Agricultural Water Use Efficiency & State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program

Agricultural Water Use Efficiency Grant Program

 

Through a competitive grant program, the Agricultural Water Use Efficiency & State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) jointly intend to demonstrate the potential multiple benefits of conveyance enhancements combined with on-farm agricultural water use efficiency improvements and greenhouse gas reductions.

The grant funding provided in this joint program is intended to address multiple goals including:

  1. water use efficiency, conservation and reduction,
  2. greenhouse gas emission reductions,
  3. groundwater protection, and
  4. sustainability of agricultural operations and food production.

It is also anticipated that there will be benefits to water and air quality, groundwater security, surface water conservation, and improved nutrient management and crop health through this program. Excellent proposals will demonstrate the specific regional needs and benefits of their proposals.

Deadline for submitting public comments is September 30, 2016.

Agricultural Water Use Efficiency & State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program – DWR/CDFA Joint RFP public-workshops
Agricultural Water Use Efficiency & State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program – DWR/CDFA Joint RFP Public Workshops

The program will be administered as a competitive grant program and will include a joint application process involving agricultural water suppliers and agricultural operators within the service area.

Projects that enhance and upgrade the supplier’s water conveyance, delivery and water measurement system to allow on-demand and flexible farm-gate deliveries, reduce spills and losses, increase the efficiency, and improve water management. A water supplier’s proposed project must generate State benefits to be eligible for grant funding.

Benefits to the State include:

  • water savings
  • increased in-stream flow or improved flow timing
  • improved water quality; increased energy conservation
  • reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • increased local water supply reliability.

The project must be located within California.
On-farm agricultural operations must achieve both GHG emission reductions and water savings to be eligible for funding. In addition, projects must: (i) use the associated improvements made to the surface water conveyance system proposed by the associated agricultural water supplier as part of the joint application, and (ii) eliminate on-farm groundwater pumping.

To be eligible for funding, projects are not required to be in an adopted Integrated Regional Water Management Plan or to comply with that program, but preference will be given for projects that are.

Save-our-waterThe following entities involved with water management are eligible to apply:  Public agencies, public utilities, federally recognized or state Indian tribes on California’s Tribal consultation list, nonprofit organizations, mutual water companies, and investor-owned utilities regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Applicants that are agricultural water suppliers and/or urban water suppliers should inquire for further information.

DWR has set aside $3 million from Proposition 1 to incentivize the water conveyance component of this joint agricultural water use efficiency and enhancement program. Proposition 1 requires that agricultural water suppliers provide a 50% cost share of total project costs.

CDFA has also set aside $3 million from the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) to incentivize the installation of irrigation systems that save water and reduce greenhouse gases on farms in the area that will directly benefit from the conveyance system incentivized by DWR. The maximum grant award per agricultural operation is $200,000 with a recommended, but not required, 50% match of the total project cost. CDFA reserves the right to offer an award different than the amount requested.

Separate contracts with each department will be necessary to receive both sets of funds. A joint proposal may include a request for up to $3 million for the water supplier’s conveyance upgrades (to be funded by DWR) and up to $3 million for enhancements of on-farm agricultural operations to be funded by CDFA (with a cap of $200,000 per operation). This would allow for 15 agricultural operations (at $200,000 each) to partner with the water supplier to submit the joint proposal at the maximum award amount of $6 million. More than 15 agricultural operations could be funded if amounts lower than the cap are requested in individual agricultural operator applications.


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USDA NRCS Works To Increase Diversity

NRCS Conducts Outreach for Diversity

 

By Emily McKay Johnson, Associate Editor

 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with local growers across America to conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources. Elisabeth “Elise” Miller, is an area engineer for the entire Southern California region. “I also serve my agency as the NRCS-California LGBT Special Emphasis Program Manager, a collateral duty that I perform on several levels to increase diversity,” said Miller.

 

“First, I work to educate employees within my agency, to make them better informed and more in tune to language,” Miller explained. “Then, I work to get a more diversified workforce within the USDA,” she added, to make the organization stronger and better.

