Farm Water Coalition Shames State Water Resources     

Farm Water Coalition Shames SWRCB Over Proposal 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

The California Farm Water Coalition (Coalition) was formed in 1989 to increase public awareness of agriculture’s efficient use of water and to promote the industry’s environmental sensitivity regarding water.

Mike Wade, executive director of the Sacramento-based Coalition, has major concerns about the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)‘s proposal of taking 40% of the water from many irrigation districts along three rivers that flow into the San Joaquin River to protect an endangered fish. The SWRCB proposes to divert water from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced Rivers to increase flows in the Sacramento Delta.

Mike Wade, executive director, California Farm Water Coalition
Mike Wade, executive director, California Farm Water Coalition

Wade explained, “The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is important for the United States, and we want to see it work. However, it’s not working. It’s not helping fish, and it’s hurting communities.” But Wade wants to revise the ESA “in how we deal with some of the species management issues.”

Wade said SWRCB is doubling down on the same tired, old strategy that is not going to work any more now than it has in the past. “What happened in the past isn’t helping salmon. What’s happened in the past isn’t helping the delta smelt. You’d think someone would get a clue that maybe other things are in play, there are other factors that need to be addressed.”

The State Water Resources Control Board estimated the proposed 40% diversion of river flow would decrease agricultural economic output by 64 million or 2.5% of the baseline average for the region.

Ag officials warn that if the proposal goes through it would force growers in the area to use more groundwater—which they have largely avoided because the Turlock Irrigation District and Oakdale Irrigation District historically met the irrigation need of local farms.

This is the only agricultural area in the Central Valley that does not have critical overdraft problems. If the state takes away 40% of water available to growers, it could lead to a critical overdraft issue there as well.

Upcoming CDFA Meeting to Discuss Dairy Digester Research Program

Dairy Digesters Are Needed to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is developing a new program, the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, authorized by the Budget Act of 2014 (Chapter 25, Statutes of 2014). CDFA was appropriated $12 million dollars from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to provide financial assistance for the installation of dairy digesters in California, which will result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

CDFA will administer the program in two phases, beginning with Phase I, Dairy Digester Development and Phase II, Research. An estimated $11 million in competitive grant funding will be awarded to provide financial assistance for the implementation of dairy digesters that result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and provide other environmental benefits (Phase I). An estimated $500,000 will be made available for research and demonstration projects that improve the economic performance of dairy digesters (Phase II).

Three public stakeholder meetings have been scheduled in November 2014 to explain the new program and to receive comments and suggestions. These public meetings will be held on the following dates and at the following locations:

Thursday, November 6, 2014 – 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

University of California Cooperative Extension Stanislaus County

3800 Cornucopia Way

Room: HI

Modesto, CA 95358

 

Monday, November 10, 2014 – 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

University of California Cooperative Extension Tulare County

4437 S. Laspina Street (Across the street from World Ag Expo)

Room: Tulare County Agricultural Building Auditorium

Tulare, CA 93274

 

Thursday, November 13, 2014 – 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Includes Webinar access!

California Department of Food and Agriculture

1220 N Street Room: Auditorium

Sacramento, CA 95814

 

The meeting on November 13 will include a webinar to allow remote attendance.

 

More information about this program is available on the CDFA Environmental Stewardship websiteFor additional information on dairy digesters, click on: California EPA Digesters and California EPA Anaerobic Digestion.