Research on Citrus Greening Disease Control

Progress is Being Made on Controlling Citrus Greening

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network 

Citrus Greening Disease, also know as Huanglongbing, has devastated farms in places like Florida, and poses a serious threat in California. Researchers at the University of California Riverside are making progress on potential control. Dr. Hailing Jin describes what makes this pathogen so difficult.

“First, this is a very special bacteria, which cannot be cultured in vitro. So it’s very hard to study. Second, they are phloem limited. They only stay in the phloem, the vasculature tissue of the whole tree. So it’s not very easy to detect on. Another important thing is that they are transmitted by flying insects called Asian Citrus Psyllid, so can be spread very quickly,” explained Jin.

Dr. Jin and colleagues have been researching plants that are tolerant to the disease to identify genes that may lead to natural defense. They plan to publish their research in the coming months.

2020-07-24T10:22:23-07:00July 24th, 2020|

UC Davis Doctoral Student Alexandria Igwe Lands Postdoctoral Fellowship


Alexadria Igwe Will Work on Soil Microbial Communities

UC Davis doctoral student Alexandria “Allie” Igwe, advised by community ecologist and assistant professor Rachel Vannette of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, has received a prestigious $138,000 National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship to work on soil microbial communities and develop novel online tools to increase interest in ecology.

Igwe who joined the UC Davis doctoral program in 2015, anticipates receiving her PhD in microbiology in September 2020.  Her thesis: “Microbial Community Contribution to Plant Abiotic Stress Tolerance: A Case Study in Serpentine Soils.”  Igwe focuses her research on plant-microbe associations, microbial ecology, environmental microbiology and bioinformatics.

“Plant-microbe associations impact plant phenotype, distribution and biodiversity and range in their effects on a continuum from costly parasitic to beneficial mutualistic interactions,” she wrote in her successful proposal. “These mutualistic relationships also range from loose and facultative to endosymbiotic and obligate. The relationship between nitrogen-fixing bacteria and plants is especially important ecologically. Research into these associations have traditionally focused on endosymbiotic relationships within the nodules of legumes. I propose to explore the impact of strong selective soil pressures on microbial local adaptation and mutualism using free-living nitrogen-fixers and non-legumes.“

“My study,” she wrote, “will utilize serpentine ecosystems because serpentine soils are naturally high in heavy metals and deficient in plant nutrients which contributes to low plant productivity and presents strong selective pressures. The system also includes a free-living nitrogen-fixer, Microvirga spp., and plants that can grow on both serpentine and nonserpentine soils (serpentine-indifferent), allowing tractable manipulations across stress environments. Research with this system can be useful for disentangling the relative influence of soil and plant type on the establishment of mutualistic relationships and its impact on plant performance.”

gwe plans to use “culture-based isolation techniques, qPCR, whole-genome sequencing, and manipulative greenhouse and field surveys to: (1) Quantify the abundance of Microvirga spp. in serpentine and nonserpentine soils and explore the relative influence of edaphic factors, elevation, and climate on bacterial abundance. (2) Identify the presence of ecotypic variation in serpentine- and non-serpentine-isolated Microvirga spp. using functional assays and genome-wide sequencing, and (3) Determine the effect of Microvirga spp. on non-leguminous plant survival and development.”

She seeks a career as an environmental microbiologist to “scientifically and commercially address problems related to environmental degradation and food security.”

 “Allie has initiated exciting research directions during her time in the lab: examining how rhizosphere microbes influence plant survival and growth on serpentine soils,” said Vannette, a UC Davis Hellman Fellow.   “She has funded this work through several successful grant applications during her graduate career at UC Davis. Her creative research suggests previously unrecognized ways that plants are able to successfully establish and grow on harsh soils. She has also found that the composition of soil microbes can affect seedling establishment and also change when plants flower!”

