Dam Release Cut Will Help Ease Flood Flow

By Steve Haugen and Randy McFarland

UNPRECEDENTED ACTION WILL BE TAKEN TONIGHT at Pine Flat Dam to reduce at least some of the flood potential that will occur in the Kings River’s valley reaches during the about-to-begin tropically-spawned warm rain event. The Kings River Water Association and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have agreed to make an extraordinary temporary reduction tonight in a major flood release already under way from the dam in the Fresno County foothills near Piedra.

Kings River Watermaster Steve Haugen said this afternoon (March 8) that the dam’s current release of 5,190 cubic feet per second (c.f.s.) (including a flood release of 3,000 c.f.s.) that is now occurring—will be reduced at midnight tonight to 1,100 c.f.s.

“This cooperative action will temporarily reduce the amount of water passing through the Kings River channel in order to better accommodate very high unregulated storm runoff flows from Mill Creek andother smaller streams that discharge into the river below the dam,” said Haugen.

The action is being taken in response to a prediction that Mill Creek flows, which have been only between 200-400 c.f.s. the past few days, will peak as a result of the looming atmospheric river rainfall at a massive level of about 18,800 c.f.s. about 2 p.m. Friday. Mill Creek flows are now forecast to be near or above 17,000 c.f.s. for 12 hours, until about 7 p.m. Friday.

Haugen said the KRWA-Corps plan calls for total Pine Flat Dam releases to be back up to 3,000 c.f.s. by 10 p.m. Thursday. However, as Mill Creek flows climb toward and fall from their peak level, the Corps of Engineers will suspend all Pine Flat releases into the river except 50 c.f.s. of fish-flow water.

Even though the temporary release reductions are expected to cause fairly abrupt short-term declines in the Kings River’s downstream flow amounts, water levels will quickly build back up, possibly to considerably higher levels, as the high water from Mill Creek and other lower foothill streams enter the river, and as releases are resumed from Pine Flat Dam.

Even with these unusual arrangements, Haugen said, Kings River water levels will be dangerously high with local flooding likely. Everyone living or having property near the river of any stream needs to be on alert to these emergency conditions, he added. Emergency services agencies in Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties are working closely with Kings River interests to be ready to meet needs.

2023-03-09T13:08:30-08:00March 9th, 2023|

Statement on the Bureau of Reclamation’s Initial 2023 Water Supply Allocation for the Friant Division

By Alex Biering

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced that initial water supply allocations for the Friant Division contractors and the San Joaquin River Restoration Program. Friant Division Class 1 contractors will receive 100% of their contract supplies from Millerton Lake, equivalent to 800,000 acre-feet of water; Friant Division Class 2 contractors will begin with a 20% allocation, representing about 234,000 acre-feet. The San Joaquin River Restoration Program will receive a “wet year” allocation of about 556,500 acre-feet of water to support habitat and spawning conditions for returning salmon. Coming on the heels of three dry years (two of which required releases from Friant Dam to meet Exchange Contractor demands), these allocations are excellent news for the communities and farms in the Friant Division and on the eastside, as well as for the river restoration effort which had to halt flows last year due to the drought. We are encouraged by Reclamation’s confidence in water availability for the 2023 water year and appreciate the early allocation announcement, as it helps farmers and water managers plan for planting crops or implementing recharge projects throughout the remainder of the season.

2023-02-23T15:11:15-08:00February 23rd, 2023|

Westlands Water District Responds to Central Valley Project Initial Water Allocation

By Elizabeth Jonasson

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) announced the initial water allocation for Central Valley Project (CVP) water. Reclamation allocated Westlands Water District (Westlands) and similarly situation contractors 35% of the water the districts are entitled to under their contracts.

In response to the announcement, Jose Gutierrez, the District’s interim general manager, issued the following statement:

“We are grateful for a 35% allocation and thank the dedicated staff at Reclamation, who worked hard to allocate as much water as feasible to the water users who have survived on a 0% allocation for the past two years. The past two years of 0% resulted in over 223,000 acres, approximately 36% of the District’s farmland, being fallowed in Westlands. An adequate and reliable supply of surface water is critical to the viability of the communities and farms in the San Joaquin Valley and their ability to feed the world. We are hopeful that precipitation continues to fall and are appreciative of the initial allocation from Reclamation.”

This year’s initial allocation demonstrates the critical and urgent need to invest in water storage and conveyance infrastructure. California must do a better job capturing water during wet periods, like those we experienced at the end of December and beginning of January. Modernizing our decades old federal and state storage and conveyance systems and improving local and regional infrastructure are important steps. The District continues to pursue, support, and implement balanced solutions that protect and restore the water supplies needed by the families that live and work in and around the District. The District is committed to ensuring every drop of water available is put to good use, including for California’s precious ecosystems.

