Temperance Flat Denied Funding

All Hope Dries Up

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Again, it came down to fish, specifically Chinook salmon, that forced the proposed Temperance Flat Dam out of the race for Proposition 1 funding for building new water storage projects.

Mario Santoyo and Temperance Flat Denied Funding
Mario Santoyo fought hard for Temperance Flat Dam funding.

For more than 20 years, the Temperance Flat Dam proposal was passionately advocated with unwavering support by Central Valley cities and the San Joaquin Valley Infrastructure Authority (SJVIA) who were behind the application. Temperance Flat came crumbling down Wednesday at the California Water Commission (CWC) meeting in Sacramento on the second day of discussion.

On Tuesday, CWC staff members assigned to crunch the Public Benefit Ratios for the project were solidly encased in concrete, refusing to grant the project any consideration for its ecosystem restoration benefits. The Dam would provide critical cold water to flow down the San Joaquin River, thus helping the salmon spawn.

CA Water Commission kills Temperance Flat funding
CA Water Commission denied funding for Temperance Flat Dam.

And while the official public benefit calculation came up short today, proponents already saw that the project was already on life support Tuesday, with a dire prognosis.

“Stunned is an understatement,” said Mario Santoyo, executive director of the SJVIA, who has worked for more than 18 years on the project. “Temperance Flat is the most critical water project ever proposed for the Central Valley, which is ground zero for significant water shortages that will not go away.”

It all boiled down to the Ecosystem Diagnosis and Treatment (EDT) model that was approved by Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources. Despite both approvals, that model did not jive with the Commission staff’s model, which undervalued the project’s public benefit ratio, killing the opportunity for Temperance Flat Dam to receive funding of more $1 billion for construction.

“We are working in an area of great uncertainty in professional judgment,” Bill Swanson, vice president, Water Resources Planning & Management for Stantec, a global planning and engineering firm, who presented data for the SJVIA. “We do not have fish in the river. We do not have empirical data. The only issue available to us is a comparison of how the system would respond to changes in flow, temperature and habitat,” Swanson said.

“That’s the reason we used the EDT model, the same model that the Bureau of Reclamation has used in their models of flow,” Swanson explained. “The SJVIA’s challenge was how to take the results of that model and analyze them to a level of detail that distinguishes the precision that we might want to have around the results,” said Swanson.

Bill Swanson
Stantec’s Bill Swanson advocated for Temperance Flat Dam funding.

“I’m very disappointed with the way they scored a great project that needed to be built,” noted Santoyo. “And I am not happy about one commissioner from Orange Cove who stabbed us in the back and scolded us on why we did not meet the Public Benefit Ratio. We did meet and exceed that ratio, but the CWC disagreed with our ecosystem restoration model that had been used by both the state and the feds.”

Several Water Commissioners publicly wrangled with their staff on how they could make the project work. They sought areas to increase the project’s cost-benefit evaluation to get it funded.

Commissioner Joe Del Bosque read the ballot text of Prop 1, approved by California voters by 67 percent in 2014. He reminded those present that voters expected a water storage project to be built, adding, “We need to find more certainty in order to get Temperance Flat built.”

Commissioner Daniel Curtain distinguished two parts to the discussion—physical and monetary. “Take a look and see if there is a physical benefit for ecosystem restoration. Finding a potential benefit and attaching a potential monetary benefit could be helpful,” he said.

The project was also short on points for recreation opportunities on what would be a new lake behind the 600-foot high dam east of Fresno, behind Friant Dam. Commissioner Joseph Byrne said he hoped for more thought given to the recreation cost benefit. “Intuitively, zero benefit does not make sense. We need a higher level of confidence in the estimated recreation cost-benefit,” he said.

CWC staff stipulated that while the newly created lake behind Temperance Flat Dam would accommodate boating activity, the lack of camping, hiking, and other activities within the existing San Joaquin River Gorge neutralized any recreation benefits.