“Her findings are novel and they are already making an impact on the field,” Vannette pointed out. “Allie has published a first-author paper and co-authored two additional papers on how soil microbial communities are shaped by soil characteristics and plant species Allie has taken an active role in mentoring students in our lab. She has worked closely with and trained at least five undergraduate students in techniques ranging from DNA extraction and library prep, isolating and identifying soil bacteria, bioinformatics analysis and root imaging analysis. She has accompanied students to national meetings and supported their career goals even after they had left the lab.“

Vannette, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in 2015 after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s biology department, also praised Allie for “taking an active role in mentoring students in our lab. She has worked closely with and trained at least five undergraduate students in techniques ranging from DNA extraction and library prep, isolating and identifying soil bacteria, bioinformatics analysis and root imaging analysis. She has accompanied students to national meetings and supported their career goals even after they had left the lab.”

“Allie has not only strong academic achievements, excellent leadership ability and but also the ability to translate these skills into meaningful research, impactful mentoring, and effective recruitment and retention of underrepresented students,” Vannette said. “Allie has accomplished a lot here at Davis and I am excited to watch her career unfold. Her achievements have been recognized with a prestigious NSF Postdoctoral fellowship.”

Born in Stockton but raised in Houston, Allie remembers how her mother, a registered nurse, “imparted on me the importance of education from a young age and did a lot to make sure I had access to the best public educational opportunities Houston had to offer.

“I am the first to go to graduate school and will be the first doctor in the family, although not the type they likely expected,” she quipped. “I’ve always been interested in the natural world and participated in science fairs growing up. My first project was a survey of all the bugs in my front yard. My mom and I collected, identified, and mounted them. She told me that she could always find me in some mud or looking under a rock or collecting snails. I always had an interest in the environmental field–it just took a little nudge from amazing mentors for me to pursue it.”

Allie received her bachelor’s degree in biology in 2013 from Howard University, Washington, D.C., where she submitted her honors thesis: “Elemental Defense in Alyssum murale: Effects on Plant-Herbivore Interactions.” She holds a master of science degree in soil science in December 2015 from Texas A&M (TAMU), where she presented her thesis on “Phytoremediation of Hydrocarbon-Contaminated Soil Using Phenolic-Exuding Horticultural Plants.”

At TAMU, Allie designed greenhouse experiment to identify rhizosphere microbial composition of horticulture plants growing in soil contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

The UC Davis doctoral student co-authored “Organic Management Promotes Natural Pest Control through Altered Plant Resistance to Insects,” published May 15 in the journal Nature Plants, with Vannette and several other co-authors.

Igwe served as the lead author of the Igwe-Vannette research, “Bacterial Communities Differ Between Plant Species and Soil Type, and Differentially Influence Seedling Establishment on Serpentine Soils,” published June 26, 2010 in the journal Plant and Soil.

At UC Davis, Igwe has helped other students succeed. She served as a teaching assistant from September 2016 to- December 2019 in the UC Davis Career Discovery Group. She mentored a group of 10-20 freshmen in career exploration activities and professional communication. In addition, she recruited industry professionals to participate in student networking events, and coordinated on-site visits with working professionals for career exploration trips. Igwe also was a success coach in the UC Davis Success Coaching and Learning Strategies for a year.

2020-07-23T10:52:09-07:00July 23rd, 2020|

The 2020 Almond Crop Set to Be 3 Billion Meat Pounds



By Patrick Cavanaugh with the Ag Information Network

Three billion pounds! That’s the California almond objective measurement report done by the USDA and the National Agricultural Statistic Service. It’s up 18% from the 2019 crop.

Holly King is a Kern County almond grower and chair of the Almond Board of California. “I’ve always thought, boy, when the stars line up, we are going to blow the doors off the barn with production,” she said. “And this is the year with the acres we’ve got planted, it’s not a surprise that we could get to 3 billion. We just certainly got there a little sooner than we thought, an it’s a big jump from last year, for sure,” said King.

