Proposition 3 Water Bond on Nov. Ballot

Initiative Would Fund Urgent Water Projects

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

California Proposition 3, the Water Infrastructure and Watershed Conservation Bond Initiative, will be on the 2018 ballot. A yes vote supports the measure to authorize $8.8 billion in general obligation bonds for water infrastructure, groundwater supplies and storage, surface water storage and dam repairs, watershed and fisheries improvements, and habitat protection and restoration.

If passed, the bonds will help fix subsidence issues and the Friant Kern canal. If passed, this bond is sure to go to fixing things instead of being taken hostage by the California Water Commission and not used as it was intended.

Jason Phillips

Jason Phillips, CEO of the Friant Water Users Authority, which operates the Federal Friant Kern canal said, “It is real money that will be used. And I think what California will realize is that there’s a real need for that, and when you look at the size of California and the fact that the bond will fund projects that go from as far down as San Diego and the Salton Sea, and as far north to support the repairs needed Oroville Dam, it’s a 100 percent bond that would fund it, no reimbursement required, and the money would come straight to the Friant Water Authority to be used immediately.”

“We’ve already worked with Department of Water Resources to make sure that when the bond passes, we could start submitting requests for some of that funding immediately to start working on the canal in November 2018,” he said.

The subsidence along the canal is a big problem, and it’s growing. The worst part of it is in the middle of the 152-mile canal. The capacity of the canal has been reduced by about 60 percent, and that causes significant problems when there’s high demand, such as the middle of summer when the farmers need the water to put on their crops.

“It’s in the middle of summer, everybody’s asked for water, and we’re not able to move everything, so we have to turn people down and so what do they do? They have to turn on groundwater wells to supplement, and that is the problem that is causing more subsidence and right now,” Phillips explained.

Phillips said the canal, at it’s worse spot is, is sinking at about an inch a month.

Go to waterbond.org for more information.

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A Call for Common Sense Water Management

California Water Management Dilemma

By Lawrence H. Easterling, Jr.

Larry Easterling
Larry Easterling makes a comment at a recent pistachio growers meeting.

We are witnessing the dismantling of the California water conveyance system that supplies drinking water for 25 million California residents and four million acres of prime farmland in the San Joaquin Valley.

Our water resources are being “Withheld” from the very people of this state who have shown what “Free Enterprise” can do not only for the well-being of all in California, but the entire nation. Unfortunately, several major environmental groups and complacent politicians are killing the freedoms that have been the bulwark of success in California. Let me explain.

Water is our most valuable renewable resource and Mother Nature gives it to California in copious amounts during most years. What we do with that water—water management—is critical to the future of the Golden State.

On average, 200.0 million acre-feet of water a year blankets our state. One acre-foot is equal to 325,851 gallons of water. Of that precipitation, 75% originates north of the Sacramento River. The other 25% falls in central and southern California.

The water that is not manageable by us is 120.0 million acre-feet. Some of it evaporates, but most of it settles into the ground, fills lakes, and what remains heads for the Pacific Ocean. The balance of the water is called “directable” surface water (80,000,000 acre-feet) and this is where we have the opportunity to put it to its best and proper use.

By 2005, according to the Department of Water Resources, 48% of that directable water went to the environment, 41% to agriculture and the remaining 11% to rural areas. This balance of such a precious resource seemed at the time to be equitable to all parties, thanks to the ingenuity of our forefathers in the 20th century. Their foresight gave us a water conveyance system second to none in the entire world.

 

California’s water conveyance system had four major objectives:

  1. To provide reliable water deliveries to 25 million people to avoid water shortages that would otherwise exist and continually plague two-thirds of the California population.
  2. To support four million acres in central California of what the National Geographic Magazine proclaimed to be the most productive farmland in the world.
  3. To reinforce our natural environment.
  4. To recharge our groundwater supplies.

Some distinctions should be made here as to how much directable water we are actually concerned about. At full capacity, the two California water conveyance systems—the State Water Project (SWP) and the federal Central Valley Project (CVP)—deliver water from northern California to southern and central California. Each system, the CVP and the SWP, has the capacity to each deliver 4.0 million acre-feet water each year. However, this water delivery capacity has never been tested. The record shows that in the years prior to 2005, the average total delivery COMBINED for both projects was 5.4 million acre-feet per year. The ultimate users of this water went to agriculture (60%) and the rural population (40%).

