State Water Resources Control Board Grab for Salmon Will Impact Federal Water

Feds and State Usually Do Not Work Well Together

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today continues our report on the recent water rally in Sacramento at the capital building. Farmers and stakeholders attended to protest the California State Water Resources Control Board Proposed Water Grab 40 percent of the water from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers redirected to increase flows for salmon.

U.S. representative for the 16th district Jim Costa explained how federal and state water projects would be drastically impeded.

There are distinctions between state and federal laws as relates to water. However, there are federal water projects. In this case, New Melones  Dam, a Federal Central Valley Water Project site, will be severely impacted, which could be a problem for the Water Board’s plan,” Costa said.  “With all of the challenges in water, none in the last 20 years have worked together between the Central Valley Water Project and the State Water Project.”

 Adam Gray, 21st district assemblymen representing Merced and Stanislaus counties, explained the fight with the water resources board over the years.

“For the six years I’ve been in the assembly, we have been fighting this fight with the state water board, and despite repeated concerns that we have raised, testimony that I provided and members of my community have provided, the state continues to ignore the concerns and the farmers are not happy,” Gray said. “We are going to raise our voices as loud as they need to be and talk to whoever we need to talk to to get a fair deal on this.”

“The irrigation districts have science-based plans that involve habitat restoration, water, rebuilding a river, and dealing with non-native predators,” he said. It is not going to be easy, and it is going to take sacrifice to make a fair deal. All they want to do is take, take, take, and it is all water with no consideration for those other things.”

JUST IN: UC Davis’ Preliminary Findings on Drought Impact in Central Valley

Source Office of Public Affairs

Photo Source-Aquafornia

California’s drought impact will be a severe blow to Central Valley irrigated agriculture and farm communities this year and could cost the industry $1.7 billion and cause more than 14,500 workers to lose their jobs, according to preliminary results of a new study by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

Researchers estimated that Central Valley irrigators would receive only two-thirds of their normal river water deliveries this year because of the drought.

The preliminary analysis represents the first socio-economic forecast of this year’s drought, said lead author Richard Howitt, a UC Davis professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics.

“We wanted to provide a foundation for state agricultural and water policymakers to understand the drought impact on farmers and farm communities,” Howitt said.

The Central Valley is the richest food-producing region in the world. Much of the nation’s fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown on the region’s 7 million acres of irrigated farmland.

The center plans to release a more comprehensive report of the drought’s economic impact on the state’s irrigated agriculture this summer.

The analysis was done at the request of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which co-funded the research, along with the University of California.

“These estimates will help the state better understand the economic impacts of the drought, ” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The research confirms where emergency drought assistance will be needed most, and efforts are already underway.”

The UC Davis researchers used computer models and the latest estimates of State Water Project, the federal Central Valley Project and local water deliveries, plus groundwater pumping capacities to forecast the economic effects of this year’s drought.

The analysis predicted several severe impacts for the current growing season, including:

▪Reduced surface water deliveries of 6.5 million acre-feet of water, or 32.5 percent of normal water use by Central Valley growers. An acre-foot is enough water to cover an acre of land in a foot of water, or enough water for about two California households for a year.

▪ Fallowing of an additional 410,000 acres, representing 6 percent of irrigated cropland in the Central Valley.

▪ The loss of an estimated 14,500 seasonal and full-time jobs. About 6,400 of these jobs are directly involved in crop production.

▪ A total cost of $1.7 billion to the Central Valley’s irrigated farm industry this year, including about $450 million in additional costs of groundwater pumping.

▪ About 60 percent of the economic losses will occur in the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Lake Basin.

Growers are expected to replace much of the loss in project water deliveries with groundwater, California’s largest source of water storage during drought years, said co-author Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences and a UC Davis professor of civil and environmental engineering.

“Without access to groundwater, this year’s drought would be truly devastating to farms and cities throughout California,” Lund said.

The additional pumping will cost an estimated $450 million and still leave a shortage of 1.5 million acre-feet of irrigation water, about 7.5 percent of normal irrigation water use in the Central Valley, according to the forecast.

While the current drought is expected to impose major hardships on many farmers, small communities and the environment, it should not threaten California’s overall economy, Lund said.

Agriculture today accounts for less than 3 percent of the state’s $1.9 trillion a year gross domestic product.Other authors on the report are UC Davis agricultural economist Josue Medellin-Azuara and Duncan MacEwan of the ERA Economic consulting firm in Davis.