If built, the Temperance Flat Reservoir would contain 1.26 million acre-feet of new water storage above Millerton Lake, northeast of Fresno. Temperance would have helped provide a more reliable supply of fresh drinking water for disadvantaged Valley communities. It would have enabled below-surface groundwater recharge, addressed extreme land subsidence and provided critical help to farmers facing severe groundwater restrictions due to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Santoyo said the SJVWIA spent more than $2 million on the California Water Commission application, utilizing what he said were the most qualified engineers to develop the technical data required by Commission staff. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which administers California’s Central Valley Project for the U.S. Department of the Interior, has invested more than $38 million in studying the project. Santoyo said those studies supported the finding that the selected Temperance Flat site is the most preferred location for such a crucial project.

“The Fight For Water” Film On Amazon Prime

Award-Winning film by Juan Carlos Oseguera Expands

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

An award-winning documentary film on the California water crisis, The Fight for Water, has made its debut this week on Amazon Prime. This is its largest release, as Amazon has over 90 million Prime members in the U.S. alone.

Since its release in 2012, the documentary film has gone on to screen at numerous national and international film festivals, where it also won awards, and has continued to hold numerous community, library and college screenings around the nation. Because of this ongoing success, the film’s distributor, Passion River Films, felt the film could still find a greater audience through this online venue as well.

The 78-minute long movie features interviews with farmworkers and farmers, many who were members of the Latino Water Coalition. The Fight for Water film spotlights the 2009 historic Water March from Mendota to the San Luis Reservoir, as well as telling the stories of two central San Joaquin Valley farmers, Joe Del Bosque and George Delgado.

“Understanding water issues have captured the attention of many, not only in California but also around the nation and the world, the documentary serves not only as an educational film on water, but also offers a historical perspective on environmental issues,” said filmmaker Juan Carlos Oseguera.

The film specifically chronicles an environmental decision that affected a community, united an entire region and galvanized the entire state into action, all to fight for their right to water.

For more on the film, visit www.thefightforwaterfilm.com now.

Farm Workers Strive For Success

Farm Workers and Dreamers Work Hard To Reach the American Dream

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Joe Del Bosque is a diversified farmer in western Fresno and Merced counties. At one time, Del Bosque was a farm worker in the field and eventually was able to buy some acreage and expand over time. Now, Del Bosque has his own farm worker employees who are climbing the economic ladder like he did.

“When I see the farm workers on my farm, it’s like looking at my ancestors. It’s like looking at how hard they worked, working in the fields, picking crops, and so forth, and trying to do the best they can to raise their families and give their children a push-up the way I got it,” Del Bosque said.

“I know that my farm workers are trying to do the same thing. They’ve got children, they’re trying to push them up, and I see that happening because a lot of them have children in college right now. They’re getting educated, they’re going to go on to become professionals, and I’m very happy about that,” he said.

“There’s no doubt. They’re definitely climbing the economic ladder. I see on our farm that a lot of our farm workers have bought homes. Even some of the Dreamers, who are now at risk of being deported, have bought homes and they’re worried about what’s going to happen to them,” Del Bosque explained. “Some of them, and other folks in our communities that have invested in small businesses and so forth, have really become members of our society, of our economy, and their efforts are sometimes underappreciated.”

Del Bosque spoke of Dreamers that are working with him. “We have one, for instance – he does maintenance for us. He’s so skilled with repairing equipment and building things and so forth. He’s been with us for a while, and is a very valuable member of our team.”

Breaking News: The 5 Percenters May Not Receive All of Their Water Allocation

5 Percenters and Endangered Fish May Both Lose 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

Will the 5 Percenters—the Federal water users in California who were restricted by a 95% water allocation reduction this year—actually receive the promised 5% allocation? This scenario follows a more-than-average winter rainfall and snowfall throughout the state.

Ryan Jacobsenexecutive director and CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said, “arguably it’s turned out to be much worse. Right now, for the initial 5% allocation to even be questionable right now is just absolutely insane. It all boils down to the amount of water being held up in Lake Shasta for fish purposes, which has put a major stranglehold on what’s happening down here at this point,” noted Jacobsen.

