Friday, August 30, 2013

News, Articles and Links from August 30, 2013

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Delta water conservation plan has local officials skeptical
From: David Benda, Record Searchlight
(Subscription Required)

A state water official says a controversial plan to manage the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta will not divert more water from Lake Shasta.

Paul Helliker of the Department of Water Resources told the Shasta County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that one component of the plan, the twin tunnel project, will improve the way water flows through and is managed in the delta.


Ordinance is a needed timeout for groundwater basin, stakeholders agree
From: David Sneed, San Luis Obispo 

Now the real work begins.

Tuesday's landmark decision by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors to impose emergency land-use restrictions to protect the Paso Robles groundwater basin begins the lengthy and complicated process of finding a permanent solution to the North County's dwindling aquifers.

Failed desal project: Court rules appeal moot
From: Jim Johnson, The Herald

Attorneys for both sides are claiming victory after an appeals court ruled that a successful challenge to the failed regional desalination project's environmental review was no longer relevant.

In a ruling issued Monday, the Sixth District Court of Appeal found the Marina Coast Water District's appeal of a decision by a Monterey County judge that the project's EIR was inadequate is "moot," or irrelevant, because both sides agree the project is essentially dead.


IID sets public workshop to discuss 2013-2014 water conservation measures
From: Imperial Valley Press Staff, Imperial Valley Press

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors has scheduled a public workshop for Wednesday in the Condit Auditorium, El Centro, to recap the district's water conservation activities to date in 2013 and actions considered for implementation in the year ahead. The workshop will begin at 4 p.m.

Estuary Restoration

Massive new wetlands restoration reshapes San Francisco Bay
From: Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News
From: Paul Rogers, Santa Cruz Sentinel

The Carneros region in southern Napa and Sonoma counties has been known for years for chardonnays, pinot noirs and merlots.

But as the grapes hang plump on the vines awaiting the autumn harvest, this area along the northern shores of San Francisco Bay is growing a new bounty: huge numbers of egrets, herons, ducks, salmon, Dungeness crabs and other wildlife, all returning to a vast network of newly created  marshes and wetlands.


Viewpoints: Tractors changed farms, and America's way of life
From: David Mas Masumoto,

In our old wooden red barn, a set of "trees" hang on the wall. They're wooden bars with metal rings and fasteners at the ends. Farmers once used these when hooking up a team of horses to pull a farm implement or wagon or trailer. And I have no clue how to use these, I have never farmed using a horse or mule.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

News articles and links from August 29, 2013

August 29, 2013

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Changes to Delta Plan
From: Patterson Irrigator Staff, Patterson Irrigator

The State Office of Administrative Law (OAL) has approved 14 regulations to help implement the Delta Plan on Sept. 1 this year, according to a news release from the Delta Stewardship Council. The Council adopted the Delta Plan on May 16, and submitted the rules for review shortly after for public consideration.

Coalition response...

Supervisor Jim DeMartini needs to look a little closer at the benefits of the planned tunnels associated with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. His own supervisorial district is one of the hardest hit areas suffering from an 80 percent water supply cut this year and possibly a zero percent allocation next year. Farmers can’t grow crops without a reliable supply of water and they can’t hire employees or buy goods and services they use in their farming operations.

The tunnels would improve water supply reliability to almost 4,000 farms from Patterson to Bakersfield as well as two-thirds of California’s residents. It is a comprehensive plan that will create 110,000 new jobs, protect over a million jobs during the 50-year life of the permit and generate $84 billion in statewide economic activity. The project provides significant economic benefits to farms and businesses in the Patterson area and throughout California and deserves fair consideration from our elected leaders.  

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Water, the Delta and prosperity
From: Jerry Meral, Manteca Bulletin 

The latest comprehensive economic analysis of the governor's plan for fixing the state's aging water system and restoring the environmental health of the Delta estimates that the project will yield roughly $5 billion in net benefits for California residents and preserve more than a million additional jobs over the next 50 years.

Many of those jobs will be in San Joaquin County and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.


Growers aim to protect groundwater
From: D.L. Taylor, The Californian 

A Tuesday night presentation on one of the three key desalination projects moving forward on the Monterey Peninsula highlights what all the proposals' proponents understand: They must pass muster with agriculture concerns in the Salinas Valley.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

News articles and links from August 28, 2013


From: Erin Brodwin, Scientific American

Midwestern Farmers have relied on the High Plains Aquifer System since they first discovered the solution to their drought woes nearly six decades ago. The massive underground water source has turned a vast dry swath of the Great Plains from North Dakota to Texas into arable farmland.

