Mario Santoyo: Hold Environmental Water Use Accountable!

Mario Santoyo: Hold Environmental Water Use Accountable!

 

By Laurie Greene, California Ag Today Editor

 

California Ag Today met with Mario Santoyo, executive director for the California Latino Water Coalition at the recent Clovis drought forum organized by Assemblymember Jim Patterson to talk about how serious the current drought situation has become.

We are definitely in one of the worst drought situations that has happened in recent times. But the fact is, the 1977 drought was actually worse than where we are now. But this year, we’re at a zero water allocation and in ’77 we were at 25% for both the Eastside and Westside. So what’s the difference? Well, it boils down to the differences that are now dedicating a whole bunch of water to environment use, but the environment is not being held accountable for its usage,” Santoyo said.

“Cities and agriculture have had to be very accountable for their water usage and efficiency. It’s not the same for the environment, and so I’m hoping people will understand this discrepancy when we push to reallocate some of the water back to the cities and farms. We must hold environmental water use accountable!”

Santoyo noted the critical importance of building new water storage projects. “We have been working on this for a long time, and we just can’t afford to continue losing millions and millions of acre-feet of water to the ocean during times like this, when we could use that water. We need everyone to understand they have a role in communicating to the state government that we must advance our storage capacity.

Santoyo noted, “Farmworker communities are doing a lot worse because, again, zero allocation on both the Eastside and Westside quickly translates into fallowed land, which means there are fewer jobs available. So farmworkers now find themselves in an extremely difficult position in which they either stick around and hope for the best or they leave. But once they leave, they aren’t coming back,” he said.

And, that makes life tough for the farmworkers, but it also makes it tough for the farmers because they need water and labor. You can’t do without both, and the lack of one causes problems with the other; if you don’t have water, you lose the labor, and then what do you do? So, it’s unfortunate that some changes in the way we are using water today have changed the entire landscape of agriculture here in the Central Valley.”

In terms of what we can do, Santoyo urged Californians never to give up. “There’s no reason why we all cannot write letters to our representatives and to the governor! Wake him up! Tell him, ‘Hey by the way, you’re supposed to represent us and step to the plate. Have better control over State Water Resources Control Board because they are making tons of mistakes.’ Governor Brown must start making the right decisions for the people.”

WADE: LET THE WATER FLOW!

Let The Water Flow:

Mike Wade Urges Water Board To Let Reclamation Pay Back Borrowed Water

By Laurie Greene, California Ag Today Editor

Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, discussed with California Ag Today, his article for the Coalition’s Blog, entitled, “State Water Resources Control Board Could Cost California’s Agricultural Economy $4.5 Billion.”

“A number of San Joaquin Valley farmers have been working the last couple of years to set aside emergency water supplies through conservation and water purchases on the open market,” began Wade. “That water is set aside in the San Luis Reservoir and currently being borrowed, if you will, by the Bureau of Reclamation to help meet their obligations and ultimately the temperature management plan for winter run Chinook salmon.”

Wade said the Bureau’s water obligations also include provisions for summer agriculture south of the Delta, as well as refuge management for numerous listed terrestrial species like the Giant Garter Snake.

Wade estimates the loaned water is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Lending farmers include those who own land on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento Valley rice farmers who fallowed land this year to make supplies available for transfers and Friant-area farmers seeking to augment a zero water allocation for the second year in a row.

“We believe the Bureau has an obligation to pay that water back this fall, and we’re urging the State Water Resources Control Board to let that payback happen.” In his article, Wade reported that Reclamation would pay back the water from supplies stored in Lake Shasta as soon as temperature goals for winter run Chinook salmon were met.

Regarding accountability, Wade said, “I believe the Bureau intends to pay it back, but we want the public to understand what’s happening. We want transparency so we can follow this obligation and make sure this fall, when water becomes available, the Bureau follows through to pay it back. People don’t forget.”

