Wednesday, July 10, 2013

News articles and links from July 10, 2013

State Water Project

From: Joseph P. Byrne, BB&K

Water in California sparks news headlines on nearly a daily basis. Much of the attention is focused on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a sprawling river delta and estuary wedged between Sacramento and Stockton that acts as a funnel for water traveling from water-rich Northern California to heavily populated but water-poor Southern California. The news articles tend to focus on the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan's proposal to build conveyance tunnels to protect endangered species living in the Delta, or the lack of snowmelt that has made 2013 one of the driest year on record in California, leaving the State Water Project to deliver only an estimated 35 percent of requested water to millions of Californians. And then there are the articles about the increased anxiety over climate change and its effects on the reliability of long-term supplies.

While all of these are very important concerns, there is a critical piece to California's water supply that is lurking in the background without the needed attention. The State Water Project is arguably the most critical infrastructure system to the California economy and the quality of life of many of its residents, but it is getting old and is not being operated as efficiently as it has been and needs to be.

Water Supply

From: Mark Grossi, Fresno Bee

But, here's the kicker for the Valley. Take a look at two key reservoirs where farmers get a lot of water: Pine Flat and San Luis.

Pine Flat Reservoir in Fresno County is down to 30% of capacity. San Luis Reservoir in western Merced County is at 20%. With most of July and all of August still ahead, farmers and small towns may get the worst of this summer.


From: Heather Hacking, Chico Enterprise-Record

Is Northern California going dry? Not yet, and probably not. But the topsy-turvy cycles of Mother Nature are a good reason to keep up on well maintenance if that's where you get your water.

December started off looking like a wet winter, with nearly 6 inches of rain recorded at the National Weather Service gauge at Chico State University Farm. Weather watchers were even worried, briefly, about flooding.

But then the graph drops precipitously.

From: David Sneed, SLO Tribune

San Luis Obispo County supervisors Tuesday directed staff to develop a series of emergency land-use restrictions that could halt precipitous declines in the Paso Robles groundwater basin.

No later than late July or early August, county administrators and public works staff will come up with a series of options for limiting groundwater pumping for supervisors to consider.


From: Garth Stapley, Modesto Bee

The Turlock Irrigation District has called off a deal to buy extra water this year from the Modesto Irrigation District, saying mountain snowmelt is a little more plentiful than feared earlier.

Also, TID farmers can pay a premium for water beyond this year's restricted allotment of 34 vertical inches per acre, board members decided on a 4-0 vote with board chairman Michael Frantz absent.


From: D.L. Taylor, Salinas Californian

A tentative agreement hammered out between attorneys for the Monterey County Water Resources Agency and State Water Board water rights prosecutors could result in the cancellation of a planned revocation of a key water right to the Salinas River.


From: Julie R. Johnson, Colusa Sun-Herald

Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority has lost a critical court case heard by the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concerning the area of origin water rights.

The TC authority was fighting for priority of water allocations in dry years over exports to Central Valley Project contractors located south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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