State Water Deliveries to Surge — Highest in 6 Years

By Alastair Bland, Cal Matters

State officials announced today that water deliveries from the state’s aqueduct will be increased to 30%, the highest amount for January that growers and Southern California cities have received in six years.

Less than two months ago, amid forecasts of a third consecutive drought year, the California Department of Water Resources announced an initial allocation of just 5% of the supplies requested from its State Water Project, which transports Northern California water south.

But recent storms have boosted the reservoirs, snowpack and river flows that feed the state aqueduct. Never in the 27 years of records has such a poor initial estimate been followed by such a rapid, dramatic jump.

About 27 million people, mostly in Southern California, and 750,000 acres of farmland depend on water provided by the State Water Project.

“Thanks to the water captured and stored from recent storms, the state is increasing deliveries to local agencies that support two-thirds of Californians – good news for communities and farms in the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “We’ll keep pushing to modernize our water infrastructure to take advantage of these winter storms and prepare communities for the climate-driven extremes of wet and dry ahead.”

The first projection for 2023 water deliveries came on Dec. 1, when things looked very different in the dynamic interplay between California drought, water supplies and weather forecasting. At the time, Lake Oroville — the project’s largest reservoir — was 27% full, containing less than a million acre-feet of water. Weather experts were meanwhile predicting another winter of predominantly blue skies and light precipitation.

Things quickly changed when a series of powerful storms soaked the state for weeks early this year. The wet weather has boosted Oroville to 63% of its total capacity and 110% of its historical average for this date. The reservoir contained 2.19 million acre-feet of water as of Jan. 26, and, like others throughout the state, it continues to rise.

Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth said the increased deliveries don’t mean the state will see a wet year.

“We are still early in the season,” she said, adding that “things have turned dry again.” She also said the increased deliveries are a result of more reservoir storage and doesn’t fully take into account increases in Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is now more than double its historic average for January.

Allocations for January often are revised up or down later in the year, after spring runoff is measured. Usually, the final allocation increases. For instance, in June 2019, water deliveries reached 75% after starting the year at 15%.

The last time that water deliveries so early in the year exceeded the 30% was before the current drought, back in 2017 — when a record-breaking, 5-year drought ended, rainfall almost broke state records, and deliveries reached 60%. The last three years were dismal, with allocations between 5 and 20%.  The last time the local agencies got 100% was in 2006.

For the Las Virgenes Water District, which serves about 75,000 people in northern Los Angeles County and gets all of its water from the state aqueduct, the new allocation recasts what was a very grim outlook on water supplies for 2023.

“Mother Nature is giving us a chance to catch our breath,” said Mike McNutt, a Las Virgenes spokesman.

The district enforced stiff regulations on outdoor watering last year, including the use of restrictors, which are small washers inserted into pipes, into the homes of repeat violators of water conservation rules.

Dave Pedersen, the district’s general manager, said the increased deliveries will “soften some of the harshest water restrictions.” But he added that water conservation will remain a long-term goal, with a focus on replacing lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping.

2023-01-27T11:00:06-08:00January 27th, 2023|

Friant Water Authority Welcomes New Board Officers for the 2023-2024 Term

By Alex Biering, Friant Water Authority

Three new Board Officers will assume leadership roles during the January 30 Friant Water Authority (FWA) Board of Directors meeting. Jim Erickson of Madera Irrigation District, who just finished a term as Board Secretary/Treasurer, was elected Chairman; Rick Borges of Tulare Irrigation District and Josh Pitigliano of Lower Tule River Irrigation District will serve as Vice Chair and Secretary/Treasurer, respectively. Their terms will continue through the end of 2024.

“As a director representing farmers who receive their Friant Division water supplies from the Madera Canal, I’m moved by the Board’s decision to elect me Chairman,” said Chairman Erickson. “Their confidence in my ability to provide leadership on behalf of all Friant Contractors, regardless of how they receive their supply from Millerton Lake, underscores the strength and unity of the Friant family.”

