California Farm Bureau Federation Honors Paul Wenger

Former CFBF President Paul Wenger Gets Distinguished Service Award

News Release From California Farm Bureau Federation

Citing his passion for agriculture, his tenacity, and his decades of service to Farm Bureau, the California Farm Bureau Federation presented its Distinguished Service Award to former CFBF President Paul Wenger. Wenger accepted the award during the organization’s 100th Annual Meeting last night in San Diego.

A third-generation farmer who grows almonds and walnuts on a family farm in Modesto, Wenger served as CFBF president from 2009 to 2017, ending his term after serving the maximum eight years in office. He has been a Stanislaus County Farm Bureau member since 1980, serving as county farm bureau president before being elected to the CFBF board and then as a statewide officer beginning in 1997, when he was elected the organization’s second vice president. Wenger also served on the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors.

Current CFBF President Jamie Johansson described his predecessor as “tireless” in his work on behalf of the farm bureau and California agriculture.

“In his speech to our Annual Meeting last year, Paul reminded us that those who work the hardest, the longest, and invest the most are probably going to be successful. Although he was referring to Farm Bureau, the words certainly apply to Paul himself. He has remained actively involved in Farm Bureau and agriculture, and we look forward to his continued contributions,” Johansson said.

In nominating Wenger for the award, the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau pointed to his “lifetime in leadership roles in agriculture,” starting as a state Future Farmers of America officer in 1973, and cited “his passion for the industry and his tenacity to resolve problems and get things done.”

The Distinguished Service Award has been presented annually since 1953 to dedicated Farm Bureau volunteers from California. In addition to the award to Wenger, CFBF presented the Distinguished Service Award to longtime Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau leader James Marler.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 5.6 million Farm Bureau members.

Water Board’s Water Grab From Rivers Will Impact Domestic Water

State Water Resources Control Board Plan is “Pseudo-Science”

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Over one thousand farmers and stakeholders gathered at the California state capital building in Sacramento in August to protest the California Water Resources Control Board’s recent proposed Water Grab.

Ronda Lucas, General Counsel with the Modesto Irrigation District, explained to California Ag Today that the water board’s plan would severely impact Modesto citizens.

Modesto Irrigation District provides surface drinking water to the city of Modesto.

“If you take away Modesto Irrigation District surface water, you take away the domestic water supply for the entire city of Modesto, and they did not consider any of that in there,” Lucas said.turlock irrigation canal

The California Water Resources Control Board seriously underestimated the impact that their water grab would have on surrounding communities.

“Their science is shaky at best; it’s pseudo-science frankly,” Lucas said.

Modesto Irrigation District has spent more than $25 million in studies for over a decade specifically on the Tuolumne River with their partner, Turlock Irrigation District.

“We have presented them with a plan that gives them more fish that is sustainable, that protects groundwater, that protects surface water, and that allows everybody to get better together. This is our river,” Lucas said.

Also, Don Pedro is one of the few reservoirs and facilities that has zero state funding. The residents of Turlock, Turlock Irrigation District, and the Modesto Irrigation District paid 100 percent with a little federal money with Army Corp to build that facility.

“Because of that foresight, the state is going to come and try and take it and it is not theirs to take and we cannot let it happen,” Lucas explained.

40 Percent Water Grab Continues to Be Big Concern

Growers Will Fight Back

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Recently, over one thousand farmers and other stakeholders attended a rally in Sacramento outside the capital building, protesting the California State Water Resources Control Board’s proposed Water Grab, which consists of over 40 percent of the water from Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers to increase flows for salmon. California Ag Today spoke with Ronda Lucas, General Counsel with the Modesto Irrigation District.

Unfortunately, the state does not need to pick this fight, but they are choosing to.

“In ignoring our science in the process, one of the major deficiencies of the plan is the state board’s refusal,” Lucas said.

Rhonda Lucas

Lucas would like the water board to be intellectually honest about the linkage and the impact this will have on groundwater.

“They simply say that we’ll just get more water. There is no more water,” she said.

California is not in a critical overdraft area.

“Our sub base in the Modesto subbasin is in better shape than many, but that’s because we’ve been such good stewards,” Lucas said.

This plan will destroy the health of the groundwater basin.

Lucas says that many communities in the area could be impacted heavily. Some communities’ sole water source is groundwater, and this plan will dry up their drinking water.

“There will be school children that don’t have the basic needs to live, and we know it. And we’ve told the state board that, and they don’t seem to care,” Lucas said.

The bigger problem that is not well known is that the state is trying to come in and run the dam operation long-term.