King noted that the crops were down in the last few years when there were pollination problems because of weather. “So this year we did not. It just was picture perfect and the trees are performing and you can sure see it in the numbers. I know the North got hit harder by moisture last year and the trees had a little bit of arrest and boy, you start looking at the nut, count on the trees in northern California, and it’s huge,” said King.

And, globally consumers love almonds. “We are fortunate that they aren’t a very perishable crop, not like growing produce,” King said. And they are heart healthy. They’re nutrient dense. They’re portable, and they’re affordable. So we’re very fortunate that our product has that many attributes that are certainly more in demand. On top of that, people are asking not only is it good for them, but is it good for the planet? And we have a good story to tell,” noted King.

2020-07-22T11:42:53-07:00July 22nd, 2020|

Tulare County Farm Bureau announces 2020 Scholarship Awards

Congrats to All The Great Scholarships Winners

Tulare County Farm Bureau’s Educational and Scholarship charitable trust released in July their 2020 student recipients, this year’s Selection Committee reviewed all applications online, and made their selections increasing the amount of funds awarded in many categories.  Photos of the students are available in the TCFB July 2020 Newspaper edition. 

The TCFB’s education and scholarship trust fund has been awarding scholarships since the trust’s inception in 1990, the scholarship and educational programs of the trust are funded annually through the Spring Gala held in March.  Fortunately this year’s awards were funded by proceeds of the 2019 event, and the COVID pandemic did not impact the award budget for this year.    The 2020 gala was cancelled due to the shelter-in-place orders, but donors have been thoughtful in contributing funds this year, and many have rolled their donations over to the 2021 event in anticipation of it being set for next March. 

Most awards were increased to a $2,000 award, and others increased from $500 to $1,000 awards.   There are also renewable awards offered by the Scott Shannon Memorial fund, and those students may renew the same amount for four years total.  Awards listed below are all awarded by the Tulare County Farm Bureau’s charitable trust.  Certain awards are contributed to by families in memoriam, while others are part of the trust’s permanent endowment. 

Awards are paid after the student provides verification of their college enrollment, and those verifications are due to the Farm Bureau by September 15 or sooner, as available. 

We congratulate all the outstanding students that applied for the awards.  

First NameLast NameAward NameAmountSchool
MariaAguileraScott Shannon Memorial$1,000Mt. Whitney High School
AlissaAmaralFrank Ribeiro Memorial$2,000Tulare Union High School
DaltonBaird2-Year College$1,000Mt. Whitney High School
BryanBerczynskiScott Shannon Memorial$1,000VTEC High School
BryanBerczynskiYoung Farmers & Ranchers$1,000VTEC High School
LaurenDavisMerit Award$500CSU Fresno
RebeccaDuranMerit Award$500CSU Fresno
MadelynFernandesMary Rankin Memorial$2,000Mission Oak High School
ChastineGistTCFB Ag Career$2,000Tulare Western High School
TyceGriswoldScott Shannon Memorial$1,000Central Valley Christian School
GraceGuthrieMerit Award$500Cal Poly, SLO
PaigeKroesMerit Award$500Central Valley Christian School
SelinaLopez CurielStudent of Farm Employee$1,000Woodlake Union High School
RyanMajarianCOS RRS Endowment$1,500Mt. Whitney High School
PiaMartinezMerit Award$500CSU Fresno
JavierMonje Jr.Student of Farm Employee$1,000Tulare Western High School
JavierMonje Jr.Merit Award$500Tulare Western High School
BethanieNegreteYoung Farmers & Ranchers$500Mt. Whitney High School
DafnePamplona QuirozTCFB Ag Career$2,000Dinuba High School
MayalinaPuernerTCFB Ag Career$2,000Exeter Union High School
HunterSeymore2019 Youth Outstanding Participant award$1,000El Diamante High School
AmySwallFred & Marilyn Collison Memorial$2,000Mission Oak High School
KatherineWalkerYoung Farmers & Ranchers$1,000Reedley College
KalinaWeaverKen and Cindy Williams Scholarship$2,500Monache High School
2020-07-20T09:38:11-07:00July 20th, 2020|

USDA, USTR Name New Agricultural Trade Advisors

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer today announced the appointment of 25 new members to serve on seven agricultural trade advisory committees.