Director Erickson was born, raised, and still lives on the original home ranch his great-grandfather bought in 1924 in Madera. He has more than 40 years of experience in the agricultural field and currently runs his family’s farming operations with his sons. He is also a second-generation director for the Madera Irrigation District.

Director Borges is a fourth-generation farmer in Tulare, and his son Greg is the fifth generation working on the family’s farm. He also previously served as a director for the Friant Water Users Authority, FWA’s predecessor, and serves as a director for the Tulare Irrigation Company, Kaweah and St. Johns Rivers Association, and Kaweah Basin Water Quality Association.

Director Pitigliano is a fourth-generation farmer and works alongside his father and two brothers. Their diversified farm and farm management business is spread across multiple irrigation districts. He previously served as chairman of the Tulare County Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and later as a director on the Tulare County Farm Bureau board.

In addition to Director Erickson’s change in office, two other 2022/2023 Board officers – Chairman Cliff Loeffler of Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District, and Vice Chair Edwin Camp of Arvin-Edison Water Storage District – will remain in an advisory role on the Board and as members of its Executive Committee.

“Directors Loeffler and Camp presided over some of the most exciting but tumultuous times in the Friant Division’s history,” said Chief Executive Officer Jason Phillips. “There’s no question that their leadership was crucial to the success of the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project and also kept us united during the ‘calls’ on water stored in Millerton Lake by the Exchange Contractors. We were also fortunate to have Director Erickson as part of that leadership group, and are likewise grateful that he’ll serve as Chairman.”

2023-01-12T12:46:09-08:00January 12th, 2023|

Porse Named Director of California Institute for Water Resources

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR

Erik Porse joined the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources on Jan. 11 as director of the California Institute for Water Resources.

Porse has built an outstanding career in water as a research engineer with the Office of Water Programs at California State University, Sacramento and an assistant adjunct professor with UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. His research focuses on urban and water resources management. He specializes in bringing together interdisciplinary teams to investigate complex environmental management questions.

Porse earned a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering (water resources) from UC Davis and a master’s degree in public policy (science and technology) from George Mason University. His professional experience includes international work and teaching in Mexico, Europe, Japan and East Africa. He has authored over 50 reports and peer-reviewed articles.

“UC ANR is fortunate to have a director with broad professional experience in science and policy at the United Nations, the U.S. government, private sector firms and research laboratories,” said Deanne Meyer, UC ANR interim associate vice president for programs and strategic initiatives. “Erik’s recent research has collaborated with scientists and projects addressing priority areas in the California Water Resilience Portfolio, including safe drinking water, efficient urban water use, sustainable groundwater management, water reuse, beneficial uses of stormwater, and environmental finance.”

The CIWR is the California hub of the national network of water research institutes supported by the federal Water Resources Research Act of 1964 and provides and communicates solutions to complex water issues and will serve a critical role to support applied water research that tackles large problems with systems approaches, including groundwater recharge, water rights, irrigation management, water finance, and drinking water access. The CIWR works with scientists throughout California as well as through the national network to bring defensible solutions and alternatives to California’s water management community.

“Water is a necessity for life and management of water is essential for California’s economy and prosperity,” Meyer said. “Porse’s leadership with multidisciplinary research teams, water policy research, and integrated systems modeling will serve the CIWR and ANR for years to come.”

Porse succeeds Doug Parker, who retired in 2022 after 11 years as CIWR director.

2023-01-11T14:22:57-08:00January 11th, 2023|

Mating Disruption for Damaging Insects Advances

By Thomas Grandperrin of UAV-IQ Precision Agriculture

Mating disruption is being used for a vast number of pests around the world. In the United States, and more specifically in the California-Pacific Northwest area, the primary mating disruption products used in nut systems are for navel orangeworm (NOW) and codling moth (a
walnut pest affecting apple and pear orchards).

Working on mating disruption and other biological control strategies is Emily Symmes an entomologist currently working as a senior manager of technical field services at Suterra, a puffer pheromone device that delivers the Suterra pheromone, with the chemistry to lower damage from Navel Orangeworm, Codling Moth, Oriental Fruit Moth, and other agricultural pests.