2023-02-23T08:41:59-08:00February 23rd, 2023|


The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) has issued a statement in response to
today’s initial water allocation announcement of 35% for the Central Valley Project (CVP) by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

President Ian LeMay stated, “After two years of receiving an initial 0% allocation, the California Fresh Fruit Association and our members are grateful for the 35% that will go to the Central Valley Project contract holders. Having a reliable water supply is critical for our members to continue to be able to grow fresh fruit for our nation. However, after experiencing significant rainfall in December and January, it has been made even more apparent California’s need for improvements to our storage and conveyance infrastructure, as well as changes to the regulations that manage our water systems. I cannot help but wonder how much higher this allocation could have been with the ability to capture more water during the wet periods.”

CFFA will continue to advocate for needed changes to water regulations, along with additional water conveyance and infrastructure solutions at the federal and state levels to ensure that our members are able to provide the freshest fruit to the nation and world.

2023-02-23T07:44:21-08:00February 23rd, 2023|

Water Board Grants Lamont District $25.4 Million to Secure Safe Drinking Water for 20,000 Residents

Project will consolidate systems of two severely disadvantaged communities

By Dimitri Stanich, California Water Boards

In Kern County today, the State Water Resources Control Board joined Lamont Public Utility District and elected representatives to celebrate a $25.4 million grant the utility is receiving from the board’s Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) drinking water program – which has to date invested over $65 million in the county since 2019. The grant announced today will allow the consolidation of the historically failing water systems serving Lamont and El Adobe Property Owners’ Association to create a new, upgraded system that will supply safe and affordable water to over 20,000 residents.

“This is the result of many years of hard work—coordinating separate authorities and overcoming many challenges to craft a feasible solution that will provide safe and affordable drinking water,” said Nichole Morgan, member of the State Water Board. “But through the sheer determination, cooperation and goodwill of all involved, Lamont PUD now has a sound plan and the means to build a drinking water system that will serve this community for generations to come.”

The project includes drilling three new drinking water wells, the destruction of three 45-year-old wells—that exceeded the state Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) for arsenic and 1,2,3-trichloropropane— and the construction of a new water distribution system for El Adobe, which currently has elevated levels of arsenic. El Adobe will be connected to Lamont PUD through the installation of a 10-inch transmission main and water meters.

“For us, this is monumental. We have never received assistance of this magnitude in our 80-year existence,” said Scott Taylor, general manager of Lamont PUD. “The grant helps us make critical repairs and upgrades to our system so that we can reliably provide safe and affordable drinking water for our customers and El Adobe as well. Both Lamont and El Adobe are severely disadvantaged communities and our customers are mostly agricultural workers. This never would have been possible without the board’s funding and technical support through the SAFER program.”

In Kern County, where Lamont is located, 14 other projects consolidating more than 50 systems, including two schools, are currently being developed through SAFER. Since it was launched in July 2019, the program has invested over $65 million in the county for a variety of drinking water projects that will ultimately benefit 212,000 people. Statewide, 95 consolidations have been completed, providing 78,000 people with safe drinking water.

SAFER uses a set of tools, funding sources and regulatory authorities designed to ensure Californians who currently lack safe and affordable drinking water receive it as quickly as possible. Funding provided through the program is drawn from various drinking water funding sources. The grant awarded for this project is comprised of funding for drinking water infrastructure authorized in the 2021-22 state budget and Proposition 68.

Lamont PUD anticipates it will begin construction this summer.

2023-02-13T15:28:56-08:00February 13th, 2023|

CDFA Accepting Public Comments on the Draft Request for Applications for the New Water Efficiency Technical Assistance Program

By Steve Lyle, California Department of Food and Agriculture

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation (OEFI) is accepting public comments on the draft request for Applications for the Water Efficiency Technical Assistance (WETA) program.

The Budget Act of 2021 allocated $15 million to CDFA to support water efficiency technical assistance to California farmers. Resource Conservation Districts, non-profit organizations, universities, and California and federally recognized tribes will be eligible to receive technical assistance funding. Supported activities will include providing one-on-one, on-site pump and irrigation system evaluations and providing training regarding water efficiency and nutrient management.

“Although we’ve just come through a period of storms and rain, we know that overall California is still in a water deficit from the drought we’ve been experiencing for the last few years,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “CDFA is excited to offer resources for farmers and ranchers to continue to improve water efficiency for a future that will be hotter and drier with increased evapotranspiration.”

Stakeholders are encouraged to review the Draft Request for Applications for the Water Efficiency Technical Assistance Program and estimated program timeline on the Technical Assistance website  and submit comments by February 9, 2023, 5 PM PT to cdfa.oefi@cdfa.ca.gov.

2023-02-01T14:45:25-08:00February 1st, 2023|

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|
Go to Top