Tuesday, June 11, 2013

News articles and links for June 11, 2013

Water Supply 
From: Sarah Null and Joshua Viers, California WaterBlog
For at least 20 years now, water scientists have impressed upon us the unavoidable effects of climate change already underway in California. The forecasts repeatedly call for reduced Sierra snowpack, earlier spring snowmelt, prolonged hot spells and droughts, warmer rivers stressing cold-water fish, wilder storms and sea level rise that threatens Delta water supplies for thousands of farms and millions of Californians.
Coalition response...The authors compare water use between wet and dry years according to percentages. If one looks at the actual volume used then it becomes clearer that some uses of water remain close to the same volume regardless of year type and percentage. Unlike water users south of the Delta, including thousands of farmers, the volume drops in dry and critically dry years. History reveals that in 1990 farmers received zero percent of their supply from the State Water Project. In 2009 farmers received 10 percent of the promised supply from the Central Valley Project; that number is at 20 percent this year.

Redefining water year definitions as suggested by the authors may be helpful for some but more importantly to California farmers is knowing how much water they can expect to receive while planning and preparing the soil for planting. As annual precipitation shifts seasonally and the extremes are more prevalent, it becomes even more important to balance our water supply needs with new storage. Bountiful supplies in wet years should be saved for use during dry years. And that can help meet the environmental needs that the authors say actually increase during dry years. Sites, Temperance Flat and Shasta all have potential to even out the uncertainty water users could see in the future.
Bay Delta Conservation Plan 

It's still Chinatown, and like Jake, we can't forget it. On Tuesday (June 11), the powerful Metropolitan Water District (known as Met) will vote to take the first step towards raising property taxes to help pay for Governor Brown's coveted twin-tunnel project 350 miles north of Los Angeles at an estimated price tag of $50 billion. The tunnels would deliver more water to California's biggest corporate agribusinesses and oil companies in the Central Valley while southern California taxpayers and ratepayers would get most of the bill and no new water.

Coalition response...The author falsely describes San Joaquin family farmers as "California's biggest corporate agribusinesses..." Nearly 4,000 farmers currently receive water from the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project, the two largest supply systems in California, and most of them are family controlled.  The percentage of California farms controlled by families, partnerships or individuals is 96 percent.

San Joaquin Valley farmers who receive a portion of their water from the supply that flows through the Delta have provided consumers with healthy and affordable food found in grocery stores. That supply of water has been interrupted in recent years by environmental regulations written to protect fish species in the Delta. Sadly, regulatory restrictions have failed to help fish by cutting off water from one of the most productive food growing regions in the state. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan creates a reliable supply of water for farmers, families and businesses while also restoring the Delta ecosystem, including enhanced protections for fish that science tells us will do a better job than simply pouring more water on the problem.


Water Supply
Klamath Tribes and feds exercise water rights From: Jeff Barnard-AP, ABC News
Tens of thousands of acres in Oregon's drought-stricken Klamath Basin will have to go without irrigation water this summer after the Klamath Tribes and the federal government exercised newly confirmed powers that put the tribes in the driver's seat over water use - a move ranchers fear will be economically disastrous.
Our View: One-time water sale from to Turlock a good idea From: Modesto Bee
At its meeting this morning, the Modesto Irrigation District board will consider selling some of its water. A year ago, that would have set off a firestorm.

But this proposed sale is one-time, rather small and amounts to helping out a partner agency, the Turlock Irrigation District. We see no good reason for MID directors to turn down the TID's request to buy up to 7,000 acre-feet of water later this summer to assist local farmers who are getting less than their normal allotment.
Modesto Irrigation District considers water sale to Turlock From: John Holland, Modesto Bee
The Modesto Irrigation District board on Tuesday will consider selling water to the neighboring Turlock Irrigation District to help it through this year's dry conditions.

The TID would get up to 7,000 acre-feet of Tuolumne River water from Don Pedro Reservoir, which the districts share.
Alfalfa field day looks at SDI irrigation From: Spencer Halsey, Western Farm Press
This year's UC Davis Alfalfa Field Day was held on May 15 and was designed to educate attendees on a variety of topics.  One of the most exciting topics of discussion was the use of subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) in alfalfa. Dan Putnam presented an even-handed summary of the potential advantages and disadvantages of SDI in alfalfa.

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