 

Unlock the secrets in the soil diversity

“My efforts might include going to a university,” she elaborated, “trying to tie in with their resource center and encouraging more people who identify as LGBT to apply for federal jobs. Our colleges, the University of California (UC) and the California State (Cal State) University system, have a lot of really good, positive and powerful resource centers that I’m hoping will continue to help us with our outreach and pull more people in who want to work for us.”

 

“Certainly we do have human resources,” commented Miller. “And we do a lot of outreach. With California being so large and so diverse,” Miller said, “it is hard to reach out to everybody. We have to start with the big UC schools first. We also try to reach out to universities such as Fresno State, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo or Pomona or UC Davis, or Humboldt State. Those would be schools that certainly we want to outreach to and try to bring more of those graduating students in under our fold.”

 

“My agency is a very technical agency,” said Miller. “We work on conservation-type issues—resource issues that farmers, ranchers or private landowners might deal with—requiring an agronomist, biologist or soil scientist. I often go out with a multi-disciplinary team and meet with a farmer, rancher, or just a landowner.”

 

“Every farmer I meet has some kind of issue,” Miller commented, “whether it’s pest management, whether it’s dealing with manure management or an erosion issue that’s going on. If they have a hillside orchard, they have to deal with that.”

 

“And obviously they focus a lot on drought management and water conservation,” Miller explained, “A lot of these farmers of course are forced to use groundwater, which is depleting the groundwater sources and may be causing irreparable damage.

 

We work cooperatively to try to help them resolve their land issues. That’s what I like about my agency—that we’re invited there. We’re not there to push a regulation. We’re there to help them to better manage. They always maintain control of their decision making. We try to give them options available and we have cost share programs to assist them, if something is identified. We work towards developing conservation plans on the property.”

 

The agency is also responsible for the soil survey work. “We map the soils five feet deep,” said Miller, “to gather information, resource information, which has worked fantastically well for a farmer to know what kind of soil he’s dealing with. It may make a difference on how a farmer irrigates. It may be why he’s having a problem with a crop or many other areas that could be helpful to them.”

 

“We are in the community. We’re very much aware; we know who the farmers are, we know what the issues are and we work with farmers to try to address their land problems. We don’t just pop in and then pop out,” Miller said.


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRSC) works with local growers across America to conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources with voluntary programs and science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment. 

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Westlands Water District Corrects LA Times Errors with Full Page Ad

LA Times Wrongly  Attacks Westlands and Refuses OP ED Correction

The Los Angeles Times recently published an intensely critical article about Westlands Water District, which recited many of the false, misleading, or outdated claims made by some of our critics over the years. The Times’ editors refused to print an Op-Ed that the District offered in response. And so the District has taken out a full-page advertisement in the Times TODAY to provide readers with a better understanding of the issues facing Westlands and how we are addressing them. A copy of the advertisement is attached.

I wanted to let you know immediately about this action.

Tom Birmingham

General Manager of Westlands Water District

Westlands’ LA Times Ad

A Little Straight Talk About Agriculture,Saving Water and Drainage

Statement from Don Peracchi, President of Westlands Water District

Westlands
Source: Westlands Water District (wwd.ca.gov)

As the largest public irrigation district in the United States, Westlands Water District draws a lot of attention as well as the criticism that sometimes comes with its successes. This year, one of its most persistent critics, George Miller, is retiring after 40 years in Congress, and to mark the occasion, the Times’ recently unpacked a trunkload of his oft-repeated complaints and concerns about the District.

Some parts of this catalog identify serious issues that were long ago resolved. Others involve legitimate problems which we are still trying to address. And, like many things involving California water, a few are pure, political invention.

The article’s fundamental charge is that Westlands is simply “in the wrong place.” One might make the same complaint about dredging natural marshes in California’s Delta to grow crops in the middle of a saline estuary. Or attack the folly of installing vast farms on the desert lands of the Coachella and Imperial valleys. Or stranger still, decry building a great city on the arid plain where Los Angeles now stands. The point is, these endeavors and dozens more helped to create the prosperity of California by linking our communities together with a modern water system.

The reality is that Westlands is in the ideal place. Indeed, the Central Valley of California occupies the only Mediterranean climate in North America. Weather conditions, rich soils, and the arrival of water in the mid-1960s, have transformed the area into the most productive farming region in America. The communities that have grown there as a result, the thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend upon agricultural productivity, are not “in the wrong place.” They are at home.