Coalition response... It is important to note that San Joaquin Valley farmers, contrary to statements made in this article, do not use water from the Colorado River basin to irrigate their crops. The article is correct, however, in describing the enormous increase in water use efficiency achieved by San Joaquin Valley farmers. Since 2003 more than $2.1 billion has been invested in upgrading irrigation systems on more than 1.8 million acres. One of the results of that kind of investment is that crop production has increased more than 89 percent on about the same amount of applied water per acre in years past.

Water Supply

From: Kate Campbell, Ag Alert

Farmers say this year's agricultural water supply has been squeezed dry-wells are going empty, major reservoirs are at a fraction of historic storage levels for this time of year and the U.S. Drought Monitor shows California is in a severe to extreme drought.

No California growing region has been spared the drought's effects.

From: Garth Stapley,

Even valley water leaders are talking about the Rim fire.

The fire itself doesn't threaten mountain water going to thousands of farmers and hundreds of thousands of Modesto water customers, all of whom rely on Tuolumne River flows.

From: John Franco, Merced Sun-Star  

I attended the film screening of "The Fight for Water: A Farmworker Struggle" at UC Merced on Aug. 21 and believe the panel discussion should have included a wider range of perspectives, and any discussion of our water future should always start with the natural watershed geography.

From: Steve Frisch,

As the record-breaking Rim Fire continues to consume power lines and structures in its path, the bigger story is its effect on water and power for San Francisco, the East Bay and hundreds of square miles of California farmland. The largest fire in Sierra Nevada history is a sobering reminder that our water resources are at risk, not only from wildfires but also from climate change and a legacy of poorly planned land management.

Salton Sea

From: Victoria Pelham, The Desert Sun  

A $5 billion water bond introduced by state lawmakers earlier this month will include funds for the Salton Sea, according to Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez's office.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Alex Breitler,

Dueling eocnomists[sic]: The State Water Contractors published a fact sheet comparing recent twin tunnels analyses by David Sunding, a consultant for the state, and Jeff Michael, the skeptic often quoted by Stockton-based tunnels foe Restore the Delta.

From: John F. Shirey, Sacramento Bee 

Re "Capital steps up Delta battle" (The Public Eye, Aug. 25): In the article, the city of Sacramento is characterized as opposed to the governor's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). To be clear, Sacramento has not taken a formal position on BDCP.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Interview with Liz Hudson of Hudson Family Farms

As August comes to an end so does Peach Month. This doesn’t mean the end of peaches though! Peach lovers should be able to find this delicious fruit for at least another month. 

We thought we would interview one of our favorite California peach farmers, Liz Hudson from Hudson Family Farms, to get some insight into what peach farming is all about. Liz runs a fruit stand along the Fresno County Fruit Trail so if you are in the area be sure to stop by and pick up some fresh peaches!

Liz Hudson talking to a group of visitors at her fruit stand
1. How did you get into peach farming?

Married into it! I grew up farming, but my family farmed grapes. My husband is the peach farmer. I just do the bookwork part of it!

2. What is the most challenging part of your job?

Hudson Family Farms also grows delicious nectarines!
With any labor-intensive crop, like peaches, having an adequate reliable supply of employees to help harvest the fruit is always a challenge in California. Likewise, water availability is always an issue. Although we usually have an adequate surface water supply, this year is an exception. The low snow pack in the Sierras resulted in no surface water for us this summer. We are pumping from the groundwater aquifer, which we will hope to replace with a strong snow pack this winter, God willing!

3. What is one of your favorite aspects of peach farming?

Seeing our fruit stand customers enjoying the peaches. I must say the spring bloom is a beautiful time of the year in the orchard, too!

Spring bloom on peach trees
4. Can you explain what a day in the life of a peach farmer looks like?

There is no typical day in the life of any farmer! You never know what to expect!

5. What is your favorite type of peach?

Fairtime, which comes off in late-Aug-early Sept. It is an amazing freestone peach that has an old-fashioned taste and is great for eating, jamming, freezing, etc.

Some of Liz's beautiful peaches
A special thanks to Liz for taking the time to do this interview- we really appreciate it!