The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee is comprised of senior representatives from across the U.S. agricultural community who provide advice to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on trade policy matters including the operation of existing trade agreements and the negotiation of new agreements. Members of the six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees (ATACs) provide technical advice and guidance from the perspective of their specific product sectors.

The newly appointed advisors will serve until 2024. Each committee will be supplemented by additional appointments over the next four years. Applications are encouraged at any time. A complete list of committee members and application information is available at

Following is a list of the new advisors, by committee:

Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee
Constance Cullman, American Feed Industry Association
David Puglia, Western Growers
David Salmonsen, American Farm Bureau Federation

ATAC for Trade in Animals and Animal Products
Robert DeHaan, National Fisheries Institute
Mallory Gaines, American Feed Industry Association
David Herring, Hog Slat Inc./TDM Farms
James Parnell, Alabama Farmers Federation
Maria Zieba, National Pork Producers Council

ATAC for Trade in Fruits and Vegetables
William Callis, U.S. Apple Export Council
Casey Creamer, California Citrus Mutual
Jodi Devaurs, California Table Grape Commission
Jonathan Maberry, Washington Red Raspberry Commission
Caroline Stringer, California Fresh Fruit Association

ATAC for Trade in Grains, Feed, Oilseeds and Planting Seeds
Peter Bachmann, USA Rice Federation
William Gordon, American Soybean Association
Derek Haigwood, D.I.D. Farms
Patrick Hayden, North American Export Grain Association
Dalton Henry, U.S. Wheat Associates
Edward Hubbard, Renewable Fuels Association
Tina Lyons, Double River Forwarding, LLC

ATAC for Trade in Processed Foods
Kevin Latner, National Industrial Hemp Council
Richard (Denton) McLane, McLane Global Trading
Max Moncaster, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
Bernadette Wiltz, Southern United States Trade Association

ATAC for Trade in Sweeteners and Sweetener Products
(No new members.)

ATAC for Trade in Tobacco, Cotton and Peanuts
Karl Zimmer, Premium Peanut

2020-07-17T12:24:02-07:00July 17th, 2020|

California Table Grape Growers Award Scholarships

California’s table grape growers recently awarded scholarships to nine students in grape growing regions of the state. All recipients will be attending California universities or community colleges.

Six field worker scholarships were awarded: three for $25,000 for four years of university study and three for $14,500 for study at a combination of community college and university. Recipients may study any field. Three agricultural scholarships were awarded as well: each for $25,000 for four years of university study in an agriculturally related field.

For 35 years California table grape growers have funded college scholarships through the California Table Grape Commission. More than 160 students have received scholarships to attend college.

$25,000 Four-Year Field Worker Scholarships

Mr. Jared Bautista is a graduate of South High School in
Bakersfield. Jared graduated with a 4.5 weighted grade point
average (GPA) and his SAT score of 1,300 placed him in the 91st
percentile nationally. Jared was a member of the school cross
country and track teams. Jared will attend University of California,
Berkeley in the fall where he will major in civil engineering with a
goal of becoming a civil engineer.

Jared Bautista

Ms. Nerin Delgado is a graduate of McFarland High School in
McFarland. Nerin graduated with 4.4 weighted GPA and her SAT
score of 1,350 placed her in the 94th percentile nationally. Nerin
was a member of the associated student body board and was the
varsity golf captain. Nerin will attend University of California, Los
Angeles, where she will major in human biology with a career goal
of becoming a radiologist.