The volume of water available, on average, from the Sacramento River, including the San Joaquin River, is 30.3 million acre-feet. It is from this volume of water that the 5.4 million acre-feet are sent south.

In 2007, several environmental organizations led by Natural Resources Defense Council took the Department of Water Resources to court to compel the court to enforce the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court ruling to enforce this law declared that the giant water export pumps that raise the water from the Delta into the California Aqueduct were cut back because it was suspect that the pumps were killing too many delta smelt, an endangered species.

Even in flood years restricted pumping has reduced the water flow to a fraction of the contracted normal flow. Henceforth, since 2007, our water deliveries to urban and agricultural areas have been severely compromised.

The enforcement of these laws is now negating the four major functions of the giant California water conveyance system outlined with the possible exception of the natural environment. Now mind you, this water comes from northern California where 75% of the rain in California falls, averaging over 50 inches a year. Central and southern California “average” less than 15 inches a year.

During the seven years from 2007 through 2014, average deliveries to farms have been reduced to less than one acre-foot per year. Most agricultural crops require 3 ½ acre-feet of water per year. Today, without recourse, these farms are left with barely enough water to keep their plants alive. As for the hardship visited upon 25 million consumers, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) in southern California is a good example.

The MWD services 19 million accounts, and prior to 2007, was receiving 40% of its water from the SWP. That water source has now only been able to supply approximately 10% of their needs. Consequently, due to seeking other sources to replace their water losses, rate increases to their customers over the years 2007 to 2014 have doubled. On top of all these setbacks, Mother Nature now has shown us her own drought versus our manufactured water crisis. All the way through this synthetic drought, the average rate of precipitation at the source of our water in northern California has been 45 inches each year.

In order to survive, those of us who must have an adequate supply of water to sustain us have been forced to pump more groundwater and/or purchase water from farmers who idle farmland and transfer their water to areas severely threatened with water shortages. For some of those lucky enough to find water for sale, the cost of water has become a severe financial burden. Where farms in the Central Valley were, prior to 2007, paying just under $100 per acre-foot, today if a willing seller can be found, the price can range anywhere from $1,000 to over $2,000 per acre-foot. In many such cases, water costs can exceed all other cultural costs combined. Likewise, the aquifer has dropped every year since 2007 due to frantic attempts by farmers to supplement the critical loss of surface water.

 

WHAT MUST BE DONE:

The effects of water deprivation over an eight-year period by a man-made drought capped by one of nature’s real droughts, is wrecking havoc with the nation’s food supply. The state of California is now in the grips of the Law of Diminishing Returns and is incapable of averting a disaster due to environmental regulations. Consequently, this country’s NATIONAL SECURITY is being compromised. CONGRESS MUST ACT NOW before further damage is done. These actions need to be taken:

1. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) must be excluded from jurisdiction over the pumps, which move northern water to central and southern California. The pumps are presently operating at about 15% of their capacity. This measure should be permanent and under the management of the Department of Water Resources (DWR).

2. The Endangered Species Act needs to be revised in order to “protect all species”, including humans, from collateral damage due to methods employed to save one species that results in severe damage to other species. This would be implemented through a biological opinion that would INCLUDE a list of all species that would be adversely affected by the METHOD employed to protect one specific species. This measure would make right just one of the irregularities in this flawed law, which attracts litigation like bees to honey. The law does not need to be struck down, simply rewritten to safeguard “all” species, including human beings.

3. California’s magnificent water distribution and conveyance system has no peer in this world. It is a remarkable feat of engineering admired by those who have come from far and near to marvel at its accomplishment. Yet, by environmental fiat, it has been reduced to a token of its capabilities. “Directable” water in California originally ceded one-third of its 80,000,000 acre-feet to the environment.

Today, according to the DWR, the environment now takes, not one-third, but 50% of the direct able water, leaving the rest to urban and farming communities. This is not what the original framers envisioned, but under the DWR, its control has been gradually diluted by federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and one of its extensions known as the STATE WATER RESOURCES CONTROL BOARD (SWRCB). THIS FIVE PERSON-BOARD IS STAFFED WITH ENVIRONMENTALISTS, such as their chairwoman, Felicia Marcos, a Governor Brown-appointee, whose professional background includes eight years with the EPA and five years with the radical Natural Resources Defense Council.