News articles and links from August 27, 2013

Bay Delta Conservation Plan 

From: Efrain Rojas, Merced Sun-Star 

The San Luis Reservoir is drying up. Assuming the worst about global warming, we should prepare for greater shortcomings by encouraging desalination for coast communities. Desalination is a solution to our water needs and global warming.

Coalition response...San Luis Reservoir lost the potential of storing 800,000 acre-feet of water earlier this year because of federal regulations. These regulations kept the water in the Delta for fish species instead of allowing it to be rightfully diverted to nearly 4,000 farms and 25 million Californians. Instead, this water flowed to the ocean with no demonstrable benefit for the fish.

Looking for new water supplies is always a good idea. Studies are underway on several projects---Upper Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin River, Sites Reservoir in western Colusa County and raising Shasta Dam---that would increase the water supply for California. It is estimated that 120 desalination plants the size of the recently approved Poseidon facility in San Diego would be required to meet the 6 MAF requirements of the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. With 840 miles of California coastline, a desal plant would have to be placed every seven miles and would still not connect to our current water distribution system. Plans already underway, such as the above and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, would be much cheaper and more environmentally-friendly than lining our coastline with desal plants.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Press Release, State Water Contractors

The State Water Contractors released a fact sheet today comparing two of the studies being referenced to assess the costs and benefits of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). UC Berkeley's David Sunding and University of the Pacific's Jeffrey Michael, have both testified before the legislature and are regularly utilized as sources on this issue, but their findings are drastically different.

From: Ryan Lillis, Sacramento Bee

Sacramento city officials are paying a high-powered political affairs firm $10,000 a month to communicate the city's opposition to a plan to build two massive water diversion tunnels in the Delta.

From: Zane Vorhes, Sacramento Bee  

Re "Capital steps up Delta battle" (The Public Eye, Aug. 25): Thank god I live in the county. A city that can't afford swimming pools, police officers and firefighters is spending money on public relations, under no-bid contracts to oppose the Delta pipeline project, although it does not affect its interests.

From: C.J. Jawahar, Sacramento Bee

Re "Capital steps up Delta battle" (The Public Eye, Aug. 25): I applaud Sacramento city officials for spending $10,000 per month to communicate their opposition to the Delta tunnel water sale plan

Water Bond

From: Seth Nidever, Hanford Sentinel  

As the state Legislature debates spending billions on a water infrastructure bond, Kings County supervisors are expected to weigh in Tuesday with demands that it include new dams.

Kings County's ag-based economy is near crisis mode after two consecutive dry Sierra snowpacks. Calls for more water storage have been amplified by environmental restrictions that prevent more Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta water from being pumped south.

Supervisors will consider passing a resolution outlining the need for additional storage and calling for action.


From: David Sneed, SLO Tribune  

The State Water Resources Control Board has sent a letter to San Luis Obispo County supervisors urging them to adopt an emergency ordinance to protect the Paso Robles groundwater basin.

From: David Sneed, SLO Tribune

An estimated 375 wells have been drilled in the North County during the past five years - with the deepest of them in a swath east of Paso Robles where the aquifer levels have dropped the most since 1997, according to a Tribune review of county well permit data.


From: Alex Breitler, Hispanic Business

(This article was previously printed in the Stockton Record.)
In the age of Google Earth and GPS, century-old hand-drawn maps of the Delta would seem irrelevant.

Not so.


From: Press Release, USBR

The Bureau of Reclamation in partnership with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, California Department of Water Resources, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Water Board, and the University of California, will be hosting a landowner and stakeholder workshop focused on initial planning tasks to evaluate the feasibility of reintroducing Chinook salmon into tributaries above Shasta Lake.

Monday, August 26, 2013

News articles and links from August 26, 2013

Trinity River 

From: Editorial Staff, SF Chronicle  

Until this week, a record salmon run swimming up the Klamath River faced soupy-warm water, high bacteria levels and low flows that add up to deadly conditions. But a federal court bowed to scientific testimony and bitter history in choosing fish over farms and released extra water to smooth the spawning migration.

From: Editorial Staff, Santa Rosa Press Democrat

A federal agency, under pressure to supply water to irrigators, diverts a North Coast river, creating a killing field for tens of thousands of chinook salmon and other fish.

Sound familiar?

It's the Cliff's Notes version of events 11 years ago on the Klamath River - an unnatural disaster with disastrous consequences for coastal communities and Indian tribes that rely on salmon fisheries for their livelihoods.