Prior to her work with Suterra, Symmes was an area integrated pest management (IPM) advisor in the Sacramento Valley as part of the University of California (UC) Cooperative Extension system. In addition, she served as the associate director of agriculture for the UC statewide IPM program, where she participated in their online pest management guidelines and coordination of their IPM advisors statewide.

While Symmes’s main focus during her career has been on the nut crops, namely almonds, walnuts, and pistachios, it increasingly spread to other systems for which both mating disruption and monitoring tools are used: grapes, citrus, pome, and stone fruits.

Symmes is focused on mating disruption in California orchards. And some advice on the use of insect traps and expressed her opinion on the future of augmentative biological control in nut cropping systems. Mating disruption, an increasingly popular tool in nut crops systems

Symmes expands on the principle of mating disruption, “The mode of action is to block the male’s ability to find the calling female. As a grower, you want to get the pheromones in the environment whenever that mating is active.

“You’re not going to have a knockdown effect like you would with a contact insecticide where you would expect your trap numbers to go way down the week following a spray because you’ve had this contact lethal impact. What you’re doing is blocking matings and you’ll see the impacts in the subsequent generations,” she said. “That’s how all mating disruption works, by reducing population growth rate, which in turn can also allow other inputs like insecticides and biological control to have a greater impact in preventing crop damage.”

Depending on the crops, orchard characteristics, and grower preferences, there are different “platforms” or ways that growers can get the mating disruption pheromone blends into the environment.

For growers and PCAs in the nut systems, aerosol-based Puffers are probably the most recognizable technology used to deploy the pheromones. We also have a microencapsulated sprayable formulation, which can be timed more specifically to certain insect flights and used throughout the year.

Then we’ve got dispensers that usually look like small cards and are hand applied. Depending on the pest, we have one or more available platforms. For example, for navel orangeworm, we have both an aerosol and a sprayable. For codling moth, we have an aerosol Puffer, a
sprayable, and a dispenser platform.

Mating disruption is a tool that should be used in a more holistic approach to farming which integrates multiple practices and techniques. Leveraging and preserving naturally occurring enemies (also called conservation biological control) or releasing commercially reared ones
(often called augmentative biological control) are some of those additional practices. “When it comes to the nut crops in recent history, practices have really centered around a conservation biological control approach,” said Symmes.

This starts by monitoring and identifying the biological control agents naturally occurring in the field and the impact they are having on their targeted pests. Then it is important to know how to preserve them by minimizing insecticide inputs, choosing selective chemistries, and applying them in a manner to minimize detrimental impacts on natural enemies.

UAV-IQ is helping organic and conventional growers implement biocontrol in an efficient and cost-effective manner by using drones to release beneficial insects exactly when and where they’re needed to suppress pests.

When trying to limit reliance on conventional pesticides, it is fundamental to take a more holistic approach and understand how to integrate all of the different tools available to develop a successful pest management program. Mating disruption is a proven technology that has gained a lot of popularity over the world in the past few years and is highly complementary to augmentative biological control.

2023-01-10T14:23:43-08:00January 10th, 2023|

Westlands Water District Names Jose Gutierrez as Interim General Manager

The Westlands Water District (District) Board of Directors named Jose Gutierrez as the District’s Interim General Manager starting January 1, 2023. Mr. Gutierrez has been with the District since 2012 and currently serves as the District’s Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Gutierrez is a registered civil engineer and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and Masters degree in civil/environmental engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

“Gutierrez has the skillset and historical knowledge to help lead the District during this transition,” said Jeff Fortune, Board President, Westlands Water District.

“I’m honored the Board entrusted me to serve as Interim General Manager and will work diligently to ensure Westlands continues to deliver reliable water and high-quality service to our water users so they can continue to grow the crops that feed the nation and the world,” said Jose Gutierrez.

Mr. Gutierrez will share responsibility for managing the District activities with Jon Rubin, the District’s Assistant General Manager & General Counsel. Both Mr. Gutierrez and Mr. Rubin will work closely with the Board.

