Water Projects Were Built to Deliver Surface Water to Farmers
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor
Water is always a concern while farming on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Daniel Hartwig is the resource manager of Huron-based Woolf Farming and Processing. The company is a multi-generation and multi-crop farming business. Hartwig explains how monitoring and being proactive helps them stay ahead of some of the water issues.
“Like everybody, we’re concerned that there’s not going to be enough water to do everything we’re currently doing,” Hartwig said. “I think we’re just waiting to see and trying to be proactive and get ahead of a lot of these water issues, but at the same time, we’re monitoring it and hopeful that there will be more surface water to make up for what we might be stopped from pumping.”
Not having surface water is a big problem on the west side.
“The entire reason the California Aqueduct and other canals were built was to have surface water to mitigate against the issues they had back in the twenties, thirties, and forties. Back before there was surface water available,” Hartwig explained.
Hartwig said he thinks that President Trump’s memorandum could be helpful.
“Anything that’s going to help give us water and allow it to be more reliable is very helpful. However, the issue is timing and … anything that’s going to take more time is more water loss, and that creates a struggle for all of us,” he explained.
“Regarding pump drilling, there are always discussions going on, but I don’t think we’re at the point yet where we can make any of those decisions just because we don’t know for sure what’s … going to come down the pipeline,” Hartwig said. “We’re evaluating, and we’re monitoring, and trying to be involved in these groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) discussions.”
Again, having surface water is the key to the future, noted Hartwig.
“The lack of surface water is a huge problem. I mean, we would not have to pump as much groundwater if we were able to get as much water as we are supposed to be receiving from the state and federal water projects,” Hartwig said.
The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) recently announced their Top Issues for 2019. Members were surveyed in December 2018 and ranked the top issues for CFFA to concentrate on in 2019.
President of the California Fresh Fruit Association, George Radanovich, stated “As in years past, our membership has given us strong direction in identifying their top priorities for 2019. The issues of labor, water, and food safety, will lead our list of issues. CFFA will continue to serve as the primary liaison between regulatory and legislative authorities by acting as the unified voice for our members on these and many other issues.”
Here are the results:
1) Federal Immigration Policies Addressing Current and Future Labor Force
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.
Founded in 2009, the California Water Alliance is the leading educational voice and authority on California water. The Alliance is a 501c4 nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that advocates for the water needs of California families, cities, businesses, farms, and the environment. The California Water Alliance is working to assist the farming community in multiple ways. Being transparent is at the forefront.
William Bourdeau is executive VP of Harris Farms and a board member of the Alliance. The alliance is telling the truth and being transparent, and that is very important, he said.
Bourdeau explained that California farmers, need water to feed the nation, and it is important to take an interest in the agricultural industry.
“The farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are the most regulated, the most skilled, and the hardest working people I’ve ever met in my life,” he said. “Water and food are critical to any nation, and it’s not only important so we can provide the food for our children, but it’s important for national security reasons.”
“And this is not a California-centric issue. We grow food that people eat all across the country, and so everybody needs to take an interest in this and understand that it’s important that we have a vibrant agricultural industry because, without it, we will become vulnerable,” Bourdeau said.
The understanding of what factors are associated with farming in California is important for the general public to be educated. Anyone that is consuming safe, affordable, nutritious food needs to better understand where that food comes from and what effort is required to produce it.
“This isn’t easy. There are many, many factors that increase the challenge and risk associated with growing food. It’s capital intensive. It requires water. There are many, many opportunities to fail and we’re underappreciated and over-regulated,” Bourdeau said.
Everything is On Table For California’s Water Future
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
Now is the time to unite and plan California’s water infrastructure. That’s what Adam Gray told California Ag Today recently. Gray is the California State Assembly representing the 21st Assembly District, Merced and Stanislaus Counties. He said there is an urgent need for unification in regards to California’s water and the need for real changes to be made for future generations.
“It’s that famous quote, ‘Water’s for fighting. Whiskey’s for drinking.’ All we do is spend our time fighting, and we cannot continue to divide the pie. We have to grow the pie. That means targeted, intelligent investments in storage, projects like Temperance Flat, projects like Sites Reservoir,” Gray explained.
It is hoped that these reservoirs get California through years of drought, and will help us utilize water and years of heavy rain.
“It also means recycling, groundwater recharge, desal, and it means communities working together to make sure we have the conveyance systems in place to move that water around and meet the need of every Californian, and stop forcing people into false choices,” Gray said.