(The following comment is submitted in response to the above editorials.)
Coalition response...This editorial does not include the complete information surrounding the court ruling that allows supplemental water to be sent down the Trinity River from Trinity Reservoir.  During the court proceedings, the U.S. Department of Interior reduced the amount of water they wanted from up to 109,000 acre-feet to just 20,000 acre-feet. It was evident that the scientific arguments they had put forth for the higher amount were not justified.

In his ruling, Judge O'Neill wrote that "all parties have prevailed in a significant, responsible way."

All parties must now work together in reaching a long-term approach to managing requests for supplemental water that is balanced and scientifically supportable.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan 

From: Editorial Staff, Redding Record Searchlight

The question of the day was simple enough: When it comes to the state's multibillion-dollar proposal to build tunnels diverting Sacramento River water around the Delta to points south, "How will Sacramento Valley interests be addressed?"

Coalition response...Those who claim that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan will simply "preserve the status quo" refuse to acknowledge the benefits contained in the Plan. BDCP is an effort to obtain a 50-year endangered species permit that will improve the Delta through habitat restoration and protection of species. In doing so it is expected that water supply reliability will improve for users who have a legal right to use existing water supplies.

The BDCP does not increase the average amount of water that has been delivered through the Delta over the past 20 years. This permit should improve water supply reliability for almost 4,000 farms and 25 million Californians. The importance of a dependable supply of water to farmers means California consumers can depend on a variety of safe, healthy and affordable food products from local sources.

Restoring thousands of acres of habitat for fish and providing a reliable supply of water so farmers can grow crops are benefits that do not exist today.

Water Supply

From: Valerie Gibbons, Visalia Times-Delta

The ditches of the Tulare Irrigation District haven't been dry at this time of year since 1990 - and district managers don't think water will flow any time soon.

The water that usually flows out to growers as far west as Corcoran and as far south as Delano was sold in January to go to other irrigation districts throughout the Valley.

From: Eric Vodden, Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Curt Aikens: The National Marine Fisheries Service has been focused on fish passage and has included the idea of removing or modifying Englebright Dam. That could have a substantial, socio-economic, environmental impact in our area. How can you help us work

with the fisheries service to do a science-based collaborative process to improve fishery habitat in the Yuba River?

Garamendi: National Marine Fisheries was pushed by a court order to issue a biological opinion "far faster than was appropriate.

"The result was a bad opinion."


From: Todd Fitchette, Western Farm Press

For the Maddox family, early innovation has been something of a trademark for their farming operation. Whether it has been the innovations in the dairy breeding program for Holstein cows to those which support the dairy, new programs and efficiencies remain a vital part of the business.

Last October Maddox began the move away from the typical and into a practice of utilizing subsurface drip irrigation (SSDI) in the alfalfa and Maddox is happy. The yields speak for themself.

From: Antoine Abou-Diwan, Imperial Valley Press  

There is no shortage of Imperial Valley farmers who oppose the Quantification Settlement Agreement, the nation's largest agriculture to urban-area water transfer.

Many have challenged its validity in court over the last 10 years. Brawley farmer Mark Osterkamp is one.

And while the court recently upheld the validity of the agreement after 10 years of lawsuits, accusations and bitter rhetoric, Osterkamp came to realize some time before that the water conservation measures at the heart of the transfer are an opportunity for farmers like him.

Water Bond 

From: Ellen Hanak, Sacramento Bee

In recent weeks, work has begun in earnest in the Capitol to revamp the water bond that will go before California voters in November 2014. Everyone seems to agree that the new bond needs to be smaller than the $11 billion bond currently slated for that ballot, which polling suggests is more than the voters are likely to approve. But agreeing on what the new bond should include is proving harder. Our advice? This is an opportunity to put California on a more sustainable water funding diet - with a balanced portfolio that relies less on periodic injections of general-fund-backed debt.


From: Alex Breitler, Stockton Record

In the age of Google Earth and GPS, century-old hand-drawn maps of the Delta would seem irrelevant.

Not so.

In fact, recent state actions in the Delta had so many lawyers and engineers rifling through documents at the San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum that now officials there have put some of that material online.

