President Signs Rep. Jeff Denham’s Water Storage Legislation

President signs Denham Water Storage Legislation

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

 President Donald Trump signed into law recently legislation written by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) to authorize financing of new water storage projects as part of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (WRDA).

 “With the signing of this bill into law, we are bringing water home to the Valley,” Denham said. “I’ve been fighting since day one in Washington to build more water storage for our farmers and neighbors. Today, we celebrate future generations having access to the water they need and deserve.”

 Denham’s New WATER Act provides financing for water projects throughout the western United States, including new reservoirs, below ground storage projects, recycling, and desalination projects. For Sites Reservoir alone, this policy will save hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs and significantly lower prices for water users.

Rep. Jeff Denham

In California and across the west, this means billions of dollars saved as we build the necessary infrastructure to capture the plentiful run-off from the Sierras, which can be used to irrigate the Valley and save for the dry years. During the rains of 2017, we saw how our inadequate storage quickly filled reservoirs, wasting water, and led to flooding and levee breaches—issues Denham secured language for in the WRDA bill.

Additionally, the bill enhances long-delayed and badly needed local flood protection for more than 50,000 Valley residents. Rep. Denham hosted the highest ranking civilian responsible for water infrastructure in the Army Corps of Engineers, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Rickey “R.D.” James, in Manteca recently to ensure quick completion of ongoing construction and prioritization of the projects in the bill.

The Army Corps is responsible for managing these projects, and R.D. James saw firsthand how critical water infrastructure is in Stanislaus and San Joaquin County, including the levees near Manteca that were breached in 2017. These levees are currently being restored with federal funding.

To build upon these infrastructure improvements, additional Denham language in the WRDA bill makes additional levee authorizations in San Joaquin County eligible for federal resources to protect our communities. Denham also included language to expedite the feasibility study of the Mossdale Tract, or Reclamation District 17, which includes the French Camp veterans treatment facility.

ACP Quarantine in San Joaquin County, Guidelines and Scholarship

Expanded ACP Quarantine

Two portions of San Joaquin County have been placed under Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) quarantine following detections of one ACP within the City of Manteca and one within the City of Lodi. The quarantine zone in Manteca measures 105 square miles and in Lodi it measures 95 square miles.

The quarantine prohibits the movement of citrus and curry tree nursery stock out of the quarantine area and requires that all citrus fruit be cleaned of leaves and stems prior to moving out of the quarantine area. An exception may be made for nursery stock and budwood grown in USDA-approved structures that are designed to keep ACP and other insects out. Residents with backyard citrus trees in the quarantine area are asked not to transport citrus fruit or leaves, potted citrus trees, or curry leaves from the quarantine area.

Asian citrus psyllid (Source: UC ANR)
Asian citrus psyllid (Source: UC ANR)

The ACP, a tiny (0.125 in. length) mottled brown insect that is about the size of an aphid, is an invasive species of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening. All citrus and closely related species such as curry trees are susceptible, and there is no cure. Once infected, a diseased tree will decline in health with yellowing shoots, asymmetrical leaf mottling and abnormally shaped bitter fruit until it dies—typically within three years.  HLB was detected once in California, in 2012, on a residential property in Hacienda Heights, Los Angeles County.  This plant disease does not affect human health.

Residents in the area who think they may have seen ACP or symptoms of HLB on their citrus trees are urged to call CDFA’s Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899.  For more information on the ACP and HLB, please visit: www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/acp

ACP Effective Treatments

The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program  has developed treatment guidelines for citrus growers within the quarantine zones. A general principle when applying insecticides to control ACPs in commercial citrus is that no one insecticide fully controls ACP across all life stages because:

  • All stages are difficult to contact with insecticides; eggs and nymphs are tucked inside new foliage and adults can fly.
  • Some insecticides show better efficacy against one stage over another.
  • Because systemic neonicotinoid insecticides require root activity for uptake, they are best applied during June through September.

The UC IPM Guidelines for Citrus provides a ranked list of insecticides that are effective against the Asian citrus psyllid with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honeybees, and the environment are at the top of the table.

According to Mark Hoddle, UC Riverside (UCR) Director, Center for Invasive Species Research, “The science of biological control, the use of a pest’s natural enemies to suppress its populations to less damaging densities,” shows promise against the ACP with releases over the last three years of Tamarixia radiata–a parasitic wasp from Pakistan–in urban areas of southern California Thus far, this natural ACP enemy helps to control ACP growth in residential areas, but is inadequate for commercial application.

Biological Control Scholarship Fund

Harry Scott Smith (Source: Citrus Research Board, "Citrograph")
Harry Scott Smith (Source: Citrus Research Board, “Citrograph”)

Harry Scott Smith was the first to use the phrase “biological control” in 1919 at the meeting of Pacific Slope Branch of the American Association of Economic Entomologists at the Mission Inn in Riverside. Smith worked on the biological control of gypsy moth with USDA, then moved to the University of California Riverside where he eventually created and chaired the Department of Biological Control, which offered the only graduate degree in biological control in the world.

The Harry Scott Smith Biological Control Scholarship Fund at UCR aims to attract the brightest students to study biological control by providing assistance to its students to attend conferences to present their research or to participate in training workshops. More information on the Scholarship, past awardees, and a list of donors can be reviewed on the website.

Sources: CDFA; UC IPM; UC Riverside (UCR); UCR Center for Invasive Species Research; USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

Van Groningen & Sons In Full Harvest Mode

Bryan Van Groningen, with Van Groningen & Sons, a farming operation in Manteca, in San Joaquin County says the operation  is in full harvest mode, rounding out what has been a good year.

“Right now we’re still in peak season of the watermelon harvest. We’re also getting geared up for the pumpkin season. We are going to be harvesting some of our ornamental gourds pretty soon, and that’s going to lead into our normal-sized pumpkins of all types of varieties. That’s going to get underway soon, probably in another week, and will continue all the way until the end of October. We are just completing our sweet corn harvest, and almond harvest has begun as well,” said Van Groningen.

Van Groningen thinks the drought has affected pricing this year. “I think the lack of water up and down the state has affected the pricing because it has been pretty strong. We haven’t had those valleys in some of the pricing throughout the season, but I think, further down south, guys are irrigating only their permanent crops and going into more of their higher-dollar crops. For crops like sweet corn, there are not a lot of acres growing in California, and that has kept the price high,” said Van Groningen.

The farm’s water supply was sufficient this year, but Van Groningen is guarded about the future. “We’re fortunate in our areas because we are irrigating most of our land with a deep well, and we don’t have to rely on district water so much, so we are kind of lucky. We are in control of our own water supply,” he said.

Van Groningen notes that the operation has had well issues.  “We did have one well collapse on us, so that tells me the water table continues to drop. We irrigate from probably 60 different deep wells, and I’d say one out of sixty–that isn’t  too big of a problem at this point. But if it continues this way, and we remain in a drought, and we don’t get enough rainfall to recharge some of that groundwater, it’s going to get pretty dicey, I think,” he said.