The influence of these federal agencies, backed by political power brokers’ lobbyists, has tilted the water distribution of surface water away from its original intended users. In essence, the environmentalists now control California’s surface water; and now, with the passage of the recent 7.5 billion dollar Water Bond, they will control our groundwater as well. If the water agencies do not perform with the desired results, the bottom-line is that final control will go to the SWRCB.

The ship of state now needs to be righted; it is drifting far off course. First of all, the EPA must be brought to heel. For a federal agency, it exerts far too much power. And, in so doing, has completely distorted California’s surface water delivery system. Next, the SWRCB must either be eliminated with FULL CONTROL restored to the Department of Water Resources, or completely reorganized as an ADVISORY BOARD to the DWR where ALL recipients of the surface water system would be represented. A ten-board membership might be in order, with a director and the nine remaining seats divided into three equal parts by experienced personnel in agriculture, city water management, and the environment, i.e., three persons from each classification and residents of northern, central and southern California.

4. Finally, one in every ten workers in California is either directly, or indirectly dependent upon the health of our vast agricultural industry.

It is time to step forward and reveal, with facts and figures, the house of cards that water management in this state has become. Likewise, those 25 million people in southern California, such as the MWD’s 19 million users who once got 40% of their water from the giant conveyance system, deserve to get that water back.

With years of a man-made drought compounded by a natural drought now in the eighth year, there is ample information available through various farm county records to quantify in lost dollars the cumulative effect of, (1) lost production due to forced fallowing of land, (2) water costs that are now ten times what they were prior to 2007, and (3) the heavy burden economically of converting hardworking farm labor to the welfare roles where some Central Valley towns are now approaching 50% unemployment. Combined, these costs will be in the billions of dollars, bloating further our California deficit.

The goal of society has always been to improve the human condition and for one generation to leave a better world for the next. The visionaries of the 20th century got it right. They delivered in spades to us, the beneficiaries, a modern miracle. It is a water conveyance system like none other to serve all the people of California. Where are those visionaries now? Rather than embrace the gifts of a reliable source of precious water, they proceed to dismantle the entire system. It is because of the system that California feeds the nation. This is not just a California crisis. It is one that will affect the entire nation. Look upon it as a national security threat and demand that our leaders do what is right for the vast majority of this country’s people.

 Lawrence H. Easterling, Jr. Administrator, Kettleman Pistachio Growers and Director, American Pistachio Growers

 

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CDFA AWARDS $5.8 MILLION TO ASSIST FARMERS WITH WATER EFFICIENCY AND ENHANCEMENT

Announced TODAY, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has awarded $5.8 million for 70 different projects in the second phase of a program to implement on-farm water irrigation systems with increased water efficiency and enhancement to reduce water and energy use, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

The funding for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) is part of emergency drought Legislation (SB 103) signed in early 2014 by Governor Brown – authorizing CDFA to distribute as much as $10 million for eligible projects, in cooperation with the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board.

“These projects are essential to allow farmers to continue agricultural food production while at the same time providing ecosystem services that enhance the environment” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The result is the continuous improvement of our farming systems while at the same time providing multiple benefits, including water conservation and reduced GHG emissions.”

With this latest round of funding, a total of $9.1 million has been awarded for 155 different projects that have leveraged an additional $6.9 million in private cost-share dollars from grant recipients. The money comes from the state’s portion of Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds. The proceeds are deposited in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and appropriated to state agencies.

The funding will reduce GHG emissions through projects that include modifications to improve water efficiency like drip and microsprinkler systems; energy-efficient water pumps; soil moisture sensors; and irrigation scheduling programs that apply water based on crop needs.

This program is the first of its kind at CDFA and applies to its authority under the Environmental Farming Act of 1995, which states that the department should oversee an Environmental Farming Program to provide incentives to farmers whose practices promote the well-being of ecosystem and air quality.

More information on the SWEEP program can be found by visiting  www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/sweep.

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Storm flows lead to challenges for water system

By Kate Campbell; Ag Alert

After enduring three of the driest years in state history, nothing could be more heartening to farmers and ranchers than the steady march of Pacific storms that reached California this month. But good news is tempered by the knowledge that a few strong downpours don’t translate into full reservoirs and abundant supplies — and the storms revived concern about how state and federal water systems manage storm flows in a drought year.

The state’s reservoirs stand at about 57 percent of average, slightly below this time a year ago and well below full capacity.