From: Alex Breitler, Stockton Record

Legislation that would have forced water agencies to reduce their reliance on the fragile Delta - or risk losing out on state funding - has been significantly weakened.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Susan Meeker, Glenn County Transcript

Water wars are expensive and most often fruitless, but U.S. Rep. John Garamendi said he is willing to throw down the gauntlet to stop the governor's plan to build two underground tunnels that have the potential to suck the Sacramento River dry.

Salton Sea

From: Kim Delfino, Desert Sun

Right now, the California Legislature is discussing the next statewide water bond. Key issues are being decided: How much money should California spend to provide safe and reliable drinking water for people and healthy aquatic ecosystems for fish and wildlife? Toward what activities should the state direct the bond funding?


From: Editorial Staff, Bakersfield Californian

Three out of four Californians surveyed in "key legislative districts" said they fear hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique used to extract oil from hard-to-reach areas, such as the Monterey Shale, could pollute the state's ground water.

The polling data released last week by the Natural Resources Defense Council might have some meaning if popularity contests were used to set public policy. But we are talking about regulating an industry with the potential of creating thousands of jobs and bolstering the state's economy.

Friday, August 23, 2013

News articles and links from August 23, 2013

Trinity River

From: Dan Nelson, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority

Today's decision by Judge O'Neill to lift the temporary restraining order which prevented the release of water from Trinity Reservoir results in a significant decrease in the harm originally expected to occur. Yesterday, the United States reduced their stated need of up to 109,000 acre-feet of water, which they claimed just last week was the amount necessary, to now only 20,000 acre-feet. Clearly the scientific justification they provided last week just couldn't hold up.

From: Catherine Wong, Eureka Times-Standard

Trinity River water will be released to protect salmon after a federal judge lifted his order Thursday afternoon, finding the additional flows critical to preventing a repeat of the massive fish kill from 2002.

From: Associated Press, Sacramento Bee  
From: Associated Press, San Jose Mercury News
From: Associated Press, KFMB-TV 8

A U.S. District judge ruled late Thursday that water can be released from Northern California's Trinity Reservoir to prevent a salmon kill in the lower Klamath River, but the amount of water involved will be far less than the federal government initially asked for.

From: Bob Egelko, SF Chronicle

A federal judge late Thursday allowed the government to release water into the Klamath River to protect spawning salmon, saying the danger of a major fish kill outweighed the loss of irrigation water to Central Valley farmers.

From: Damon Arthur, Redding Record Searchlight
From: Damon Arthur, Chico Enterprise-Record

A federal judge this afternoon reversed his earlier ruling and approved sending more water down the Trinity River to help spawning Chinook salmon.

From: Mark Grossi, Hispanic Business  

A Members of two Northern California tribes Tuesday demonstrated at Westlands Water District, asking district officials to drop their lawsuit against water releases that would protect a large run of salmon.

From: Grant Scott-Goforth, North Coast Journal

Trinity River water will flow. The Fresno judge who issued a restraining order on extra releases from the Trinity Reservoir last week ruled this afternoon to lift the restraining order.

From: Bob Haagerson, KFSN-TV 30 

A federal judge ruled the needs of salmon in a Northern California river outweighed the needs of farmers in the Westlands Water District.

Water Supply

From: Antoine Abou-Diwan, Imperial Valley Press

Participation in the Imperial Irrigation District's water apportionment plan is slowly growing.

More than 42 percent of the Equitable Distribution Plan's water apportionment acceptance forms have been turned in, which corresponds to roughly the same percentage of farmable acres in the Imperial Valley, said Ben Brock, assistant water manager with the IID.

Salton Sea

From: Matt Williams, ACWA

A new interagency report released this week details a long-term plan for studying and measuring changes at the Salton Sea.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Maven, Maven's Notebook

At the Delta Stewardship Council's meeting on August 22, Karla Nemeth, project manager, and Gordon Enas, engineer, were there to brief council members on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).  The presentation included an overview of the project and how it fits in to the Delta Plan as well as a in-depth discussion of the capacity of the tunnels.

From: Mary S. Fuller, Sacramento Bee

Re "Tunnels are far from perfect" (Letters, Aug. 22) and "Climate report warns on seas" (Page A1, Aug. 20): Given the belief that the ocean's level is rising, wouldn't it make more sense to invest money in desalination of its water instead of the Delta tunnel project?


From: Steve Carson, Chico Enterprise-Record

The Sacramento River salmon bite remains excellent, with numerous boats hitting the water every day this week.