Built and operated jointly by the Bureau of Reclamation and the State of California, the San Luis Reservoir is at 44% capacity today, according to the California Department of Water Resources’ California Data Exchange Center, but the supply is already divided and allocated. Wade explained, “The water that is currently in San Luis Reservoir under the Bureau of Reclamation’s control is almost exclusively owned by growers who have conserved it or purchased it on the open market. The remainder belongs to the State Water Project and its users. So, there is little or no federally-owned water in San Luis at this time.”

Wade said, “There are a number of factors that contribute to the 4.5 – 4.9 billion dollar projected cost for San Joaquin Valley farmers. First is the actual value of the water that farmers have already set aside. Second is the monetary obligations farmers have contracted to pay Sacramento Valley rice growers for transferred water. The third component is the actual value of potential crop and orchard losses if that water isn’t paid back and farmers lose out on their ability to keep their farms going.”

Wade urged the State Water Resources Control Board, “to facilitate this complex and unprecedented collaboration” and allow Reclamation to release compensatory water as soon as possible.

Let the water flow!

 

Sources: Interview with Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition; “State Water Resources Control Board Could Cost California’s Agricultural Economy $4.5 Billion,” by Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition; Bureau of Reclamation; California Department of Water Resources

Featured Image: San Luis Reservoir-Empty, California Farm Water Coalition

Mario Santoyo On Allocating Enviromental Water to Cities and Farms

All Sectors Of California Have Had to Reduce Water Usage, Except the Environment

By Kyle Buchoff, Correspondent

Mario Santoyo is the Assistant General Manager of the Friant Water Authority as well the Executive Director of the Latino Water Coalition. He suggests the environment give up some of its water, like the other sectors in California, to free up supply for cities and farms that are suffering this year.

He told California Ag Today, “This is the fourth year of a serious drought and the second year of what I call ‘double zeros,’ meaning zero water allocation on the West Side and zero allocation on the East Side of the Central San Joaquin Valley. Historically, a year of double zeros has never happened, much less a second year of it. This translates to the worst possible condtion for agriculture in the Central Valley—ever,” Santoyo said.

“At this point there is clearly nothing we can do relating to Mother Nature; she’s going to do what she’s going to do. But the fact is, it is not just Mother Nature causing this drought; human involvement in the operations and management of water has resulted in this level of crisis,” he said.

Santoyo emphasized that the environment must be considered in any  water usage allotment, but “to the degree that there are no requirements to justify the level of the water that it needs, unlike municipal and agricultural allocations, that is not reasonable,” Santoyo noted.

“So as we move further down the drought road in terms of farmer hardship, we’ve tried to appeal to policymakers to rethink how environmental water is being used. We’ve talked to legislators in Washington D.C. and we are talking with the Governor Brown.”

“The governor has implemented a 25 percent water reduction for municipalities, and of course you cannot receive less than a zero water  allocation for agriculture, so a similar cutback to environmental water use is warranted,” Santoyo said. “It is very reasonable, given the dire circumstances we all face, that everyone share in the pain. Reductions in  environmental water could be reallocated to the communities and farms to ease at least some of the pain.”

Santoyo hopes that state and federal legislators will help to reallocate some of the water supply this summer.

Harlan Ranch Pushes Citrus Trees Due to No Water

 

Califonia Citrus Mutual Holds Press Conference at Harlan Ranch to Show Catastrophe

Kevin Severns, a citrus grower and manager of Orange Cove – Sanger Citrus Association and chairman of California Citrus Mutual, spoke to the crowd gathered at third-generation, family-owned Harlan Ranch, Clovis, CA, TODAY, “This is what a zero allocation looks like, folks, this is what zero allocation looks like.”

“Harlan Ranch and Orange Cove-Sanger Citrus have a long history together. Next year we will receive our lowest-ever deliveries from Harlan Ranch simply because of the number of trees are being pushed. Why are they being pushed? No water.

“This is an inexcusable situation and something we are desperate to do something about. Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be the end of the story. We can do something about this, and that’s what this is all about–to bring attention to both the plight and what can be done about it,” said Severns.