The most persistent criticism of Westlands’ role in this transformation has to do with the influence of “corporate agriculture.” That may remain a concern for some parts of California, but not in Westlands or any of the other farming region served by the federal Central Valley Project. When Westlands was created in 1952, major industrial interests, including Standard Oil of California and Southern Pacific Railroad, did indeed own large tracts of land within its water service area.

But that ended in 1982 with the passage of Congressman Miller’s Reclamation Reform Act. That act redefined the qualifications for receiving water from a federal reclamation project; as a result, large corporate entities sold out, the large tracts were broken up, and today in Westlands there are nearly 2,250 landowners and the average farm size is 710 acres. “Corporate agriculture” has lost its meaning. Any corporate structure for today’s family farmers in Westlands is likely to have a mom as its vice president and her child as its treasurer.

Water use remains a constant concern for our farmers. That’s why farmers in Westlands have invested more than $1 billion in water saving techniques and technology. Indeed, even Westlands’ harshest critics have acknowledged that the men and women who today farm in Westlands are among the most efficient users of irrigation water in the world. Westlands is a leader in water conservation, and agricultural experts from all over the world come to the District to learn how its farmers are able to accomplish so much with the limited, and often uncertain, water supplies they have to work with.

Our interest in water use efficiency has become even more important in the 22 years since Congressman Miller’s Central Valley Project Improvement Act, and a host of new regulatory restrictions redirected more than a third of the water that cities and farms used to receive from the federal project, dedicating it instead to serve a wide range of new environmental purposes. Today, on an annual basis, the federal project manages more than 1.5 million acre-feet of water for fishery flow, waterfowl habitat, to protect listed species, and other environmental uses.

In hopes of restoring reliability to the water system as a whole, Westlands is working with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and other public water agencies throughout the state to support Governor Brown‘s Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

Drainage was a major issue on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley for decades before Westlands’ creation. That is why when Congress authorized the construction of the San Luis Unit of the Central Valley Project, it mandated that the Bureau of Reclamation provide Westlands with both a water supply and a drainage system. Initially federal officials planned to dispose of the drain water in the Delta. But Congress stopped that project when the drain being built by Reclamation reached Kesterson, and it was Washington as well that decided to designate this new terminus for agricultural waste as a wildlife refuge.

The resulting biological catastrophe should have been predictable. In the years since, the drainage system in Westlands has been plugged, and not a drop of drain water has left Westlands after 1986. Instead, Westlands has helped to fund the development of new methods for recycling drain water. And it has taken nearly 100,000 acres of the most vulnerable farmland out of production. Some of those lands are being converted to solar power development, with the support of numerous environmental organizations.

The drainage problem, however, persists. Federal courts, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, have repeatedly ordered that federal officials fulfill their obligation to provide drainage. But even though Westlands farmers pay every year for drainage service, the government has done nothing to resolve the problem in Westlands. And the government is facing a mandatory injunction, which it estimates will cost more than $2.7 billion to satisfy.

To avoid that cost, the government approached Westlands to assume the responsibility to manage drainage water within its boundaries. In addition, Westlands would compensate those landowners who have been damaged by the government’s failure to act. As part of a settlement, which is not yet final, Westlands would receive some financial consideration, albeit significantly less than the cost of performing the obligations that Westlands would assume. But there is nothing secret about either the negotiations or the proposed settlement. In fact, federal officials and Westlands have briefed interested Members of Congress and non-governmental organizations on the proposal. And there is no process that is more public than the process that federal officials and Westlands will have to pursue to obtain the congressional authorization needed to implement the proposed settlement.

We remain hopeful that these ideas can still form the basis for a long-term resolution of the drainage debate. This would put an end to more than fifty years of litigation, relieve the federal taxpayers of a substantial obligation, and enable us to move forward with an environmentally sustainable approach to the problem.

Whether that happy outcome would also put an end to the criticism of Westlands, however, is not for us to say.