“If the state is in charge of Don Pedro and the running of our facilities, which we believe to be illegal, we do not know what they are going to do because they have not had a good track record thus far,” Lucas explained.

Marin County Farm Bureau Fights Back on Water Grab

More Water For Fish Will Not Work

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Recently in Sacramento, over one thousand farmers and other stakeholders attended a rally outside the Capitol building to protest the State Water Resources Control Board water grab. Over 40 percent of the water from Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers may be sent to increase flows for salmon. California Ag Today spoke with Sam Dolcini with the Marin County Farm Bureau about the issue.

“I am here because water is critical to the entire agricultural infrastructure in the state of California. We have many dairies in our county that depend on the water from other parts of the state,” he said.

Marin County Farm Bureau
Sam Dolcini

The proposal would dedicate 40 percent of unimpaired flows along the Tuolumne River alone between February and June. This water would be used for fish, wildlife, and salinity control. This would be a huge increase in water currently used for environmental purposes, with water already in short supply.

“This can be devastating for valley farmers, which is why they flock this week to the Capitol building to be sure their voices are heard,” Dolcini said.

Ronda Lucas, General Counsel with the Modesto Irrigation district, agrees that this water grab could be devastating.

“We are one of the six senior water rights holders,” she said. “They are taking the waterfront, and the impact that will have on the Modesto irrigation district will just be devastating.”

National Farm Safety Week in the Golden State

California Agriculture Takes National Farm Safety Week Seriously

 

 By Patrick Cavanaugh Farm News Director

 

California is focused on National Farm Safety Week across all commodities and in all areas of the state. Amy Wolfe, president and CEO of AgSafe, based in Modesto, said National Farm Safety Week takes place in September because it is such a critical juncture for folks. “We’re gearing up at the beginning of harvest, or the middle of harvest for some, and it’s the end of harvest for others,” said Wolfe.

 

“It’s really a great opportunity to make sure you’re either taking a look at what’s going on in your operation and making those necessary mid-harvest adjustments, or evaluating what went well or what could be improved upon.”

lockout tagout agsafe safety

 

Sadly, Wolfe shared, Farm Safety Week follows a tragedy that occurred during the week of September 12 “when lack of agricultural safety cost somebody their life in the Huron area of Fresno County. We’ve had a fatality in our nut industry, which just continues to be—number one—a tragedy for those of us who work in agriculture. It is also a very significant reminder of the importance of addressing such issues as lockout-tagout, which ensures that equipment is properly shut down before any maintenance,” said Wolfe.

 

“There needs to be strict communication between everyone around the machine. Everyone should know why it may be shut down and why they should never restart the machine until everyone is cleared,” noted Wolfe. In addition, all equipment must be maintained so that it runs properly in the field. “We also need to make sure that good systems of communication are in place when someone is injured.

 

AgSafe is recognizing Farm Safety week in many creative ways this week. “This is the week to reflect on how well we are doing everything that we possibly can to protect our farmworkers,” Wolfe said. “If you book for Farm First Aid Training with us by Friday, you’ll receive a 10% discount. We are going to enter folks into a drawing at the end of the week for free attendance to the 2017 AgSafe Conference if you participate in some of the fun Q&As on Facebook and @AgSafeOnline on Twitter,” Wolfe said.

 

“We will also offer specials every day this week on our tailgate training kits, our pesticide decontamination kits, and on our compliance binders,” said Wolfe. “Its our way of getting folks even more engaged, and giving discounts for our services in honor of a very important week for the industry.”

 

For more information on these tailgate training kits and other events, go to Agsafe.org.


AgSafe is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to providing employers and employees in the agricultural industry with education and resources to prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

RECYCLED WATER PROJECT FOR WATER STABILITY, PART 4

Recycled Water Project for Water Stability: Takes Shape, Part 4

By Brian German, Associate Editor and Broadcaster

As part of our ongoing coverage on the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program (NVRRWP), we spoke with Anthea Hansen, general Manager of the Del Puerto Water District. Over the next few months the project will start to take shape following the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation signing the Record of Decision last month, the high level of cooperation taking place among all the different entities, and positive public response.

Del Puerto Water District dpwdHansen commented, “I can’t speak enough about our good experience thus far. The cities, partners and consultants on the project have come together to really advance this concept—which was all it was seven or eight years ago —into something that will become a reality.

When demands are low in the Del Puerto water district, specifically in the winter months, water deliveries can flow to storage facilities or the San Luis Reservoir for later usage when demand is high. While many areas have already been using recycled water for agricultural needs, the progress by the North Valley program has inspired some communities to improve their own water policies.