Nerin Delgado

Ms. Georgina Rodriguez Mendez is a graduate of Robert F.
Kennedy High School in Delano. Georgina graduated with a 4.53
weighted GPA and her ACT score of 31 placed her in the 95st
percentile nationally. Georgina was the senior class vice president
and a co-captain of the girls’ varsity soccer team. Georgina will
attend University of California, Los Angeles, where she will major in
mathematics with a career goal of becoming a math teacher.
California Table Grape Growers Award Scholarships

Georgina Rodriguez Mendez

$14,500 Bridge Field Worker Scholarships

Ms. Glarisa Perales is a graduate of Cesar E. Chavez High School in
Delano. Glarisa graduated with a 3.51 weighted GPA and participated
in the national organization “Family, Career, and Community Leaders
of America.” Glarisa will attend Bakersfield College and will pursue a
career as an elementary school teacher.

Glarisa Perales

Ms. Diana Robledo is a graduate of Bakersfield High School. Diana
graduated with a weighted GPA of 3.83. Diana was the vice president
of the Advancement Via Individual Determination club, a three year
member of Future Farmers of America (FFA), and volunteers at the
Bakersfield Homeless Shelter, preparing and serving meals. Diana will
attend Bakersfield College and has a career goal of becoming a

Diana Robledo

Ms. Rebecca Santoyo is a graduate of Porterville High School. Rebecca
graduated with a 4.11 weighted GPA. Rebecca is a member of the
school concert choir and volunteers many hours in the community for
various groups. Rebecca will attend Porterville College and has a
career goal of becoming a pediatrician or pediatric nurse.

Rebecca Santoyo

$25,000 Agricultural Scholarships

Ms. Alissa Amaral is a graduate of Tulare Union High School. Alissa
graduated with a 4.18 weighted GPA. Alissa was a member of FFA, where
she won numerous awards. Alissa was also the president and a lifetime
member of the California Scholastic Federation and volunteered many
hours in the community including the American Cancer Society and Toys
for Tots. Alissa will attend Fresno State University where she will major in
agricultural business with a career goal of becoming an agricultural
marketing specialist.

Alissa Amaral

Mr. Dale Fransen is a graduate of Selma High School. Dale graduated
with a 4.19 weighted GPA. Dale scored a 1,490 on the SAT, placing him
in the 99th percentile nationally. Dale is a member of the local, state, and
national FFA and is an Eagle Scout. Dale will attend Fresno State
University where he will major in agricultural education with a goal of
becoming an agriculture teacher.

Dale Fransen

Ms. Amy Swall is a graduate of Mission Oak High School in Tulare. Amy
graduated with a 3.83 weighted GPA. Amy is the regional president of
FFA where she has won multiple awards, a member of the Mission Oak
varsity tennis team that won the 2019 California Interscholastic
Federation Divisional title, and a member of the varsity soccer team as
well. Amy will attend Fresno State University where she will major in
agricultural communications with a goal of working in agricultural

Amy Swall
2020-07-09T15:56:42-07:00July 9th, 2020|

Should Farmers Meter Their Pumps Now– in Terms of SGMA?

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

With the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) closing in on growers throughout California, there are many questions. One big one is that should growers go ahead and put a meter on their pumps? Helping the farming industry comply with SGMA is Chris Johnson, who owns Aegis Groundwater Consulting, based in Fresno. He’s recommending that growers put a flow meter on their pumps, but he does understand their hesitation.

“I think they’re concerned about what’s going to happen if they provide a mechanism where someone can come out and actually measure, record and evaluate how much water they’re using, that somehow that’s going to go against them,” said Johnson. “And the reality of it is, is that somebody might very well do that but they’re better off knowing that going in, they’re better off understanding and being able to manage and represent for themselves upfront.”

It may be a good idea to meter pumps now.