Don Peracchi was born in Fresno, California to second generation Northern Italian immigrants. His family has lived and worked in Central California over 100 years. He has been farming since 1982 alongside his wife, two sons and daughter in Westlands. He has been involved in career-related board positions including banking, insurance, agriculture and water. He currently is the Board
President of Westlands Water District.

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Will Mandatory Water Conservation Regulation be Effective?

By Laurie Greene, Editor

As the agricultural sector does its part in coping with curtailed water allocations and conserving what remains, an emergency regulation to increase conservation practices for all Californians went into effect TODAY. The new mandatory water conservation regulation targets outdoor urban water use. In some areas of the state, 50 percent or more of daily water use is for lawns and outdoor landscaping. This regulation establishes the minimum level of activity that residents, businesses and water suppliers must meet as the drought deepens and will be in effect for 270 days unless extended or repealed.

The regulation, adopted by the State Water Board July 15, and approved by the Office of Administrative Law July 28, mandates minimum actions to conserve water supplies both for this year and into 2015. For more information please visit the Conservation Regulation Portal.

In “The Public Eye: Voluntary water conservation not effective, data show,” Matt Weiser and Phillip Reese confirm, “only mandatory conservation measures, backed by a threat of fines, seem to prompt consumers to save.”

They reported state water agencies used five percent less water (January-May 2014) under mandatory rules alone than the previous three-year average. Agencies under voluntary conservation measures increased water usage four percent over the same timeframe.

Most significantly, water agencies working under mandatory water conservation regulations used fourteen percent less water in May 2014; whereas, other agencies increased usage slightly. And, seventy-five percent of water districts north of the Grapevine reduced usage compared to previous years, while only thirty percent of those south showed reductions.

Now let’s put this into perspective, the authors say that, for instance, Santa Ana residents, each, consume 108 gallons of water daily versus Sacramento residents, who use 218 gallons each. Likewise, San Francisco residents increased their water consumption in May, but they use forty-nine gallons daily, and of course,they do not have substantial landscaping to nourish.

With this regulation, all Californians are expected to stop: washing down driveways and sidewalks; watering of outdoor landscapes that cause excess runoff; using a hose to wash a motor vehicle, unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle, and using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated. The regulation makes an exception for health and safety circumstances.

Larger water suppliers are required to activate their Water Shortage Contingency Plan to a level where outdoor irrigation restrictions are mandatory. In communities where no water shortage contingency plan exists, the regulation requires that water suppliers either limit outdoor irrigation to twice a week or implement other comparable conservation actions. Finally, large urban water suppliers must report water use on a monthly basis to track progress beginning Aug. 15.

Local agencies could ask courts to fine water users up to $500 a day for failure to implement the conservation requirements of the regulation, in addition to their existing authorities and processes.

In addition, Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste and has signed a bill that bars state homeowners associations and common interest developments, such as condominiums, from fining residents for drought-respectful brown lawns. As yet, all other homeowners are not protected.

Visit SaveOurH2O.org to find out how everyone can do their part; Drought.CA.Gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought, and Saveourh2o.org/report-water-waste to report state agency water waste.

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The State Water Board to Consider Proposed Emergency Water Conservation Regulations

On January 17 Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued a drought emergency proclamation following three dry or critically dry years in California. Extreme drought now covers nearly 80 percent of the state and these conditions will likely continue into the foreseeable future.

More than 400,000 acres of farmland are expected to be fallowed, thousands of people may be out of work, communities risk running out of drinking water and fish and wildlife species are in jeopardy. Many communities are down to 50 gallons a day or less per person for basic sanitation needs. With our inability to predict the effect of the next rainy season, water saved today can improve a region’s water security and add flexibility to systems that may need to withstand another year or more with precipitation below average.

In a survey conducted by the State Water Board in June, while many communities have significantly reduced their water demand over time, it is clear that more can  be done.

Conservation Actions Needed

Because of these dire conditions and the need to conserve more, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) is proposing that individuals and water agencies take necessary steps to conserve water supplies both for this year and into 2015, and is recommending that individuals and water agencies do even more voluntarily to manage our precious water resources.

Most Californians use more water outdoors than indoors. In some areas, 50 percent or more of our daily water use is for lawns and outdoor landscaping. Some urban communities have been investing in conservation, particularly indoors, for years, but reducing the amount of water used outdoors can make the biggest difference of all.