Central Valley Project (CVP) Water
Central Valley Project (CVP) Water

At Shasta Reservoir, a keystone reservoir of the Central Valley Project, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation essentially discharged flood releases earlier this year just to make room for the water that was expected to come in.  Shasta now stands at a above average full for this time of year, because the Feds are holding all the water for release for salmon later.

This is part of the plan to have cold water available to release for the salmon. And Shasta actually has 30 percent more cold water than what they thought, and water leaders are pushing hard to get the Feds to release it for agriculture.

San Luis Reservoir dead pool
San Luis Reservoir at Dead Pool Status

And San Luis Reservoir is  at a dead-pool status, which insures no more water can be sent south from that reservoirDead pool means no more water can be drawn from San Luis Reservoir, which does not bode well.

Jacobsen said, “This means our federal contractors’ 5% is in question. And that’s the irony: we were looking at such a strong year—or at least an average year [of precipitation]—and ending up now where our meager water supply is in jeopardy. This is incomprehensible and inexcusable from the federal side.”

Shasta has both federal and state water, and the federal side is essentially nothing at this point, explained Jacobsen. “Farmers rely upon San Luis Reservoir water for July and August irrigation, “and the water is essentially gone at this point,” he said. “It just shows you the major mismanagement we’re seeing from the federal side and the inability to capture water even when it is available, and not at the demise of any of these species.”

Jacobsen reiterated, “Back when the precipitation was falling [last winter], water was available at some extraordinarily high levels; yet, we never saw the increase in pumping that we would have expected under the normal conditions. “Of course, we’ve seen less pumping this year for the farmers and the cities south of the Delta,” noted Jacobsen. “During the times of the rainfall this year, it was essentially excuse, after excuse, after excuse. Some newer excuses pertained to why the pumps were not operating or operating at a very reduced capacity,” explained Jacobsen.

“The situation has been frustrating for a couple of years, but the anger continues to build because right now, this is not a ‘Mother Nature’ issue. It is completely a man-made regulatory drought that is, again, just incompetency at its best.”

“When we talk about the water stored behind Shasta [Dam] right now, really it is for the fish,” noted Jacobsen. “The most-watched fishery, at this point, is the salmon fishery. We’re in year four of this drought, but when it comes to the critical side of fish, the salmon essentially operates in three-year cycles. The last two years have been arguably two of the worst years on record for them, and this potential third year is a kind of make-it-or-break-it for salmon fisheries in the Delta region.”

Unfortunately, per Jacobsen, many decisions have been based on guesstimates. “There are a lot of folks who think we need to reserve all of this cold water for a fishery that may or may not be responding to what has been done in the past for this [contracted irrigation] water that has been given up for those purposes,” Jacobsen explained. “Right now, I think we’re doing a lot of experiments at the cost of jobs and employment, and most importantly, the farms here in the San Joaquin Valley. The frustration is that science is really not playing a big part in it. A lot of decisions are just simply, ‘We think we should be doing this versus what the science actually says we should be doing.’”

Jacobsen’s leading frustration is that all that water taken from farmers and given to fish has not helped the fish at all. In fact, the smelt and salmon numbers continue to decline. “I talk about growing frustration and anger from so many folks in the last couple of years… specifically because it hasn’t made a difference,” said Jacobsen. “An exorbitant amount of water has been given up for these fisheries, [endangered fish populations] continue to decline and crash, and as we’ve been saying for years, it is beyond time to look at just the water exporters,” he added.

Jacobsen maintains other stressors should be seriously investigated. “Many other issues taken place in the Delta should be pulled into play here, but again the regulators and the environmentalists continue to look only at the exporters as the sole issue for fish decline. There are so many other factors out there that need to be looked at,” he said.


Highly recommenced reading: “We are the 5 percenters, stretching our water supplies to get by,” by Joe Del BosqueContributing writer, The Orange County Register, July 14, 2016.