Now, currently we have the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, which have finalized the Groundwater Sustainability Plans.  “The Groundwater Sustainability Plans are the deliverable that the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies are tasked with. But you have to understand the scarcity of data we actually have to work with, to actually be able to make decisions,” said Johnson. “And as a consequence, what so many different GSAs are forced to do is to either accept existing data at face value, or they’re having to interpret what the data might be in the absence of actual functional information. And so, it may very well misrepresent what the basin as a whole is having to go through, and they may put restrictions on farmers and growers based on that. And so, that is where having your own data helps you defend your water use, helps you protect yourself.”

<PATRICK: I believe the online version of this article ended here.  I would support that, in that the preceding text focuses on the importance of having specific data for individual wells.  The following text is more a soliloquy on GSP’s and data gathering and validity.

Johnson explains what will happen when the sustainability plans are in place in 2020. “I think what will happen is once the GSPs are filed with the Department of Water Resources, there’s going to be a period of reflection where people are looking at the adequacy of information supporting the plans. There’s going to be outside parties that question the adequacy of the data and plans, and ultimately out of that will come the next step, which is, ‘Okay, now we have these in place, we know there are a lot of shortcomings.’ Let’s go fill in those gaps. Let’s go get this data together,” said Johnson. I think that most of the regulatory agencies recognize there are data gaps. Let’s just work through the process is there thinking.

“Let’s get ourselves to where we can now start collecting the data. So, in theory, what we’re going to see is over the next 20 years a refinement in all of this, as more information is available, as scientists and engineers get to provide analysis to the policy makers, we end up with a better product in the end,” Johnson noted.

But will that product be good for the growers? “That’s a difficult question to answer because better in the end is leading us towards answering a question with, you’ll have as much water as you want. Well, that’s unlikely to happen,” Johnson said.

“I think there’s going to be significant changes in how we grow things in the Central Valley. The consequence of that may be everything from less food coming out of the Central Valley and/or higher food prices as these businesses attempt to maintain some degree of solubility, so to speak, financially, trying to meet these limited resource. Because that’s essentially what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re coming back and saying : Something bad happened. Now, we’re going to limit this resource.”

The agricultural industry throughout California keeps pushing that it’s too important, we have to provide food for the nation and the world. “I think the more important way to look at this is, is that California can’t afford to have ag fail. And as a consequence, we have to find a means to meet all these different demands and do so in a way that helps keep ag moving forward. It just probably won’t look like what it does today,” he said.

2020-07-07T09:18:53-07:00July 7th, 2020|

Farmer Equity Act – Part 2


Farmer Equity Act Build’s Diversity


By Tim Hammerich, with the AgInformation Network

The California Department of Food and Agriculture recently released the first annual report on the Farmer Equity Act that was passed back in 2017. CDFA Secretary Karen Ross explains the importance of this initiative.

“So this is going to be a forever program, as far as I know. It’s a requirement now in statute. It’s something that we at CDFA are eager to do. And I think it’s critically important that we are every day thinking about inclusivity and equity throughout our farming community, and that has never been more evident than this past month in particular, Secretary Ross

And so this is work that we’re eager to do, that anything we can do to help the diversity of our ag community thrive at all scales with all different business models will be successful for all of agriculture. That’s our strength. Diversity is our strength. We know that in our biological systems, that diversity helps bring resilience. And I think that’s an important part for our community of farmers as well,” said Secretary Ross.

For more resources for socially disadvantaged farmers, visit the CDFA website.

2020-07-06T08:20:18-07:00July 6th, 2020|

Farm Equity Act – Part 1

All California Farmers Must Have Access  to the Same Resources

By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network

The California Department of Food and Agriculture recently released the first annual report on the Farmer Equity Act. CDFA Secretary Karen Ross explains some of the key priority areas.

“Land tenure, especially for many of these farmers. They’re small scale. They are renting land because we know the cost of land is a barrier for new beginning farmers, regardless of what your ethnicity is, understanding that and what that means,” noted Secretary Ross

“Language: making sure that we’re providing as much of our services and program content in multiple languages if possible. Engagement with the agricultural industry, as well as being engaged with advisory boards and our marketing orders and commissions. And then how do we facilitate access to resources,” Secretary Ross said.