Temporary Water Restrictions

To promote water conservation statewide, the emergency regulations would prohibit each of the following, except in case of health or safety needs or to comply with a term or condition in a permit issued by a state or federal agency:

  • The direct application of water to any hard surface for washing
  • Watering of outdoor landscapes that cause runoff to adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots or structures
  • Using a hose to wash an automobile, unless the hose is fitted with a sit-off nozzle
  • Using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated

Action by Urban Water Suppliers Required

To reduce water demand, the regulations would require urban water suppliers to implement their Water Shortage Contingency Plans at a level that triggers mandatory restrictions on outdoor water use. Almost all urban water suppliers (those with more than 3,000 water connections) have these plans; about 40 of these larger agencies do not.

Water supplier serving fewer than 3,000 connections must also, within 30 days, require customers to limit outdoor irrigation to no more than two days per week or implement another mandatory conservation measure to achieve a comparable reduction in water consumption by the people it serves relative to the amount consumed in 2013.

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Metropolitan Water District Brings California to Life to Deliver Water-Saving Message in Response to Drought

California comes to life in a series of television advertisements by the Metropolitan Water District that began airing today on stations throughout the Southland promoting the need to protect the state and its future by saving water during the historic, ongoing drought.

Scheduled to run over the next 12 weeks, the 30-second television spots personifying California are the latest additions to Metropolitan’s multi-pronged public outreach and advertising campaign created in cooperation with the district’s 26 member public agencies.

The comprehensive campaign includes the 30-second television spots, 60-second radio advertisements and traffic report sponsorship, as well as online and mobile ads throughout the district’s six-county service area through Oct. 30.

“We’re building a broad outreach campaign that reinforces to Southern Californians just how serious the drought is,” said Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger.

“Southland consumers and businesses have certainly made significant improvements in using water more efficiently over the past 20 years, for which we thank them. This drought, however, compels all of us to take water conservation to the next level by incorporating permanent changes to ensure we use water—particularly outdoors, where up to 70 percent of water is used,” Kightlinger said.

Dubbed the “Don’t Waste Another Minute Wasting Water” campaign, the television ads will air on Los Angeles and San Diego area stations through Sept. 28. The spots join radio advertisements and traffic report sponsorships on English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Korean stations.

The two new television spots present California as a golden-colored, full-bodied mascot in the shape of the state. In one spot, she’s dismayed and discouraged as people waste water in and around their homes before easy and practical water-saving practices are embraced, showing love for California. The second ad features a man proclaiming all he’s prepared to do to save water and save his relationship with California.

“This campaign taps into people’s love for California and our lifestyle,” said Renee Fraser, chief executive officer of Fraser Communications, which created the campaign for Metropolitan.

“Knowing that people are already conserving, we found a way to move people into a higher level of conserving, like replacing a section of their lawn with California Friendly® plants,” Fraser added. “This campaign promotes the idea of being California Friendly as a way of life.”

The ad buy is part of $5.5 million authorized by Metropolitan’s Board of Directors in March for a regional communications, outreach and advertising campaign aimed at promoting greater water awareness and encouraging additional conservation.

Along with the television and radio spots, Metropolitan’s water-saving message will be the focus of specialized “Water Wise Wednesdays” segments offering conservation tips on television and radio stations as well as on-line advertising. The campaign also will feature focused billboard and movie theater advertising.

In addition, in a parallel education effort, Metropolitan will use the tagline “Water is Serious Business” to deliver more complex messages, using long-form formats to delve into related water reliability issues.

More information on water-saving tips and rebates for conservation devices is available at www.bewaterwise.com

Modesto Strives to Get Water Customers to Conserve

By Kevin Valine; The Modesto Bee

Modesto is asking everyone to conserve water as the state bakes under a third straight year of drought.

And in case folks have not gotten the message, the city is helping them. Since May, three city employees have been making sure the city’s roughly 77,000 water customers follow water restrictions, such as not watering lawns or washing cars from noon to 7 p.m.