As the Interim General Manager, Mr. Gutierrez will be responsible for the operations and administration of the District and will manage efforts intended to improve storage and conveyance of the District’s surface and groundwater supplies.

Mr. Rubin, in his capacity as the Assistant General Manager, will be responsible for the District’s policy efforts, external engagement, and strategic water initiatives for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta. Mr. Rubin, in his capacity as General Counsel, will continue to be responsible for the District’s legal affairs. Shelley Cartwright, the District’s Deputy General Manager- External Affairs, will continue to engage in the District’s policy efforts and oversee the District’s Federal & State legislative affairs, public affairs, and outreach and education efforts.

The District will begin a formal search for a regular General Manager at the start of the new year.

2022-12-21T10:13:55-08:00December 21st, 2022|

New Board President and New Board Members

By Elizabeth Jonasson, Westlands Water District

Today, the Westlands Water District Board of Directors appointed Jeff Fortune as president of the District. Mr. Fortune succeeds Ryan Ferguson. Mr. Fortune is a third generation California farmer and second generation Westlands farmer. He is a “boots on the ground” farmer with more than four decades of farming experience. Mr. Fortune works alongside his father and two brothers at their family farm growing tomatoes, almonds, and pistachios.

At the Special Board Meeting today, Mr. Fortune was joined by four new Board members who were elected to the Board in November: Ernie B. Costamagna, Justin Diener, Donald Ross Franson III, and Jeremy Hughes. Each new Board member will serve a four-year term.

Ernie Costamagna is a third generation family farmer in California. He began farming in Westland’s in the 1980’s. His farming operation is comprised of nuts, wine grapes, cherries, garlic, onions, cotton and processing tomatoes. He is a resident of Hanford CA with his wife and has 7 children.

Justin Diener continues to work in the same area his family began farming in the 1930s. Mr. Diener, with his family, grows processing tomatoes, garlic, almonds, and lemons and raises lambs. Mr. Diener is responsible for the financial management of his family’s farming operation. He is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in Economics with Honors. Before returning to the farming operation, Mr. Diener spent more than a decade of his career working for JP Morgan Securities, Wells Fargo Bank, and Bank of the West. Mr. Diener lives in Five Points, where he was born and raised, with his wife and daughter.

Ross Franson’s family has farmed in Westlands since the District’s formation in 1952. Mr. Franson currently serves as VP of Strategy at his family business, Woolf Farming & Processing, which grows almonds, pistachios, tomatoes, and other row crops. His family business also operates almond and tomato processing facilities within the District. Over the years Mr. Franson has served on various agricultural-related Boards, including Woolf Farming & Processing, Harris Woolf California Almonds, Cal-West Rain, and Aliso Water District. Mr. Franson currently resides in Fresno with his wife and three children.

Jeremy Hughes, a fifth-generation farmer, has farmed in the District for over 25 years with his family. Since his father started the operation in the mid-1970s with a one-quarter section of land, the farm has steadily increased. Mr. Hughes started the company that bears his name in 1997, farming various row crops including processing tomatoes, almonds, and pistachios. Mr. Hughes lives in Clovis with his wife and two children.

2022-12-06T08:24:31-08:00December 6th, 2022|

California Farm Bureau Reacts to Initial 5% Water Allocation

By Peter Hecht, California Farm Bureau

The California Department of Water Resources on Thursday announced an initial allocation of just 5% of requested 2023 water supplies from the State Water Project. This comes after this year and 2021 both yielded final water allocations of 5%.

“Here we go again,” said California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson. “This means that 23 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland are facing another year of uncertainty and economic hardships. California has failed to act on critical projects to provide additional water storage, stormwater capture and groundwater recharge that are needed to protect our farms and cities from water shortages in dry years.

“California’s dismal leadership in safeguarding our water resources harms our food production as consumers face rising prices at the grocery store. It also undercuts healthy crop production, which helps reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. California must have a more coherent water plan. Our drought strategy cannot solely be a policy of managing scarcity.”