“The environment versus drinking water for schools. These are false choices. We can do better, we can do more,” he continued.
“We, as Californians, need to look past the short term into the long term. It’s important to look out for future generations and keep their needs in mind, as well,” Gray said.
“There’s no silver bullet solution, as is true with anything. There are always costs of doing business, there are always compromises to be made, if we can agree on the target.” he noted. “And the target being meeting the needs of not just of this generation, not just today, but of our children’s generation and our grand-children’s.”
“We need to make the same smart, significant investments that our grandparents made to provide us with this great economy that we have here in this great agricultural valley,” Gray said.
Temperance Flat is a Sure Way to Improve California’s Water Infrastructure
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
Mario Santoyo is the Executive Director for the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority. He spoke to California Ag Today about Temperance Flat, a proposal supported by the Joint Powers of Authority composed of five counties: Merced, Madera, Fresno, Tulare and Kings County. In addition to those counties, there are representatives from the eastern side cities, (Orange Cove) and western side cities, (Avenal)
“We also have water agencies, such as the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors,” Santoyo said. “The JPA is also in the process of dealing with membership requests by Friant Water Authority and the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority.”
“You can see we’ve got a pretty elaborate team as far as the authority,” Santoyo said. “It was put together in order to pursue funding opportunities both by the state of California and the federal government to build revenue leading towards the construction of the Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir project, which will be located just north of Friant Dam on Millerton Lake, and actually would be built in Millerton Lake … expanding that reservoir.”
The five counties got together on this because they understand fully the importance of creating a more reliable water supply for the area. Santoyo said, “It was proven to be a problem when we had the five-year drought and the Valley had to exercise its groundwater pumping, which plummeted the groundwater levels so much that … it actually resulted in what is now the Groundwater Sustainability Law.”
“So there’s no question this project is greatly needed, and the irony is that this year, coming out of a five-year drought, we’ve got high runoff, and the Bureau of Reclamation had to make flood releases in order to not exceed the capacity at Friant Dam/Millerton Lake,” Santoyo explained. “We fully expect that they will have made up to 2.5 million acre feet of releases down the river to the ocean. Then if you stop and think about what that means, it basically you could roughly say it’s about two years’ worth of water supply for the eastern side of the Valley.”
“There are those who would argue that we would never fill up the Temperance Flat Reservoir,” Santoyo said. “Well, not only have we done it twice this year, we also have a history—a long history—of this … [being] the common scenario.”
When there is high runoff water, it doesn’t come in little bits, it comes in huge amounts. “I think we looked at the record, and 50% of the time that we have high runoff, we usually have to make flood releases in excess of one million acre feet, so that’s why the size that was determined for Temperance Flat was just a little bit over a million acre feet,” Santoyo said.
“Now having that, it’s actually 1.2 million acre feet that it adds to the system. When you add it to … the balance of what’s left with the original, we’re close to 1.8 million acre feet,” Santoyo said.
“It will triple the capacity of Millerton, ensuring that for the future, that [there is] a chance to maximize the available water supply for the cities, for the farms, and most importantly, to recharge the groundwater and put us back into a level that we’re stable and that residents, farmers and others can use that groundwater and not be restricted by the new groundwater sustainability laws,” said Santoyo, adding, “If we don’t solve that problem, the world is going to change dramatically for our farmers, number one, and it will have an immediate effect also on our cities.”
Santoyo describes the recharge opportunities. “What we’ll be doing is with Temperance Flat, we will be making timed releases to various water districts and entities that will have groundwater recharging basins, and they will be syncing it, but you need time,” he said.
“You need storage, and you need time to be able to move water from above ground to below ground. That’s just a physical necessity, and that’s part of the argument against those that argue, ‘Don’t build above, you only need below.’ Well, if you don’t have water above, you aren’t putting it below. It’s just as simple as that,” Santoyo explained.
Temperance Flat would be ideal for the state of California. “The Friant-Kern Canal is the longest of the two primary canals. The other one is the Madera Canal. The Madera moves it north to Chowchilla. The Friant moves it south to Bakersfield, so yeah, those are the primary conveyance systems for farmers and cities,” he said.
Recently a video that educates the public on the value of Temperance Flat, released on YouTube called Build Temperance Flat. We ask all who are active on social media to grab a link of the video and post it on Facebook and Twitter as well as other social media platforms.