Monday, August 5, 2013

News articles and links from August 5, 2013

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Associated Press, Stockton Record   
From: Associated Press, Sacramento Bee
From: Associated Press, Modesto Bee
From: Associated Press, Washington Post
From: Associated Press, Marysville Appeal-Democrat
From: Associated Press, Visalia Times-Delta
From: Associated Press, ABC News
From: Associated Press, KERO-TV 23
From: Associated Press, KFMB-TV 8
From: Associated Press, KFSN-TV 30

As a giant harvesting machine uprooted and sucked in hundreds of tomato plants a row at a time, Dan Errotabere contemplated massive strips of bare land on his farm.

"Everything we have in our operation is under duress," he said, looking at a stretch of fallow acres once covered in garlic, onions and other crops.

Errotabere and hundreds of others who run massive farms in California's Central Valley have left tens of thousands of acres barren this year after seeing their water supplies severely curtailed. He and the other members of the nation's largest federal irrigation district say the restrictions are hindering their growth and jeopardizing their future.

Coalition response...Another way of looking at this issue would be that farmers are battling to regain the water supply that they lost when it was reallocated for environmental purposes. Public water agencies and the farmers they serve are seeking reliability in water deliveries that have been plunged into chaos. Government regulations are to blame for taking water away from one of the most productive food-growing regions in the country. Despite misrepresentations that a small number of large agribusinesses benefit from this water supply, most of the operations are actually smaller, multi-generational family farms that have worked the land in some cases for more than 100 years. Provide a reliable water supply to these farmers and consumers will not be faced with grocery shelves filled with products from overseas sources.

Critics who think farmland in the San Joaquin Valley should be abandoned refuse to acknowledge that the valley includes some of the most productive farmland on earth. Food grown in this area can be found in markets around the corner and around the world. Exports mean good paying jobs for California's workforce.

Westlands Water District does not stand alone in seeing the water it delivers to farmers be cut back by as much as 90 percent in recent years. An additional 28 public water agencies that receive water from the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) have also experienced these same cutbacks.

Contrary to Kate Poole's comment about Westlands being "behind in paying back the cost of existing irrigation facilities," water agencies that receive CVP supplies are doing the best they can under current circumstances to repay the construction, operation and maintenance costs of the system. These water suppliers pay according to how much water they receive as stipulated in their contracts. If Poole and others want the districts to be paying more, then they should support restoring water deliveries so water users have a means to repay their commitments.

Water Supply

From: Kevin Johnson, Sacramento Bee

California has a water problem. The water is in the north while the majority of Californians are in the south. Although we have made great strides in conservation, our demand for water is still greater than our supply. These challenges are compounded by the impacts of climate change, which will further strain California's water infrastructure and supply. Gov. Jerry Brown has delivered innovative, forward-thinking solutions to many of California's most pressing issues. That is why I believe Gov. Brown can come up with an innovative solution when it comes to water policy.

Coalition response...In 2009 the California Legislature directed water officials to create a reliable water supply and restore the ecosystem of the Delta. This directive did not include increasing our state's water supplies. The development of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is following the legislature's direction and is the best opportunity to help secure a reliable water future for California.

Attempts to delay BDCP implementation while developing a "comprehensive state water plan" fails to recognize that a water plan for all of California is a constantly evolving process. Many of the actions that people claim should be in a plan are already taking place. Conservation, recycling, development of local supplies and more are already underway throughout our state.

The cost of constructing tunnels, restoring habitat and improving the Delta ecosystem as part of BDCP will be paid by those who benefit. Water users who will benefit from the tunnels will pay their share of the construction costs, estimated to be $14 billion.

California law mandates that existing water rights shall not be negatively impacted by new projects. This means that the BDCP is restricted from harming someone else's water right. Comparing the future of the Sacramento Valley to the Owens Valley is a serious misrepresentation of the benefits BDCP offers to all of California. Mayor Johnson should have known better that to enflame the public discussion with this type of politically charged rhetoric.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan 

From: Press Release, Natural Resources Agency

A new economic analysis of the costs and benefits of Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.'s plan to revitalize the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem and stabilize water deliveries shows a net benefit to California residents of $4.8 billion to $5.4 billion statewide.

Economic study available here.
BDCP Statewide Economic Impacts Fact Sheet available here.
Finance Working Group meeting on August 8.