2022-12-02T15:54:36-08:00December 2nd, 2022|

Western U.S. Streamflow Declines Respond Asymmetrically to Seasonal Climate Warming

National Integrated Drought Information System

Although numerous studies have previously explored streamflow responses to annual climate warming, less attention has been given to the differing effects of seasonal (winter vs. summer) warming. It is well-known, for instance, that the seasonal timing of streamflow in snow-affected river basins is strongly affected by warmer winters, which lead to less snow, more rain, and earlier runoff. What has been less understood is how the total volume of runoff changes in a warmer climate, and in particular how the total (annual) streamflow volume responds to warmer winters as contrasted with warmer summers.

To address this gap, UCLA’s Land Surface Hydrology Group examined western U.S. streamflow declines in response to climate warming and found they are expected to be asymmetric depending on the season in which most warming occurs. Cooler river basins (which are especially dependent on spring snowmelt) are more sensitive to warmer warm seasons, while warmer river basins (with less snow) are more sensitive to cool season warming. Funding for the research was provided by NIDIS and the California-Nevada Adaptation Program, a NOAA CAP/RISA team.

The results, detailed in two recent Water Resources Research papers, are based on predictions of annual streamflow changes resulting from warm (April–September) and cool (October–March) season warming in five large river basins, and 616 smaller ones, across the western United States.

“Our research shows that cooler river basins tend to have larger streamflow declines when warming occurs in the warm season than in the cool season, while the changes are reversed in warmer river basins (i.e., those with less snow). This is linked primarily to the basins’ sensitivity of evapotranspiration to temperature,” according to Zhaoxin Ban, the first author of both papers.

In the second paper, the authors analyzed 616 river basins across the western U.S. with drainage areas mostly in the range from 100 to 1000 km2. Of those 616 river basins, 44% are more sensitive to warm season than cool season warming. Those river basins are mainly inland and/or high latitude (north of 37.5°N) and (mostly) at relatively high elevations, many of which are in the northern Columbia River Basin and the Upper Colorado River Basin. About 35% show a larger sensitivity to cool season than warm season warming. They are mainly moist coastal river basins, or low-latitude, and moderately warm.

The remaining basins (about 20%) are either arid (e.g., bordering on the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, or basins that drain into the Great Basin) or cold with long snow seasons. These basins are predicted to experience annual streamflow increases for a variety of reasons, including long-term snowpack declines that result in earlier runoff occurring at a time of year when evapotranspiration is lower, or that will experience more rapid snowmelt that penetrates into the soil and eventually will reach streams rather than evaporating.

Although the study conclusions are based on model simulations, the authors also utilized observation-based estimates to evaluate their model predictions. They find that while the observation-based inferences are generally similar to their model results, the observation-based results indicate somewhat larger streamflow decreases for cool season warming than do the models, especially in moderately warm regions. The observation-based results also reflect somewhat smaller reductions in streamflow due to warm season warming than do the models, especially in cool regions. Despite these differences, the overall spatial distribution of river basins that are more sensitive to warm vs. cool season warming are similar in the model simulations and observation-based analyses.

2022-11-15T13:19:02-08:00November 15th, 2022|

UCCE Water Management Expert Helps Save Water, Increase Supply in SoCal

By Saoimanu Sope, UCANR

Earlier this year, officials in Southern California declared a water shortage emergency resulting in restrictions such as limiting outdoor water use to one day of the week. While mandatory restrictions vary across the region, Amir Haghverdi, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and associate professor of agricultural and urban water management at UC Riverside, is using research to pinpoint irrigation strategies that will help communities reduce their demand for water and increase supply.

Haghverdi and his team are responding to a hotter and drier California by working to identify changes that can make a substantial difference in water savings.

While behavioral changes such as preventing leaks and turning the faucet off while brushing teeth can help, Haghverdi’s research focuses on methodical changes like stressing green spaces, planting drought-tolerant plant species, using non-traditional water sources, and investing in technology to better control water use.