The employees drive throughout the city, and surrounding communities served by Modesto, responding to complaints about water wasters, canvassing neighborhoods to check for compliance and investigating when they spot something suspicious, such as water from a broken sprinkler flooding a gutter.

The three issued 536 notices of violation June 1 to 24. The number of violations issued in May was not available.

City officials emphasized that the effort is not punitive, but focused on education and getting customers to comply. There is no fine for the first violation. A second violation can result in a $50 fine; a third violation is $200; a fourth violation is $250. City officials say they have not issued any fines, but may issue a $50 fine to an apartment complex.

“We want to make sure people adhere to the rules and hopefully reduce their water use,” Water Systems Manager Dave Savidge said.

On a recent weekday, Water Conservation Specialist Juan Tejeda checked in with a woman who had complained that her neighbors had partially flooded her backyard because they had left their sprinklers on overnight.

Karen Brown said this was not the first time her west Modesto neighbors had flooded her yard. She said she has tried to talk with them, but to no avail. Tejeda spoke with Brown and took pictures of the standing water in her backyard before knocking on the neighbors’ door. The woman who answered said it was a mistake and would not happen again.

Tejeda issued her a notice of violation and gave her information about Modesto’s water restrictions.

In some cases, Tejeda will turn off the water to the irrigation system of the home or business if he can’t make contact with the offender. He also will leave a notice for the home or business to call the city to resolve the violation and get the water restored.

His other stops that day included checking with the residents of two homes to see if they had corrected problems that had resulted in violating the city’s water restrictions. One problem was a broken sprinkler, and the other a sprinkler system set to water on the wrong day.

Tejeda said his job often involves letting homeowners, shopping centers and apartment complexes know their sprinkler systems have been set to water on the wrong day or are malfunctioning. “We know there are a lot of people in Modesto who care about conservation and we want to thank them for that,” he said.

Modesto is feeling the effects of the drought. It gets a significant amount of its water from the Modesto Irrigation District, with the rest coming from its roughly 100 wells. In early May, MID cut its annual water allocation to the city by 43 percent, which is the same reduction MID imposed on its other customers. MID gets its water from the Tuolumne River.

Modesto had been getting on average 30 million gallons of water per day from MID. It’s now getting on average 17 million gallons per day. Modesto used about 59 million gallons of water per day on average for 2013. Daily water use for the first six months of this year averaged 48 million gallons. But Modesto is heading into its peak season for water use.

Savidge said he believes the city can go until May, when MID sets its next annual water allocation, without imposing further water restrictions. But he expects the city to impose more restrictions if the drought continues into a fourth year.

The city has been under stage 1 water restrictions from its drought contingency plan since 2003. They call for reducing water use 10 percent to 20 percent and include such measures as limiting the days and times when residents can water their lawns. City officials have said water use has dropped 20 percent since 2003.

Savidge said the reduction has come about through conservation efforts; replacing older, leaking water mains with new ones; and getting more residential customers on water meters. He said about three-quarters of the city’s residential users are on meters and the city expects to be at 100 percent by 2022. Commercial water users are on meters.

The city’s stage 2 water restrictions call for reducing water use by as much as 15 percent more.

More about the stage 1 restrictions, water conservation tips, information about rebates for the purchase of high-efficiency toilets and clothes washers, and other resources is available at www.ci.modesto.ca.us/pwd/water/conservation. Customers can call (209) 342-2246 to report water restriction violations.

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Stockton Wins Appeal to Pump From Delta

Stockton can continue to pump water from the Delta this summer, ensuring that its new $220 million drinking-water plant – funded by ratepayers – will not stand idle.

The city was one of thousands of junior water-rights holders in the Central Valley ordered to stop taking water in recent weeks because of the drought.

That water was needed by those with older, more senior water rights, the State Water Resources Control Board said at the time.

The city appealed, arguing that its circumstances are different. Under a special section of state water law, Stockton is allowed to pump only as much water from the Delta as it releases back into the Delta at its wastewater treatment plant, a few miles downstream.

Ultimately, the state agreed, acknowledging in a letter that the city’s permit is “unique” and saying that the city can continue to take the water.

“It’s good news,” said Bob Granberg, assistant director of the city’s Municipal Utilities Department. “We’ll be able to back off groundwater pumping, and that will definitely help.”