“We’ve had years past where rain and snow didn’t continue into the New Year,” said State Climatologist Mike Anderson, pointing to the moisture cutoff last January that assured shortages for farmers who rely on surface water deliveries from the state and federal water projects.

“So far this year, precipitation levels depend on where you are—north of a Bay Area-Tahoe line, precipitation is above average, but in the south, levels are actually below average,” Anderson said. “In addition, there’s also below-average snowpack across the entire Sierra Nevada.”

He said most of the storms so far this water year, which began Oct. 1, have been warm, meaning snow accumulations aren’t building the way water managers hope. Sierra snowpack currently is about 50 percent of average, he said.

While December storms dropped significant precipitation, the California Farm Water Coalition noted last week that many of the state’s agricultural customers in the federal Central Valley Project worry that this year’s zero deliveries of surface water will be repeated in 2015.

“In the last few weeks, hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water were in the system at the same time delta pumps were almost completely shut down,” coalition Executive Director Mike Wade said.

As these storms have come in, Wade said the water storage situation is similar to what was seen a year ago—except the state’s reservoirs are now lower.

“It’s very frustrating to watch water flowing through the system without being captured,” he said. “We have constraints in the delta that hold down the amount of water we catch to the bare minimum because of protections for delta smelt.”

During the height of the stormwater pulse moving through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta last week, he said, less than 10 percent of the surge was captured for storage and use next summer.

The state Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said last week they are experimenting with pumping reductions to prevent a “turbidity bridge” from occurring in the central and south delta. Delta smelt are attracted to turbid, or cloudy, water because it makes the tiny organisms it feeds on more visible and provides shelter from potential predators, such as non-native bass.

DWR described the strategy this way: “Forgoing the capture of tens of thousands of acre-feet of water may allow water project operators to avoid the loss of hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water supply later in the winter.”

A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Reclamation, Erin Curtis, said the storms present challenges in operating the system “to balance the critical need to quickly increase water supplies south of the delta while being cautious to not trigger environmental restrictions that could constrain delta operations and ultimately reduce the overall supplies.”

Representatives of agricultural water users said they’ll be closely watching the results of the operational change.

“It will be interesting to see if this is a worthwhile new operating principle at the beginning of each season,” said Chris Scheuring, an environmental attorney for the California Farm Bureau Federation. “The downside is that it might turn out to be a waste of water.”

“Clearly there is risk associated with a decision like this,” Wade said. “We hope the risk pays off.”

Fresno County farmer Dan Errotabere said due to the “turbidity bridge” theory and the lack of water transfer from the delta into storage, there’s serious concern about water supply management on the part of San Joaquin Valley farmers who rely on the state and federal projects for water deliveries during the growing season.

“Managing water during a drought is critical,” Errotabere said, noting that he fallowed 1,200 acres this year. “We’re losing opportunities now and, if the available supplies aren’t managed to capture available water to the fullest extent, we may not see a water allocation for the next crop year.”

He said he’s grateful for recent rainfall that helped reduce the need for irrigation of his winter garlic and wheat crops. The rain also helps leach salt, which has built up in the soil due to the region’s widespread use of drip irrigation and saltier groundwater.

“We’ve got to get off the groundwater because of its lower quality,” said Errotabere, who is vice chairman of the CFBF Water Advisory Committee, “and we need legislation to make sure good-quality irrigation water is put into storage. The rainy days are slipping away and we may find there’s no more available water to capture.”

Vince Dykzeul, a diversified grower from Modesto, urged creation of new water storage to help water managers respond to the ebb and flow of storms.

“If it’s true the climate is changing,” Dykzeul said, “if we’re going to have larger storms and longer droughts, then we need more water in storage to respond to these changing conditions. Water storage increases system flexibility and, if done right, everybody wins from having more water available.”

He noted that his farming operation is particularly vulnerable to flooding.

“Without adequate infrastructure to control storm waters, that’s when we have trouble,” Dykzeul said. “Nobody wants to talk about managing flood while managing through a drought, but I know the benefit of keeping both sides of the coin in mind.”

Federal weather forecasters said last week they expect continued average to above-average rainfall across California during the next three months, predicting an easing—but not an end—to the severe drought of the past several years. There’s also a 65 percent chance of weak El Niño conditions developing in the Pacific Ocean, which could influence winter precipitation, although experts say “anomalies” in climate patterns create forecast uncertainties.