Water Supply

From: Laura van der Meer, Marysville Appeal-Democrat

California's dry spell is increasing the possibility of water delivery deficiencies for farmers in 2014, according to data from the Yuba County Water Agency.

From: Maven, Maven's Notebook

At the July 25th meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, the Council heard an update from the Department of Water Resources on hydrologic conditions and a panel of water managers briefed the Council on how their particular agencies and regions were meeting the challenges of the dry conditions. At the request of Council members, staff will be arranging for the Council to have regular updates on drought conditions, water operations, and the related impacts on stakeholders and the Delta ecosystem through the end of 2013 and beyond as needed and as conditions remain dry.

From: Wendilyn Grasseschi, Mammoth Times

The hot, dry summer of 2013 is not over.

But for some farmers, it might as well be.

Last week, when the National Weather Service posted a notice that all Eastern Sierra counties are in a state of severe drought, it was no surprise to the ranchers and farmers in the region.


From: Mark Grossi, Fresno Bee

A crowd of about 500 applauded often Saturday as San Joaquin Valley water leaders called for change in policies that drastically limited their irrigation supplies this year, resulting in many barren acres of farmland.

Northern California fish protections this year added to drought problems and left federal water contractors with a 20% allocation from the sensitive Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

From: Staff, CBS-TV 47

Valley leaders gathered Saturday at Fresno State to discuss how to resolve the current shortage of water in California.

Over a dozen speakers spoke about what can be done to make water more available now and in the future.

From: Mark Grossi, Fresno Beehive

Readers emailed to clarify a point in my Delta Water Summit story, which referred to seven lawsuits over the Delta Plan that was approved by the Delta Stewardship Council on May 16.

The Delta Plan is not a draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. The Delta Plan, required in 2009 by the state Legislature, contains rules for the longer-term approach or framework for managing the sensitive Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

From: Editorial Board, Sacramento Bee

The scene at Folsom Lake isn't pretty, and it's sure to become far uglier if Mother Nature doesn't save the state with a wet winter.

Some of the region's water agencies, including the San Juan Water District and the Placer County Water Agency, accuse Reclamation of mismanaging water supplies in Folsom Lake to the detriment of local users. Reclamation officials dispute these claims, arguing that, as part of the Central Valley Project, they are obligated to operate Folsom for several uses - including local water supply and recreation but also for flows downstream to maintain water quality and fish flows in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.


From: Staff, FISHBIO

The role of predation in aquatic ecosystems can be a complex matter, and when it concerns Central Valley salmon and steelhead populations, a contentious one as well. Recently, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) held a two-day workshop in Davis, California, to obtain independent scientific input on the topic of predation from an expert panel. The primary purpose of the workshop, titled "State of the Science Workshop on Fish Predation on Central Valley Salmonids in the Bay-Delta Watershed" was for the panel to evaluate and summarize the current state of knowledge related to predation in the Central Valley. In addition, the panel was charged with developing a strategy for future research to reduce scientific uncertainty related to predation. In mid-September, the panel will issue a formal report that addresses the key questions of the workshop and future research strategies.


From: Mark Grossi, Fresno Beehive

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is preparing a report on raising San Luis Dam to enlarge San Luis Reservoir in western Merced County.

The 2 million acre-foot reservoir is already the key west Valley holding place for irrigation water for a broad swath of farming, including 600,000-acre Westlands Water District.

Bureau Commissioner Michael Connor on Saturday mentioned his agency is working on a draft appraisal, which roughly describes the benefits, costs and feasibility of raising the dam. Connor was a panel member at the Delta Water Summit.

ESA Ruling - Orca Whales 

From: Steve Milne, Capital Public Radio

Orca whales that spend their summers in Seattle's Puget Sound eat salmon from the Sacramento River when they head into the Pacific Ocean each winter.

California farmers face water restrictions to protect those salmon.

The Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation filed a petition on behalf of farmers arguing that the orcas don't qualify for the 2005 endangered species listing because the animals are part of a north Pacific population that is not endangered.

From: Associated Press, SF Chronicle

Killer whales that spend their summers in Puget Sound are a distinct population group and will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Friday.

Klamath Basin 

From: Associated Press, Redding Record Searchlight  
From: Associated Press, Modesto Bee 

Amid drought and major fires, a task force trying to pick its way through the Klamath Basin's long water struggles has met again, with some contention and no resolution.

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