The Delta water should help the city avoid any unusually aggressive water conservation requirements or rationing, he said.

The fact that Stockton will be drinking from the Delta this summer after all does not diminish the need to conserve. While the city has not taken any unusual steps to reduce water use, the rules that are in place every summer still apply.

Those rules include no outdoor irrigation from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., no washing cars unless hoses are equipped with nozzles, and no washing driveways and sidewalks except with pressure washers, among other requirements.

“We keep reminding people to conserve, and reminding them of the restrictions that are in place,” Granberg said.

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State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) Built on Collaborative Partnerships

CDFA continues to accept applications for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, or SWEEP. The deadline to apply is July 15, 2014.

The program is designed to provide financial assistance to agricultural operations for the implementation of water conservation measures that increase water efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately $10 million has been made available for SWEEP through emergency drought legislation (Senate Bill 103).

Although CDFA is leading this effort, the development, implementation and success of this program is dependent on collaborative efforts across state and federal agencies and with multiple partners.

CDFA is working closely with the State Water Board and Department of Water Resources on several aspects of the program, including program design and the collection of applications through the State Water Board’s electronic application program, the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST).

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) and the CDFA Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel have been valuable assets by providing guidance and feedback on many aspects of program design.

SWEEP requires a high level of technical expertise to review the applications. Irrigation experts from the Cal Poly Irrigation Training and Research Center, the Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State and the University of California’s Cooperative Extension are partnering with CDFA to provide application technical review and recommendations for funding.

Verifying that projects are implemented at the farm level is a critical part of SWEEP. CDFA is partnering with the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, which regularly works with farmers and has conservation practice experience on irrigation systems, to verify the projects. 

SWEEP was implemented under the 1995 Environmental Farming Act, which recognizes that many farmers engage in practices that contribute to the well-being of ecosystems, air quality and wildlife, and states that CDFA shall provide incentives for those practices.

 

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Farm Water Use Efficiency & Conservation Explained

Source: California Farm Water Coalition
Governor Brown has asked California’s citizens to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 20 percent but what are farmers doing to reduce water use? Many farmers will be fallowing, or not planting, their fields simply because there isn’t enough water to meet their needs.
Crops, such as broccoli, winter lettuce, cantaloupes and garlic will not be grown in the same quantities that we normally see in California. According to Bloomberg News prices for broccoli, lettuce and tomatoes are up by double digits, with tomatoes reaching their highest prices since 2011.

A recent survey of public water agencies that deliver farm water shows that most areas of the state are being affected by the drought. Deliveries of irrigation water are expected to be cut this year by 50 percent or more.

About 2 million acres in the San Joaquin Valley are expected to receive no water this year under existing contracts with the State Department of Water Resources or federal Bureau of Reclamation.

Water Conservation or Water Use Efficiency?

The terms water conservation and water use efficiency are often used interchangeably but to water users they’re different things. Water conservation is generally perceived as an activity that reduces the amount of water used to do something, such as wash a load of clothes or take a shower.

High efficiency washers and low-flow showerheads conserve water that can then be used by another user or at a later time. Water use efficiency is when a water user does things to achieve more using the same (or less) water. An example could be a farmer who upgrades his or her irrigation system so that water is more efficiently used by the crop, producing more saleable, higher quality crop on roughly the same amount of water.

The efficiency is what is gained in crop production.

California farmers depend on reliable water supplies to grow almost half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables and 100 percent of another 14 specialty crops, including almonds, kiwis and clover seeds.

Water Use Efficiency Investments

From 2003 through 2010 San Joaquin Valley farmers invested almost $2.2 billion installing upgraded irrigation systems (drip, micro sprinklers, high-efficiency pumps) on more than 1.8 million acres.

High-efficiency irrigation systems deliver water to the crop in precise amounts on a schedule that meets the plant’s growing cycle. Drip irrigation systems limit the amount of water that is consumed by weeds, reducing the need for herbicides or repeated trips with a tractor and cultivator over the field, which saves fuel and helps reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

For more information, please visit: http://new.farmwater.org/new/learn-more-about-farm-water-use-efficiency-conservation/

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