“The vast majority of resources are going to be USDA programs, but we’re an important partner with USDA. So what are we doing to make sure the word is out? And then how do we think through our own resources, especially around climate smart agriculture, as one example. And other grant programs that we might have, or that our sister agencies might have. Are we being very intentional, very thoughtful to make sure that we’re making those connections,” Secretary Ross explained.

2020-07-07T09:43:32-07:00July 3rd, 2020|

Editorial on Delta Tunnel Project

A Social Justice Perspective on the Delta Tunnel Project

By Gary Kremen

As California confronts increasing water challenges, the most equitable statewide solution from a social justice perspective is the single-tunnel project proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, known as the Delta Conveyance Project.

More than 27 million Californians rely on imported drinking water conveyed through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This imported water also serves millions of acres of local agricultural lands and vital wildlife refuges.

The reliability of that imported water supply is threatened by a variety of risks, including climate change, sea level rise, increasing regulatory restrictions, seismic risks and deteriorating ecosystem conditions. The Delta Conveyance Project will help address many of these threats.

The project proposes the construction of a single tunnel that would provide an alternative conveyance pathway for moving water from the north Delta to the existing pumping plants in the south Delta. The addition of intakes in the north Delta would allow operational flexibility to adjust to where fish are at a given time and protect our water supply from saltwater intrusion.

This enhanced flexibility will reduce the number of fish that end up in the existing pumping plants. The project includes state-of-the-art fish screens that minimize the number of fish impacted by water diversions. The project would improve water management for California communities, farms, fish and wildlife.

Scientists have predicted that climate change will result in more spring runoff and less snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. There is not enough storage to capture this additional runoff.  Having the ability to rapidly move water south cushions inevitable climate change effects.

The levees that make up California’s water distribution system in the Delta are not engineered to withstand major earthquakes. There is a high probability of a major earthquake within the next 25 years which could cause catastrophic levee failure, which would result in seawater inundation, interrupting fresh-water deliveries to more than 27 million people.  COVID-19 demonstrates that unexpected disasters happen.

In a catastrophic levee failure, who stands to be hurt the most? Not the affluent, as we have seen in this COVID-19 crisis; they have second homes, alternative sources of food and access to health care. It would hurt poor, working class and middle-class people the worst.

The alternatives to not having a tunnel are grim, especially given California’s excellent record on conservation and its growing population. One viable option is ocean desalination.  However, the same NIMBYs who don’t like the tunnel don’t like desalination. Maybe their ocean views will be impeded? For those few water districts near the ocean, the cost of desalination is at least three times the cost of the water yield from the tunnel.

Why not recycled wastewater? All over California there are ambitious recycling programs. The cost of recycled water, like desalination, is at least three times more expensive than water from the tunnel. Depending on expensive water sources exclusively would disproportionately hurt low-income families.

Reduced water to Central Valley agriculture would mean higher prices for food, higher carbon footprint from food importation and decreased food security. Higher food prices disparately affect those who are poor and vulnerable. It is well documented that the transportation related pollution for importing food especially damages communities of color.

Opponents of a tunnel project never say their position will lead to higher water prices and reduced water reliability, which leads to higher food prices, and can even lead to class-based disparities in health outcomes.  Other opponents seemingly promote the protection of endangered species, while others seek to ocean harvest the same species with fishing practices that kill whales.  Real estate speculation by some opponents of the project isn’t helping the health of the Delta.

Water agencies statewide have done an excellent job of becoming more water efficient while supplying water to a growing state population and keeping the environment healthy. For these reasons, the Delta Conveyance Project will further California’s goal of achieving water justice.

Gary Kremen is elected to the Santa Clara Valley Water District board of directors and is vice chairman of the Delta Conveyance Finance Authority, He wrote this commentary for CalMatters.



2020-06-30T08:08:25-07:00June 30th, 2020|
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