Plea for Farmers to Engage with Consumers on Social Media

Joe Del Bosque’s Plea for Farmers to Engage with Consumers on Social Media 

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

 

While many farmers toil in the fields, consumers expend their energies on social media in the growing disconnect between farms and food. Joe Del Bosque, owner of Del Bosque Farms, Inc., and Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Agriculturalist of the Year, is one of the many farmers who has begun to appreciate the importance for farmers to engage with consumers on social media accounts. “Initially, I got involved to reach out to my customers,” Del Bosque said, “and make a connection so people would know who their farmer was and where their food came from. It’s invaluable because people really want to know not only where their food comes from and from whom, they want to know how they grow it. They too want to make a connection, and it’s up to us farmers to reach out to them because they won’t know how to find us.”

The use of social media over the last decade has increased tenfold with 65 percent of adults now actively using social media accounts according to “Social Media Usage: 2005-2015,” an October 2015 Pew Research Center study by Andrew Perrin. “So, if every farmer could reach out to two or three or 500 people,” explained Del Bosque, “we could reach a lot of people out there.”

For members of the agriculture industry looking to get involved in social media, Del Bosque advises they consider Facebook and Twitter first as they are probably the easiest two. “With Twitter, if you open up an account, you can start following a few people who are active. You could even retweet what they say out to your audience. That would be an easy way to get started.”

A July 2013 article on BufferSocial titled, “10 Surprising Social Media Statistics that will make you Rethink Your Strategy,” by Belle Beth Cooper, revealed that Twitter’s fastest growing demographic was the 55-64 year age bracket, jumping 79 percent from 2012-2013. On Facebook the fastest growing demographic in 2013 was the 45-54 year age bracket, up 46 percent from 2012-2013. Cooper recommended reaching adults 18-34 via YouTube, which reaches more adults in that age range than any cable network.

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To learn the ropes on social media, please view previous issues of The Golden Agricast:

October eNewsletter

November eNewsletter

Consider a free subscription here: The Golden Agricast- A Monthly eNewsletter.

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Links:

Cooper, Belle Beth, “10 Surprising Social Media Statistics that will make you Rethink Your Strategy,” BufferSocial, July 2013.

Del Bosque Farms, Inc.

Perrin, Andrew, “fa,” Pew Research Center, October 2015.

Fresno Ag Awards

Joe Del Bosque and Earl Hall Receive Ag Awards in Fresno

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

At the Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Ag Awards Luncheon on Oct. 28,  Westside farmer Joe Del Bosque and businessperson Earl Hall, owner of Hall Management Corp., a labor contracting company, received awards for their commitment to agriculture.

Honored as the Chamber’s 2015 Agriculturalist of the Year, Del Bosque, owner of Del Bosque Farms in Firebaugh, said, “It’s an honor to be here, and I’m so surprised to see not only my family here, but a lot of my friends as well as community leaders that I know. I’m just so pleased to have them attending and supporting. It really is an honor and I’m humbled. I mean, I saw the list of the folks who have been given this award; they’re some of the big leaders that I always look up to.”

Earl Hall
Earl Hall, owner of Hall Management Corp.

Del Bosque was honored for his open farm policy of allowing bloggers and city folks to visit his operation and observe what farming is all about. He also hosted President Obama on an historic visit on Feb. 14 2014. Del Bosque farms almonds, melons, cherries and asparagus and relies on his farm employees to get the crops harvested. He also is a governor-appointed member of the California Water Commission, a public forum to discuss water issues, advise the Department of Water Resources (DWR) on water policy and decides what storage projects to build with 2014 Water Bond funding.

Hall’s Kerman-based company, Hall Management Corp, received the Baker Peterson Franklin’s Ag Business Award. Hall said his company manages the farm production and all of the labor—all of whom work directly for his company—for several different agricultural companies across 500 thousand acres. “We do business in 26 counties around the state,” said Hall. “I’ve been doing this for 50 years, and it’s quite an honor that our company has been recognized today as the ag business company of the year. I have to give all the credit to my people.

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Founded in 1917, Baker Peterson Franklin, CPA, LLP is a full-service, locally-owned accounting and consulting firm in Fresno, California with a 45+ person staff.

With a membership of more than 1,400 businesses and organizations, the Fresno Chamber of Commerce promotes and supports the success of the regional business community through effective advocacy, education and relationship building.