Recycled water has long been used in agriculture in other areas of the state, most notably the Salinas Valley and in the south, maybe a little bit up in the north in the winegrape country. The Del Puerto Water District currently relies on water delivered through the Central Valley Project, which had zero deliveries for the previous two years, and are only providing 5% this year. This new program has the potential to produce more than 30,000 acre-feet of water per year as soon as 2018.

NVRRWP map recycled water
NVRRWP map (Source: www.nvr-recycledwater.org/description.asp)

Among an estimated 100 recycled water projects in various stages of development throughout the state, Hansen stated, “For the Central Valley, I think this is definitely a big first. We received about 14 public comments on the joint environmental document. Of those 14, three or four were letters of support, and we received some broad support from the environmental community. 

A project of this magnitude to deliver needed water stability could also be accomplished in other dedicated communities, according to Hansen. “We believe this project to be a model for other municipal and agricultural agencies in ways to regionally solve issues together, and hopefully, it will be a model for the nation.”

Anthea_Hansen
Anthea Hansen, general Manager of the Del Puerto Water District

“Hopefully,” said Hansen, “people are looking at this as a good example of ways to think outside the box and use available technology to solve problems locally and regionally, which is what we have been forced to do here on the Westside.

“With all the complexities of California’s plumbing,” explained Hansen, “it would be impossible for a small district like Del Puerto to really affect any of the big picture changes, but we certainly do have the ability to affect how we act locally and regionally. I also think the Central Valley has not historically been a magnet for a lot of assistance, programs or changes that work to our benefit, so we have to devise these for ourselves or we’ll be out be of business. I’m very thankful that the two cities—Modesto and Turlockon the east side of the river in our county, were willing to work with us, and I think we have a good partnership going forward.”


AAEES logo Leadership and Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science

 

The North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program (Phase 3) won the 2015 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science™ Competition – Honor Award – Planning from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists.

Recycled Water Project for Water Stability: Collaborative Funding, Part 3

Anthea Hansen on Collaborative Funding

By Brian German, Associate Editor

Part 3 of our ongoing coverage of the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program with Anthea Hansen, general manager of the Del Puerto Water District, described how the district was able to secure funding for a project of this magnitude.

“In our partnership with the cities of Modesto and Turlock and what I’ll call ancillary partners in Stanislaus County and the City of Ceres, we have leaned heavily on our partners for advanced funding,” Hansen said. Turlock and Modesto will be providing the Del Puerto Water District with treated, recycled water transported by direct pipeline to the Delta-Mendota canal for temporary storage. From there, the water will be distributed to agricultural customers within the Del Puerto service area.

Acknowledging the shared financial burden of getting the project off the ground, Hansen shared, “We have very solid agreements in place and the cities have assisted the district by fronting a great portion of the effort thus far—on the condition that once the project comes to fruition, they will recoup all of their input costs, plus a guaranteed revenue stream on the water supply over the life of the partnership. So it’s worked very well,” she said.

NVRRWP map recycled water
NVRRWP map (Source: www.nvr-recycledwater.org/description.asp)

Hansen also noted her appreciation for the collaboration among the people in her area and for their understanding that comprise is a much more effective way to achieve water goals, particularly given that many sectors of the community are competing for limited water supplies. “Del Puerto ratepayers have certified they are willing to pay the entire cost of the project,” Hansen said, “including all costs incurred thus far. So, agriculture will fund the delivery system and the water supply,” adding again that upfront funding by cities at the beginning of the project aided the situation.

Forging strong community partnerships to achieve a more stability water supply is key, according to Hansen, “because we haven’t been in a position to put up the risk capital and the money in advance of water deliveries, so it’s been a truly remarkable public-private partnership that we’ve developed,” she said.

 

Recycled Water Project for Water Stability, Part 2

North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program Projected Completion

By Brian German, Associate Editor

In our continued coverage of the monumental North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program (NVRRWP), Anthea Hansen, general manager of the Del Puerto Water District, talked about the projected completion for the project.

Anthea Hansen, general manager, Del Puerto Water District
Anthea Hansen, general manager, Del Puerto Water District

“We estimate the pipeline will be completed by December 2017—less than two years,” Hansen stated. “The first year’s combined quantities, if both cities (Turlock and Modesto) are online at the start date, will be somewhere between 25K and 30K acre-feet per year,” Hansen calculated.

NVRRWP will convey recycled water from Turlock and Modesto, currently being discharged into the San Joaquin River, instead to the Delta-Mendota Canal via pipeline for storage purposes and later use. “The sense that we all have here,” said Hansen, “is that this transaction and this accomplishment will change the future of the Del Puerto Water District for the better. It will give us some stability in our base [water] supply that we know will come year in and year out.”