“It’s not likely the drought will be broken this year,” said Steve Baxter, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecaster. “But it’s likely (California drought) conditions will improve.”

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State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) Built on Collaborative Partnerships

CDFA continues to accept applications for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, or SWEEP. The deadline to apply is July 15, 2014.

The program is designed to provide financial assistance to agricultural operations for the implementation of water conservation measures that increase water efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately $10 million has been made available for SWEEP through emergency drought legislation (Senate Bill 103).

Although CDFA is leading this effort, the development, implementation and success of this program is dependent on collaborative efforts across state and federal agencies and with multiple partners.

CDFA is working closely with the State Water Board and Department of Water Resources on several aspects of the program, including program design and the collection of applications through the State Water Board’s electronic application program, the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST).

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) and the CDFA Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel have been valuable assets by providing guidance and feedback on many aspects of program design.

SWEEP requires a high level of technical expertise to review the applications. Irrigation experts from the Cal Poly Irrigation Training and Research Center, the Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State and the University of California’s Cooperative Extension are partnering with CDFA to provide application technical review and recommendations for funding.

Verifying that projects are implemented at the farm level is a critical part of SWEEP. CDFA is partnering with the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, which regularly works with farmers and has conservation practice experience on irrigation systems, to verify the projects. 

SWEEP was implemented under the 1995 Environmental Farming Act, which recognizes that many farmers engage in practices that contribute to the well-being of ecosystems, air quality and wildlife, and states that CDFA shall provide incentives for those practices.

 

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Citrus Growers Forced to Push Trees Due to Zero Water

Governor Brown issued an executive order on Friday to the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board to expedite approvals of voluntary water transfers to areas of need.

Citrus growers and communities within the Friant service area, however, are still without water despite the availability of additional supplies from recent storm events.

There have been many opportunities for the state water agencies to communicate with stakeholders the amount of water that will be delivered, yet they consistently fail to provide numbers.

A conference call was scheduled on Friday, but after being postponed twice it was cancelled.   “The lack of communication by Federal and State administrations to producers of fresh fruits and vegetables regarding future deliveries is unacceptable,” says Nelsen.

A vast majority of the Central Valley’s $1.5 billion citrus industry is located within the Friant Service Area. Due to the unwillingness of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to cooperate with State and Federal lawmakers and agencies, an estimated 50,000 acres of citrus in the Central Valley is at risk of being forced out of production.

We now know that because of the February and March storms there is sufficient supply to service the Friant Canal’s minimum needs of 200,000 acre-feet. However, “NMFS fails to realize the disastrous impacts of their unwillingness to reevaluate the actual needs of the fish and reach a balanced solution for all stakeholders,” says CCM President Joel Nelsen. “Growers are now being forced to make difficult decisions as the bureaucrats at NMFS fail to reach a decision of their own.”

Acres upon acres of valuable citrus trees have already been pushed out of production. But, it is not just trees that will be pushed if Friant does not receive water – jobs will be pushed, people will be pushed, and the economy will surely suffer.

California Citrus Mutual estimates that a loss of 50,000 acres will result in a $3 billion hit to the California economy. “This is not just about trees, it is a matter of public health,” continues Nelsen. “Unless our growers receive their fair share of water from the Friant Canal our communities will suffer without the economic driver of a vibrant citrus industry in the Central Valley.”

“I ask, is it worth sending excess amounts of water down the river at the expense of an entire industry and the 20,000 jobs it creates,” concludes Nelsen.

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Gov. Brown Issues Executive Order to Redouble State Drought Actions

Governor Brown Doubles Down on Drought

 

With California’s driest months ahead, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order to strengthen the state’s ability to manage water and habitat effectively in drought conditions and called on all Californians to redouble their efforts to conserve water.

“The driest months are still to come in California and extreme drought conditions will get worse,” said Governor Brown. “This order cuts red tape to help get water to farmers more quickly, ensure communities have safe drinking water, protect vulnerable species and prepare for an extreme fire season. I call on every city, every community, every Californian to conserve water in every way possible.”

In January, the Governor declared a drought state of emergency. Since then, state water officials say that reservoirs, rainfall totals and the snowpack remain critically low. Current electronic readings show the snowpack’s statewide water content at just 16 percent of average.

In the order, Governor Brown directs the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board to expedite approvals of voluntary water transfers to assist farmers. He also directs the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to accelerate monitoring of drought impacts on winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River and its tributaries, and to execute habitat restoration projects that will help fish weather the on-going drought.