Water Commission Meeting Delivers Passion and Controversy

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.

Documentary Film “The Fight for Water” premieres May 16 On Demand and at the Film’s Website

The award-winning documentary film, The Fight for Water: A Farm Worker Struggle, which highlights the 2009 Water Crisis as a cautionary tale on the current California drought, is making its way to Video on Demand May 16.  It will also be available for viewing through the film’s website at www.thefightforwaterfilm.com.

The film follows two farmers (Joe Del Bosque and George Delgado) and their farmworkers around their drought-stricken lands in order to understand how an environmental decision that took away their water impacted their lands, their way of life and their community.

Recently, Del Bosque was thrown into the national spotlight when President Barack Obama visited his drought-stricken farm to address the current water crisis in California.

Hollywood actor Paul Rodriguez is also featured in the film for his activism.  He helped organize a four-day march, in the style of Cesar Chavez, to draw attention to the dire situation that saw over 200,000 people in food lines. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also makes an appearance on the film.

The film was produced by Juan Carlos Oseguera, 40, a San Francisco State University alumnus who has been a published film critic and an accomplished producer and editor of several award-winning short films.

This is his first feature-length film.

The historical documentary, has screened at over 10 film festivals; winning accolades and worldwide recognition.  It received the Best Documentary award at the 2013 International Monarch Film Festival and at the 2013 Viña de Oro Fresno International Film Festival

The film also received runner-up honors for Best Documentary in Cinematography and for Best Political Documentary Film at the 2013 Action on Film International Film Festivalwhere it also received a nomination for Excellence in Filmmaking.

“It’s important that we understand that perspective of what the ‘Water Wars’ mean on a really, really human scale,” stated Lois Henry, a newspaper columnist who reviewed the film for The Bakersfield Californian. “People should see this film.”

For more information about the film visit: www.thefightforwaterfilm.com or www.facebook.com/thefightforwaterfilm

For interviews, film review requests or questions about the film, contact Filmunition Productions at filmunition@yahoo.com

“The Fight for Water” screens at Columbia College in Sonora, California

Historic Water March

The award-winning documentary, The Fight for Water: A Farm Worker Struggle”, has been invited to screen at 5:40 pm, Saturday, March 8th at Columbia College’s Dogwood Theatre  in Sonora, California, as part of the “Official Selection” at this year’s Back to Nature Film Fest Series.

Joe Del Bosque V
Joe Del Bosque

Presented by the college’s Forestry & Natural Resources Club and the ITSA Film Festival, the screening will be followed by a Q & A with the filmmaker.

The film documents the impact of a federal decision on people living in a Central Valley farming community in the Spring of 2009 when their water supply was cut off and they staged a march to fight for their water.

juancarlos5

The film proudly tells the humble story of Joe Del Bosque, who came from parents who were migrant farmworkers to become a farmer and a major Ag leader in the California Central Valley.

He was recently thrown into national spotlight when President Barack Obama visited his farm on February 14, 2014 to address the current drought in California.

Hollywood actor Paul Rodriguez, who helped organize the March for Water in the style of Cesar Chavez, and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are also featured in the film.

The documentary film, which serves as a cautionary tale and precursor to the current drought in California, has screened at over 10 film festivals, winning accolades and worldwide recognition. The film was produced by Juan Carlos Oseguera, 40, a San Francisco State University alumnus who has been a published film critic and an accomplished  producer of several award-winning short films. 

It recently received the Best Documentary award at the 2013 International Monarch Film Festival and at the 2013 Viña de Oro Fresno International Film Festival.  The film also received runner-up honors for Best Documentary in Cinematography and for Best Political Documentary Film at the 2013 Action on Film International Film Festival, where it also received a nomination for Excellence in Filmmaking.

No Water Logo

“People should see this film,” stated Lois Henry, a newspaper columnist who reviewed the film for The Bakersfield Californian.  “It’s important that we understand that perspective of what the ‘Water Wars’ mean on a really, really human scale.”

This is Oseguera’s first feature-length film.

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