Testing a lawn’s limits

For six years, Haghverdi and his team have performed stress tests on turfgrass to identify the lowest percent of evapotranspiration rate (ETo) that it can withstand and still survive. To do this, Haghverdi’s team applies different percentages of ETo, obtained from weather stations, and monitors the performance of each landscape species over time.
While both cool-season and warm-season species can be stressed and still maintain their aesthetic value for a few weeks to several months, Haghverdi’s results showed that warm-season turfgrass species require less water and can withstand water stress better.

The actual duration that people can apply less water depends on the type of turfgrass, the weather conditions and the stress level. For example, results showed that hybrid bermudagrass (a warm-season turfgrass) during summer in inland Southern California could keep its aesthetic value above the minimum threshold for 30 to 50 days, depending on the weather conditions, with irrigation application as low as 40% ETo.

In contrast, tall fescue, a cool-season turfgrass, even with 20% more water, showed signs of stress after only a few weeks and could not maintain its minimum acceptable quality.

Plant drought-tolerant species

Haghverdi’s work demonstrates that when water conservation is the goal, alternative groundcover species are clearly superior to all turfgrass species and cultivars that they have tested so far. In fact, his team has identified drought-tolerant species that can maintain their aesthetic values with a third to a quarter less water than cool-season turfgrass (as low as 20% ETo) and can even withstand no-irrigation periods.

Furthermore, extensive field trials showed that new plant species from different regions could be as resilient as native species in withstanding drought and heat stress while maintaining their aesthetic beauty and cool canopy. Occasionally, they have outperformed native species, underscoring the advantages of drought- and heat-tolerant species that are non-native.
Based on Haghverdi’s preliminary results for minimum irrigation requirement in inland Southern California, creeping Australian saltbush, a non-native species originally from Australia, and coyote bush, native to California, were top performers. Considering cooling benefits, drought tolerance and sensitivity to over-irrigation, creeping Australian saltbush performed the best.
Ph.D. students Anish Sapkota and Jean Claude Iradukunda collect plant physiological data to understand how native and non-native irrigated groundcover species respond to periods of water stress and limited irrigation applications in inland Southern California.

Counties are already using recycled water

Although he recommends renewing your landscape with drought-tolerant or low-water use greenery and identifying how long your green spaces can live without water, Haghverdi acknowledges that, while contradictory, the cooling benefits of landscape irrigation are essential in Southern California.

“This is one of the tradeoffs of water conservation,” said Haghverdi. “If the only goal is to conserve water, maybe people will conclude that we don’t have enough water to irrigate landscape.”

Water conservation efforts could influence counties to stop or reduce landscape irrigation. The consequences, however, would result in hotter environments due to the heat island effect. The loss of landscapes means that the sun’s energy will be absorbed into the ground, instead of prompting transpiration in plants, which helps keep environments cool.

Thus, stressing green spaces and investing in drought-tolerant plant species help reduce the demand for water, but increasing water supply is just as vital. Haghverdi urges Southern California counties to prioritize a supplemental water supply such as recycled water – an approach already implemented in Ventura, Orange and San Diego counties.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Pure Water Southern California Program, formerly known as the Regional Recycled Water Program, aims to do just that. In partnership with the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, the program will further purify wastewater to produce a sustainable source of high-quality water for the region.

According to the program’s website, this would “produce up to 150 million gallons of water daily when completed and provide purified water for up to 15 million people, making it one of the largest water reuse programs in the world.”

Smart controllers save time, money and water

Making the best use of the water you already have relies on efficiency. Sprinklers that are poorly placed, for example, are not as effective as they could be.

“What I see often while walking my dog in the neighborhood is that there’s a lot of runoff, bad irrigation and bad timing like when it’s windy,” Haghverdi observed. “People usually set their irrigation timer and then forget it, but they don’t adjust it based on the season or weather parameters. That’s not going to help us conserve water, a precious resource, in California.”

Thankfully, Haghverdi and his team have done extensive research on smart irrigation controllers, which, simply put, are irrigation timers with a sensor built in. Generally, there are two types of smart irrigation controllers: weather- and soil-based controllers.

Weather-based controllers use evapotranspiration data to automatically adjust their watering schedule according to local weather conditions. Soil-based controllers measure moisture at the root zone and start irrigating whenever the reading falls below a programmed threshold.