STATE WATER BOARD POSTS QUESTIONS, AGENDA FOR FEB. 18- 19 DROUGHT WORKSHOP

DROUGHT WORKSHOP AGENDA

Public Workshop Regarding the Temporary Urgency Change Petition for the

Central Valley and State Water Projects and

State Water Board Water Availability Actions

February 18 & 19, 2014

 

 

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) is holding a workshop to receive input on its drought-related activities affecting water rights holders.

 

The State Water Board will receive input on the January 31, 2014 State Water Board Order, modified on February 7, 2014, approving a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) filed by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and United States Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) (collectively referred to as Petitioners) on January 29, 2014, regarding Delta water quality. The Board will also receive input related to Board drought-related water curtailment actions.

 

On February 26, the State Water Board will receive input on other actions that it is, or should be taking in response to continuing drought conditions. Input may address both water right and water quality related programs. See meeting information at the end of this posting.

 

These will be informational workshops only and no State Water Board action will be taken.

 

To assist workshop participants, below are some of the issues that the State Water Board is interested in receiving input on: 

 

Temporary Urgency Change Order (TUCP) (“Order) for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project

 

Is there additional information the Board should consider related to the following findings?

 

1) Is there an urgent need for the changes? Are the changes necessary to maximize the beneficial use of water? Are there any modifications to the Order that should be made to maximize the beneficial use of water?

 

2) Will the changes injure any other lawful user of water?

 

3) Will the changes have an unreasonable effects on fish, wildlife, or other instream beneficial uses?

 

4) Are the changes in the public interest?

 

In particular, the State Water Board is interested in the following questions:

 

5) Are there any additional modifications that should be made to the Order?

 

6) Is there additional information not provided in the TUCP that would better inform the State Water Board’s findings?

 

7) What “triggers” (such as Delta salinity) would support opening the Delta Cross Channel Gates?

 

8) Should the method used to calculate Net Delta Outflow be adjusted during extended dry periods to better inform measures needed to protect Delta salinity (such as opening the Delta Cross Channel gates)? Specifically, should methods used to estimate in-Delta consumptive use during extended dry periods be adjusted?

 

9) How should the quantity of water conserved through changes authorized by the Order be calculated? How should the water be used?

 

10) Based on current reservoir storage and forecasted snowmelt, how much water will be available for Sacramento River temperature control, north of Delta settlement contractor deliveries, and carryover storage in the event of another dry year?

 

11) What other measures, such as barriers in the Delta, may be needed to protect health and safety and maximize the protection of beneficial uses?

 

Curtailment Notices

 

12) How should the Board prioritize its analysis of watersheds to determine whether to issue curtailment notices, and any subsequent enforcement activities?

 

13) How should the State Water Board determine, measure, and enforce Health and Safety limits for junior domestic water rights holders?

 

14) Are there other reasonable use exceptions that should be made in the application of the water rights priority system?

 

15) What minimum flows and reservoir levels are needed for health and safety throughout the summer months, and should this be factored into determinations on whether to curtail?

 

16) Should all water right holders in some watersheds be required to limit diversions to protect instream beneficial uses under the reasonable use and public trust doctrines? If so, how should the State Water Board determine what flows are necessary?

 

Agenda

 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 – 9:00 a.m.

 

  • Opening Remarks by State Water Board Chair and Board Members

 

  • Opening Remarks by Gordon Burns, Undersecretary for California Environmental Protection Agency, and Janelle Beland, Undersecretary for California Natural Resources Agency

 

  • State Water Board Staff Introduction (Staff Panel)

 

      • Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project

 

      • Curtailment Notices

 

      • Other Requests for Transfers and Change Petitions (Russian River TUCP)

 

      • FERC Hydropower Project Flows

 

 

  • Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Presentation (Panel)

 

      • Statewide Hydrologic Conditions

 

      •  TUCP for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project

 

      • Transfers

 

  • Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Presentation (Panel)

 

      • Statewide Issues

 

      • TUCP for the Central Valley Project and State Water Projects

 

  • Real Time Drought Operations Team

 

  • Comments from the Public (parties with similar interests are encouraged to form panels)

 

 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 – 9:00 a.m.

 

  • Comments from the Public to be continued, if necessary

 

 

State Water Board Actions to Increase Water Conservation, Reuse, 

Recycling and other Drought Related Measures 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 – 9:00 a.m. 

Joe Serna Jr. – Cal/EPA Headquarters Building

Coastal Hearing Room

1001 I Street, Second Floor

Sacramento, CA 95814