After many years of working with various agencies and collaborating with  multiple cities, the project has passed all of its major hurdles and is set to break ground within the next few months. Using recycled water from treatment plants will reduce reliance on unsustainable groundwater supplies and also lower the amount of water pumped from the Delta.

NVRRWP map recycled water
NVRRWP map (Source: NVRRWP map)

“People use water in the cities every day, 365 days a year,” explained Hansen. “The reliability of the supply is so important to us because, for such a long time, we have not had reliability in our water supply,” Hansen noted.

“We have 40-year agreements in place with both cities,” she continued. “As a result of the program, even in the first years, each irrigable acre in the district will receive somewhere between one half to three-quarters of an acre-foot of guaranteed water supply, year in and year out.”

Hansen added the project will sustain a growing population. “Over time,” she remarked, “as the cites grow and the populations expand, the quantities of water are projected to grow over the build-out period for the project.”

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See Also: Recycled Water Project for Water Stability, Part 1, “North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program: A New Water Source for Valley Farmers,” June 14, 2015.

Additional Benefits of the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program

Recycled Water Project for Water Stability, Part 1

North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program: A New Water Source for Valley Farmers

Part One of a Five-Part Series

By Brian German, Associate Editor

Anthea Hansen, general manager of the Patterson, Calif.-based Del Puerto Water District, described the exciting work to bring more water stability in the form of recycled water to multiple Central Valley cities—in our five-part series on the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program (NVRRWP)

“After six and a half years of effort,” Hansen said, “we have fully completed all of our environmental documentation, and most of the permitting is in hand.” Recently, the partners have interviewed and selected the preferred firm to construct the Modesto component of the project, so that process is underway.”

cropped-cropped-SLDMWA200x200Logo101714NVRRWP is a collaborative partnership that includes the cities of Modesto, Turlock and Ceres along with the Del Puerto Water District and Stanislaus County to solve the region’s water supply and reliability problemsThe program will provide a new source of water for agricultural customers in the Del Puerto Water District (DPWD), whose supplies have been severely impacted by drought and by environmental restrictions on pumping water from the Delta. Hansen noted the collaboration was the largest obstacle they were able to overcome.

“One of the biggest things that happened recently, a day we were all looking forward to,” noted Hansen, “is when the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) executed the record of decision for our project, a document that supports not only the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation but also the signing of a long-term contract. It will allow us to convey and store the recycled water in federal facilities,” she said, “and it will also support the sharing of a portion of the water with the wildlife refugees south of the Delta. That was a big milestone for our project.”

The cities of Turlock and Modesto will provide treated, recycled water to the Del Puerto Water District through a direct pipeline into the Delta-Mendota Canal. The district will then distribute that water to the agricultural customers within its service area.

After so many years already invested in the project, Hansen is excited the plan is coming together. “We worked lockstep with Reclamation for over three years,” Hansen said, “and we did some very extensive and thorough analysis. We had a great team and a good working relationship, and it looks like we are nearing the end of assembling all of the different pieces of this very complicated puzzle.”

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Resources:

Del Puerto Water District

North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program Map

Recycled Water Uses Allowed in California 

The Citizen’s Guide to the National Environmental Policy Act

San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority Member Agencies Map

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See also, “Recycled Wastewater Could Help Growers in Del Puerto Water District, June 9, 2015.

Water Regulators Operate in Silos

State Senator Cannella Says Water Regulators Operate in Silos

By Laurie Greene Editor

California State Senator Anthony Cannella, (R-Ceres), who represents District 12, the Westside of the Central San Joaquin Valley from Modesto to Coalinga, knows how growers must feel about so much fresh water from recent rain and early snowmelt flowing out to the ocean instead of being stored for future use. Cannella, who is currently serving as vice chairman of the Agriculture Committee said, “Obviously growers are out there; they have their life savings out there; they have been relying on water from the State Water Project or they have been relying on reservoirs; and the state has been taking more and more of their water due to ESA restrictions.”

“If farmers do not have surface water again this year,’ he continued, “they are going to pump from the groundwater. But state and federal officials do not see the connection that no surface water means more groundwater pumping. It would be much more sustainable if farmers could receive more surface water instead of having it flow out to the ocean.”

Cannella said, “Water regulators operate in silos. On one hand, they say groundwater has to be at an equilibrium; and, on the other hand, they say that they cannot pump much fresh water into reservoirs. They don’t combine the two; they don’t connect the two; and I think that is wrong.”

“If you are going to regulate or take away surface storage, there will be an impact on groundwater,” explained Cannella. “But the state does not operate that way, and that is why we are having the problem we are having,” he said.