“The packing house that I manage is about 25 miles, as the crow flies, from where I’m standing, and the fruit from this ranch is delivered there along with fruit from the other growers who also own the packing house. It’s a cooperative of family farmers. We employ about 100 people directly in our packing house, and another 200 to 250 in the crews that pick, harvest and prune,” Severns said.

CA Drought Devastates State’s Citrus Industry – June 6 in Bakersfield Orchard

California Citrus Mutual and Senators Fuller and Vidak to hold Press Conference June 6, 11:00 a.m. 

Please join California Citrus Mutual, Senator Andy Vidak and Senator Jean Fuller for a press conference on the current water crisis and its devastating impact to the Central Valley’s $1.5 billion citrus industry and local communities.

Senator Jean Fuller
Senator Jean Fuller
Senator Andy Vidak
Senator Andy Vidak

The event is on Friday, June 6 at 11:00 a.m.in a Bakersfield citrus grove that is being pulled out of production due to zero surface water allocation [21662 Bena Rd., Bakersfield, CA]. The scene of removed groves is, unfortunately, becoming a familiar one throughout the Valley as citrus growers are faced with zero water allocation for the first time in the Central Valley Water Project’s history.

“The situation our industry is now faced with is not the result of a drought,” says CCM President Joel Nelsen. “It is the result of inaction and indifference by state and federal regulators who have time and again demonstrated that the production of food and fiber is not a priority.”

California Citrus Mutual estimates that nearly 50,000 acres of citrus will receive zero water allocation this year. “The loss of citrus production in the Central Valley will undoubtedly have a ripple effect that will be felt in many local communities,” continues Nelsen.

“Due to the zero water allocation, thousands of acres of citrus trees have already been destroyed resulting in higher food prices and lost jobs,” says Senator Fuller. “Now is the time for regulators to act on behalf of the farmers and residents of the Valley, get the water moving to where it is needed most, and stop the planned removal of thousands of more acres of citrus.”

California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen
California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen

“The citrus industry is an economic driver in the Central Valley,” says Senator Vidak. “The loss of prime citrus production as a result of zero water allocation will have a lasting and devastating impact on jobs and our communities. This is not simply an agricultural problem; the impact will be felt by each and every one of us if water is not made available to our Valley.”

Speaking at the press conference will be CCM President Joel Nelsen, Senator Andy Vidak, and Senator Jean Fuller along with Valley citrus growers who have been directly impacted by this water crisis.

 

(Photo credit: California Citrus Mutual)

UC Davis Report Shows Startling, Accurate Water Crisis Snapshot

The report issued today by the California Department of Food & Agriculture and the University of California, Davis presents an accurate water crisis picture of the reality resulting from federal decisions that will reduce the production of food and fiber, according to California Citrus Mutual.

Unfortunately, this picture is not complete. The report indicates the losses which have been incurred to-date, but does not and cannot begin to predict future impacts as permanent crops continue to be ripped out of production as we enter into the hottest months with zero access to surface water,” says CCM President Joel Nelsen.

“The report is a compilation of what the authors know is happening as a result of April calculations. Since then, the Bureau of Reclamation has challenged the Administration’s focus on obesity prevention, school lunch programs, and other campaigns focused on healthy eating by holding water that could otherwise be used for the production of food and fiber.

As such, growers are being forced to make difficult farming decisions that have and will continue to result in reduced plantings of annual crops and the removal of permanent crops.

“If there is a flaw in the report, it is the assumption that ground water supplies are available to offset surface water loss, which may be true in some production areas but certainly not all.

The authors do fairly acknowledge that the impacts to the Friant service area in particular are not yet calculated into this water crisis report.

“The report demonstrates the costs associated with the inability of the Central Valley to produce a viable crop due to zero or minimal water allocation.

As the actions of the shortsighted agencies manifest themselves into reality, the cost will be borne for years to come until permanent crop plantings are replaced and production is regained. Production, revenue, and jobs are in abeyance for several years to come.”

Image courtesy of TeddyBear[Picnic]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net