To respond to the increased threat of wildfire season, the order streamlines contracting rules for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and CALFIRE for equipment purchases and enables landowners to quickly clear brush and dead, dying or diseased trees that increase fire danger.

The order also calls on Californians and California businesses to take specific actions to avoid wasting water, including limiting lawn watering and car washing; recommends that schools, parks and golf courses limit the use of potable water for irrigation; and asks that hotels and restaurants give customers options to conserve water by only serving water upon request and other measures. The order also prevents homeowner associations from fining residents that limit their lawn watering and take other conservation measures.

The order provides a limited waiver of the California Environmental Quality Act for several actions that will limit harm from the drought.  This waiver will enable these urgently needed actions to take place quickly and will remain in place through the end of 2014.

Continue reading “Gov. Brown Issues Executive Order to Redouble State Drought Actions”

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Strategic Plan for the Future of Integrated Regional Water Management

DWR is developing a strategic plan for the future of Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) in California.

This plan will help shape the desired future for IRWM and identify measures needed for that future to be achieved.

The IRWM strategic plan will describe DWR’s future role and guide its actions for improving its support of IRWM. In addition, the plan will identify options, tools, and recommendations for others to support the practice of IRWM.

California Water Conveyance or irrigation, water managementThe Strategic Plan for water management is needed to:

  • build on the current and past successes of IRWM
  • further enable, empower, and support regional water management groups
  • better align state and federal programs to support IRWM
  • develop a shared vision for funding priorities and financing mechanisms
  • inform and influence future water management policies and investments for California

“The Strategic Plan for the Future of IRWM in California is critical for ensuring the continued advancement of sustainable water resources management.”             – Mark Cowin; Director, DWR

Today, DWR protects, conserves, develops, and manages much of California’s water supply including the State Water Project which provides water for 25 million residents, farms, and businesses.

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State Failed to Analyze Effects of Kern Water Bank

Source: Bettina Boxall; LA Times

resnick-stewart_pic
Stewart Resnick

A court ruling issued Wednesday could throw obstacles to the operation of a Kern County groundwater bank that has helped billionaire Stewart Resnick build a nut empire in the southern San Joaquin Valley.

In the latest development in a two-decade legal fight, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge found that the state Department of Water Resources didn’t properly analyze the environmental impacts of the Kern Water Bank, which is partly controlled by Resnick’s Paramount Farms enterprise.

Judge Timothy Frawley will hold a hearing to determine the next step in the case. Environmental groups intend to argue that the water bank should be shut down while the state prepares a new environmental report.

“These guys have spent 16 years avoiding this moment. It’s always been a possibility that a court would come in and shut it down,” said Adam Keats, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, which represented plaintiffs in one of two related lawsuits that Frawley decided.

Representatives of Resnick and his wife, Lynda, who also own Fiji Water and POM Wonderful pomegranate juice, referred requests for comment to the water bank, whose attorney could not be reached.

The legal challenges sought to undo changes to the State Water Project that were made as part of a 1994 deal, known as the Monterey Agreement, between the Department of Water Resources and agencies supplied by the project. An earlier round of lawsuits forced the state to issue a new environmental review of the pact, which opponents argued was again insufficient.

Frawley ruled against them on all but one issue involving the water bank.

On that count, the judge concluded that the state’s environmental report failed to adequately assess the effects of the bank’s operation, particularly on groundwater and water quality.

Some neighboring water districts and environmental groups contend that the bank — originally developed by the state, but later ceded to private control — is harming the aquifer.

They also argue that because the groundwater bank is replenished with supplies from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the operation is increasing demand for water from the environmentally fragile delta.

The Monterey Agreements, made behind closed doors, were intended to settle disputes between contractors of the State Water Project, which supplies Southern California cities and some irrigation districts in the southern San Joaquin Valley.

The deal has been controversial since its inception and opponents have spent years trying to overturn its provisions.

In his decision, Frawley rejected most of their most recent claims, finding that except for the water bank, the state’s review met legal requirements.

Next, he has to decide what happens to the bank while the state launches yet another environmental evaluation. “That’s the big question we’re all going to be fighting over,” Keats said.

Paramount Farms is the world’s largest grower and processor of almonds and pistachios; in tandem with their Grower Partners, they farm 125,000 acres that deliver 450 million pounds of nuts.

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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

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