Irrigation Industry Needs Help

Promoting Efficient Irrigation

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

What will affect the irrigation industry in the future? California Ag Today asks Brent Mecham, the industry development director with the Irrigation Association located in Fairfax, Virginia. Promoting effective irrigation is important.

“I work on the things that are going to affect our industry or the future and trying to position ourselves so we can continue to promote efficient irrigation,” Mecham said.

His occupation includes working on codes and standards, new technologies, technical programs, and educational programs. This is becoming popular among policymakers.

Everyone in the world is benefiting from irrigation. Everybody in the world is benefiting from water whether they know it or not.

“It’s something that affects everybody’s life, and they will not notice it until there’s no lettuce for your salad or no tomatoes. So irrigation affects people all around the world,” Mecham said.

There is more demand on water resources in property. Irrigation is very important for a state like California.

“There is more demand on water resources than ever before, and a lot of places where it is very sensitive, like in California, and the water shortages are becoming prevalent,” Mecham explained.

Farmers have been doing their part to be more profitable in their operations. Cities, too, need to do their part to prevent water running down gutters, which is not efficient.

Interior Secretary Zinke Agrees: Sacramento Water Grab “Unacceptable”

Zinke Directs Staff to Propose New Plan

News Release

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s visit to Don Pedro and New Melones Reservoirs at the request of U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) continues to yield results for the Valley, with Secretary Zinke issuing an internal memo Friday declaring the state’s proposed water grab an “unacceptable restriction” that reduces the Department of the Interior’s ability to deliver water and directing his agencies to propose a plan within 25 days to maximize water supply, construct new water storage, and resolve issues with the state, among other directives.

“After our tour of local reservoirs, Secretary Zinke recognizes that Sacramento’s water grab would cripple our communities, farms and water storage infrastructure,” Denham said. “Our water, our water rights, and our future depend on stopping this wasteful plan.”

Rep. Jeff Denham, photo courtesy of his Facebook page

Previously, the Bureau of Reclamation, within the Department of Interior, issued an official comment on the state’s proposed water grab, noting the plan “directly interfere[s] with the New Melones Project’s ability to store water” and “elevate[s] the Project’s fish and wildlife purposes over the Project’s irrigation and domestic purposes contrary to the prioritization scheme carefully established by Congress.”

The agency’s comment also specifies that siphoning off at least 40 percent of the Central Valley’s rivers during peak season would result in significant reductions in water storage at New Melones and result in diminished power generation as well as recreational opportunities. The agency recommends the Board reconsider and postpone the scheduled August 21-22 public meeting to allow for “additional due diligence and dialogue.”

Recently, Denham’s amendment to stop the state’s dangerous water grab passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of a Department of the Interior appropriations bill, and put a major spotlight on this issue. The amendment, currently awaiting a vote in the Senate, prohibits federal agencies from participating in the state’s plan to deplete the federally owned New Melones reservoir, which provides water for the Central Valley Project and generates hydropower.

Sacramento’s plan would drain significantly more water from New Melones each year, potentially leaving it completely dry some years. This would put in jeopardy critical water supplies for Central Valley farmers and communities who rely on the water for their homes, businesses, farms, and electric power. The amendment takes this issue head-on to protect Valley water.

Denham will continue fighting to protect Central Valley water, support science-driven river management plans that revitalize our rivers without recklessly wasting water, and push major policies like the New WATER Act that will solve California’s water storage crisis and keep the Valley fertile and prosperous for generations to come.

See the memo from Secretary Zinke here, or to read the full comment from the Department of the Interior on the state water grab plan, click here. For more information about what Denham is doing to fight for water in the Valley, visit www.Denham.house.gov/water, where you can also sign up to receive periodic updates on his work in Washington to improve local water infrastructure, storage and delivery.

Will Mandatory Water Conservation Regulation be Effective?

By Laurie Greene, Editor

As the agricultural sector does its part in coping with curtailed water allocations and conserving what remains, an emergency regulation to increase conservation practices for all Californians went into effect TODAY. The new mandatory water conservation regulation targets outdoor urban water use. In some areas of the state, 50 percent or more of daily water use is for lawns and outdoor landscaping. This regulation establishes the minimum level of activity that residents, businesses and water suppliers must meet as the drought deepens and will be in effect for 270 days unless extended or repealed.

The regulation, adopted by the State Water Board July 15, and approved by the Office of Administrative Law July 28, mandates minimum actions to conserve water supplies both for this year and into 2015. For more information please visit the Conservation Regulation Portal.

In “The Public Eye: Voluntary water conservation not effective, data show,” Matt Weiser and Phillip Reese confirm, “only mandatory conservation measures, backed by a threat of fines, seem to prompt consumers to save.”

They reported state water agencies used five percent less water (January-May 2014) under mandatory rules alone than the previous three-year average. Agencies under voluntary conservation measures increased water usage four percent over the same timeframe.

Most significantly, water agencies working under mandatory water conservation regulations used fourteen percent less water in May 2014; whereas, other agencies increased usage slightly. And, seventy-five percent of water districts north of the Grapevine reduced usage compared to previous years, while only thirty percent of those south showed reductions.

Now let’s put this into perspective, the authors say that, for instance, Santa Ana residents, each, consume 108 gallons of water daily versus Sacramento residents, who use 218 gallons each. Likewise, San Francisco residents increased their water consumption in May, but they use forty-nine gallons daily, and of course,they do not have substantial landscaping to nourish.

With this regulation, all Californians are expected to stop: washing down driveways and sidewalks; watering of outdoor landscapes that cause excess runoff; using a hose to wash a motor vehicle, unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle, and using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated. The regulation makes an exception for health and safety circumstances.

Larger water suppliers are required to activate their Water Shortage Contingency Plan to a level where outdoor irrigation restrictions are mandatory. In communities where no water shortage contingency plan exists, the regulation requires that water suppliers either limit outdoor irrigation to twice a week or implement other comparable conservation actions. Finally, large urban water suppliers must report water use on a monthly basis to track progress beginning Aug. 15.

Local agencies could ask courts to fine water users up to $500 a day for failure to implement the conservation requirements of the regulation, in addition to their existing authorities and processes.

In addition, Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste and has signed a bill that bars state homeowners associations and common interest developments, such as condominiums, from fining residents for drought-respectful brown lawns. As yet, all other homeowners are not protected.

Visit SaveOurH2O.org to find out how everyone can do their part; Drought.CA.Gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought, and Saveourh2o.org/report-water-waste to report state agency water waste.