Madera County’s financial future is booming. David Rogers, a Madera County supervisor, is excited to know that Madera County is the fastest and number one growing ag economy in the United States.
“I represent most of the farming, and Madera County, which is the fastest growing our economy in the U.S. and has been for the last three and a half, four years,” Rogers said.
Madera is a business-friendly county.
“We’ve been number one in small jobs, manufacturing growth for the last nine years in a row, and all of that is ancillary to agriculture,” he said.
Pistachios and almonds have aided in Madera County’s financial growth.
“Some of those orchards that were planted five years ago are going to mean big revenue,” Rogers said.
Expansions to the Triangle T System have aided in the conveyance.
“The expansions were in wide areas, and conveyance is so critical to that,” Rogers explained.
There is also a new tunnel system that goes under the river for delivery.
“There was a lot of money that went into developing their system, and it’s paying off big time. I believe it’s almost 50,000 acres. It was 30,000 originally, I think, and it’s expanding more all the time,” Rogers said.
He also commented on the need for proper forest management that will allow more water into the system.
“One of the most important things that we can do right now is continue to emphasize forest management because that is a source of more water,” he said. “The better the management, the faster the forests can return to a healthy state. With a healthier forest, that means more water in the system and more water in our ground.”
David Rogers: Temperance Flat Dam Will Solve Sinking Soil
By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor
Speaking at last week’s California Water Commission meeting in Clovis about the need for water storage, Madera County supervisor David Rogers voiced the solution to land subsidence caused by groundwater depletion: the Temperance Flat Dam.
“We’re losing our groundwater so rapidly, the soil is sinking beneath us in a geological process called subsidence,” Rogers said. “Water is flowing out to the ocean from the San Joaquin River system, when in reality, that water needs to be delegated and allocated to farms so they don’t have to pump groundwater.”
“We’re losing the river and it’s a moot issue. We need surface water delivery; that has to happen. We cannot continue this way or we will lose the river, the communities, and the farms. There’s no question that Temperance Flat is the answer to this problem.”
Central Valley land subsidence is not new. In the mid-1900s, subsidence of the soil was occurring much like it is today. “Between 1937 and 1955,” Rogers explained, “the ground sank 28 feet in Mendota, Fresno and Madera Counties and similar regions.”
The federal Central Valley Project (CVP), which stretches 400 miles from north to south, was organized and built back then to solve the extreme and recurring water shortages, land subsidence and flooding. Operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and considered one of the world’s largest water storage and transport systems, the CVP now consists of 20 dams and reservoirs, 11 power plants, and 500 miles of major canals, as well as conduits, tunnels, and related facilities.
“The very purpose of the CVP,” Rogers emphasized, “was to stop the ground from sinking beneath our feet. We are currently in the same situation, and the much-needed extra storage is going to be created by the Temperance Flat Dam. It is the solution. It is what this Valley needs. We need it now. We don’t need it tomorrow; we need it—yesterday!”
Water Commission Meeting Delivers Passion and Controversy
By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor
The California drought has become a hot topic, and even more so is the subject of how to solve the drought. Some advocates believe the solution is in long-term water storage, and as a result, the California Water Commission (Commission) has been drawing up a proposal to enact this potential solution.
On Wednesday, Oct. 14 in Clovis, the Commission held a public meeting to discuss their Water Storage Investment Program.
Joe Del Bosque, a commissioner on the California Water Commission, as well as a Westside farmer struggling with the zero water allocations, summarized the meeting, “It was very lively, especially at the beginning. A lot of folks are hurting—and rightly so. They have a lot of uncertainties about next year or the year after, or for who knows how many years.
We don’t know when some of these storage projects will be completed and ready to start helping us. A lot of folks have a lot on the line here in the San Joaquin Valley, and I appreciate hearing from them and listening to their concerns.”
Assemblyman Jim Patterson, in his opening remarks, said the governor, the commission and the California State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) must realize what is driving the need for water storage. “We really need to look at the capacity to store water,” Patterson said. “If we have two river watersheds—both producing similar amounts of water, but one drops into a reservoir that’s half the size of the other, the water will overflow. And we know El Nino is coming, 95 percent.”
Many individuals spoke passionately about the plan during the comment period. Kings County Supervisor and walnut farmer, Doug Verboon, said, “We need storage. We’ve been complaining about it for years, and this is one chance in our lifetime to get more storage built. We need to get over our differences and get together and make this happen. We want to make sure the Water Commission fully understands the importance of adding more storage today.”
Another county supervisor, David Rogers, from Madera County, reminded the Commission that the need for water storage goes beyond reserving water for dry years.
“We’re losing our groundwater so rapidly that the soil is sinking beneath us and we have subsidence occurring,” Rogers said. “And all the while water is flowing out to the ocean from the San Joaquin river system when that water needs to be delegated and allocated to the farms that need it so they’re not pumping groundwater.
In reality we’re losing the river as a result of subsidence. The river, itself, is subsiding so it’s a moot issue whether or not we need surface water delivery. That has to happen. We cannot continue this way or we will lose the river, the communities and the farms. So there’s no question that Temperance Flat is the answer to that problem.”
During the meeting attendees learned that the Water Storage Improvement Plan includes a timeline that doesn’t allow for funds to be awarded to applicants wishing to build storage until 2017.
Greg Musson, president of GAR Tootelian, Inc., called the timeline unacceptable, adding the delay in the plan would lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. “I don’t see how anyone can accept this as being standard for the way that America works,” he said. “Shame on you! Really, shame on you! You have to do better here. America needs you to do better; I need you to do better; the people in this room need you to do better than this. This is outrageous.”
Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League, spoke about the Joint Powers of Authority (JPA) that is being formed to apply for funding to build water storage. “We’re going to have to submit it as a large project,” Cunha said, “big storage—definitely Temperance Flat—plus all of these different irrigation districts, cities and tribes have projects that we’re going put together and submit in this large package. That’s the only way we’re going to get this money. Only then cab we start to deal with all the public benefits, environmental issues, and securing those dollars for this Valley.”
The California Water Commission consists of nine members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate. Seven members are chosen for their general expertise related to the control, storage, and beneficial use of water and two are chosen for their knowledge of the environment. The Commission provides a public forum for discussing water issues, advises the Department of Water Resources (DWR), and takes appropriate statutory actions to further the development of policies that support integrated and sustainable water resource management and a healthy environment. Statutory duties include advising the Director of DWR, approving rules and regulations, and monitoring and reporting on the construction and operation of the State Water Project.