Smart controllers that have flowmeters can detect leaks and be activated automatically, whereas rain sensors can stop irrigation during rainfall. Although both additions are ideal for large irrigation landscapes such as parks and publicly maintained green spaces, rain sensors are easy to install and effective for residential areas too.

When asked about cost being a hindrance, Haghverdi responded, “Not a lot of people know that there are grants for smart controllers – some that will pay either all or a majority of the cost.”

To check if grants are available in your area, interested individuals are encouraged to contact their local water provider.

“We need to move towards autonomous and smart irrigation [strategies], and water management in urban areas. That’s the future. If we can build autonomous cars, why can’t we build smart water management systems that apply the right amount of water to each plant species, can detect leaks and prevent water waste?” said Haghverdi.

To learn more about or stay updated on Haghverdi’s research, visit

2022-11-15T13:09:22-08:00November 15th, 2022|

Fresno-Area Women in Agriculture to Receive Support for Water Resilience and Farm Viability

By Teresa O’Connor, American Farmland Trust

American Farmland Trust, Sierra Resource Conservation District and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Services to provide local women in agriculture with technical support

Fresno-area farmers face water management and business viability challenges like never before, but financial and technical resources are available to help growers and landowners navigate these challenges. American Farmland Trust is partnering with the Sierra Resource Conservation District and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to gather women in agriculture around these issues and feature services they can lean on at a Women for the Land Learning Circle and Resource Fair on Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m in Fresno.

At this womxn*-centered gathering, growers, landowners and others involved in agriculture will be able to share experiences, while agricultural resource providers will describe local services that support the viability of agriculture and agricultural communities. The event has been co-designed with input from a broad range of partners in the region to reach a diversity of communities engaged in Fresno agriculture, according to Caitlin Joseph, AFT’s Women for the Land Program and Policy Manager. As such, multilingual resources will be provided in English, Spanish, Hmong and Punjabi, as needed.

“AFT is excited to bolster the work of local RCDs, NRCS staff and others, by partnering on this free event for women producers and landowners, applying a peer-to-peer learning model we have utilized nationally to great effect,” says Joseph. “In addition to a farm tour led by Lilian Yang, one of the region’s innovative Hmong women farmers, there will be discussions on how the drought is impacting water and land use in the San Joaquin Valley, and what is still needed to support farm viability throughout these changes. Through our Women for the Land Initiative, we have found that learning in this type of environment can really drive women farmers to take action to support their operations.”

“Sierra RCD is thrilled to offer this space for women farmers to build relationships with service providers who can help them access financial and technical resources,” says Karin Roux, District Development Manager at Sierra Resource Conservation District. “We are particularly interested in the powerful ways that AFT’s peer-to-peer learning will help women hear directly from each other on the unique challenges and successes they are experiencing farming here in the Central Valley, and receive first-hand accounts of technical and financial assistance opportunities available to improve their farms’ water efficiency and resilience.”

Start at Sierra RCD Office (10637 N. Lanes Road, Fresno, CA 93730), take bus to farm visit and return to office where lunch will be provided

When: Nov. 2, 2022; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Caitlin Joseph, Women for the Land Program and Policy Manager, AFT
Anel Trujillo, California Outreach Specialist, AFT
Vicky Espinoza, AFT and The Nature Conservancy (discussion leader)
Alyssa Flores, Water Use, Soil Health, and Conservation Planning Support Assistant, SRCD
Karin Roux, District Development, SRCD
Veronica Martinez, Community Engagement Youth and Education Program Manager, SRCD

Register at:

For multilingual assistance, contact:
Karin Roux (English) – (845) 527-6590
Anel Trujillo (Español) (559) 385-1517
Deep Singh (Pajābī) (559) 909-9962
Vila Xiong (Hmong) (559) 402-0067 ext 108

*Womxn includes women, transfeminine, and non-binary people, and anyone marginalized by misogyny or impacted by women-related issues.

2022-10-21T08:21:34-07:00October 21st, 2022|
Go to Top