoro said the farm industry in the region is not sitting still while all of this is happening. There is a website, worthyourfight.org, that addresses this new assault on agriculture.

worthyourfight-logo Water Diversion

WorthYourFight.org

“It is worth fighting for,”said Boccadoro. “I was born and raised in agriculture, and I still think it’s a wonderful lifestyle. We need to protect it at all costs. This is starting to border on the ridiculous in terms of just one issue after another. . .  This is not a “Mother Nature” issue; this is government putting these obstacles and these problems in front of agriculture, and that’s troubling.”

“We produce much of the fruits and vegetables and nearly all the nut crops for the entire nation. So, of course, we would expect to see significant amounts of water being used by farming in California,” Boccadoro said.

“It’s just reality, and for whatever reason, I think people have been misled and don’t understand this is just part of growing food. Like I have said, if you are concerned about it, all you’ve got to do is quit eating. It’s that simple.”


Links:

California State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB)

West Coast Advisors

worthyourfight.org

2016-11-22T22:11:51-08:00November 22nd, 2016|
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