Thursday, October 31, 2013

News articles and links from October 31, 2013

Sacramento River

From: Nick Croce, Santa Ynez Valley News

Solvang means "sunny fields" in Danish, and that's an apt description for our community.

But Solvang needs more than abundant sunshine and caravans of visitors to thrive. We also need water. And that's the rub. Our water supplies always have been dicey. That means we have to husband our water resources carefully. And for the most part, we do that.

Unfortunately, our city officials have allowed themselves to be snookered by a boondoggle known as the Twin Tunnels. This scheme, pushed by the state Department of Water Resources, would shunt water from the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta south via a pair of gigantic tunnels.

Coalition response...Nick DiCroce should be ashamed of his misleading descriptions of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and California water rights.

The BDCP is in response to a 2009 mandate by the State Legislature to restore the ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta and to create a reliable water supply for 25 million Californians and 3 million acres of productive farmland. In recent years the supply of water that flows through the Delta for delivery to users has been reduced by as much as 90 percent.

His comment that "No cost-benefit analysis has been conducted." doesn't square with readily available, published economic data. And he mixes construction costs with total costs, which includes financing, in an attempt to illustrate out-of-control spending. An analysis headed by economist David Sunding of UC Berkeley reveals that the State's economy will receive an $84 billion benefit from the overall project. Read Dr. Sunding's economic impacts report here. 

In fact, the total cost for construction, operation and maintenance is only about $5 per month for Southern California residents. That's a small price to pay to protect the safety and reliability of our water supply. Why didn't Nick mention that?

Claiming that California's water resources are oversubscribed by a factor of five ignores the fact that water rights are issued for specific uses at specific places and time. That means water can be used at one place and time to generate power, and then a second time to irrigate a field of tomatoes and once again for washing clothes in a city or town. Water is used over and over in California and rights for each of those uses are unique.
Plenty of factual information exists on how California can protect its water supply at an affordable cost at

Water Plan  

From: Draft Report, NRA CDFA,CAL/EPA 

The California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Food and Agriculture today released a detailed draft action plan to help guide state efforts and resources on one of California's most important resources, water. The California Water Action Plan will focus on the reliability of our water supply, the needed ecosystem restoration to bring our water system back into balance, and the resilience of our infrastructure.   

Water Bond 

From: Ian James, Desert Sun

State lawmakers held a hearing in Indio on Wednesday to tout a proposed $6.5 billion bond that would go before voters and would be aimed at alleviating California's serious water problems.

Those who voiced support for the bond during the meeting included representatives of the Imperial Irrigation District, Coachella Valley Water District, Riverside County, Imperial County and the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribe. They also urged lawmakers to earmark a significant amount of money for the Salton Sea to remedy problems such as dust storms along its shores as the lake shrinks.


From: Ken Carlson, Modesto Bee

Stanislaus County supervisors unanimously approved a long-awaited groundwater ordinance Tuesday and said they need to move faster on regulations to address overdrafting in the eastern portion of the county.


From: Ari Phillips, Climate Progress

California is known for its massive water infrastructure in which northern reservoirs, which fill up from the Sierra Nevada snowpack, supply the populous southern and coastal regions of the state. However going into a third year of dry winter conditions, many of these northern man-made oases are at precariously low levels, hovering between one-third and one-half capacity, far less than the average for October.

Water Supply

From: Staff,

As the fall harvest winds down under what have been generally sunny, dry conditions on the West Side, the focus of the ag community is turning toward winter months - with hopes that Mother Nature will deliver an abundance of rain and snow.

From: Patrick Cavanaugh, California Ag Today  

Water-the only thing that farmers care about right now.  Without water, nothing else matters.

And nowhere is the worry greater than in the Federal Water Districts, such as Westlands, San Luis, and Panoche; all Westside water allocations throughout Fresno County and other counties of the Central Valley will be severely cut.


From: Press Release, USBR

The Bureau of Reclamation's Mid-Pacific Region announced today that Jason Phillips has been selected as the Deputy Regional Director. This position was formerly the Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

News articles and links from October 30, 2013

Water Bond 

From: Guy McCarthy, Palm Desert Patch

The state Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife will hold a public hearing Wednesday Oct. 30 on a proposed state water bond at Indio City Hall.

The hearing is at 2 p.m. at Indio's City Hall, 100 Civic Center Mall. The committee's chairman, Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lynwood, and Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, D-Coachella, will give opening remarks.


From: Press Release, USBR  
From: Staff, Oakdale Leader

The Bureau of Reclamation will open the Delta Cross Channel Gates on Thursday, Oct. 31, at approximately 9 a.m., in order to meet Bay-Delta flow standards at Rio Vista, Calif., according to State Water Resources Control Board Decision D-1641. The gates will be closed on Monday, Nov. 4, at 9 a.m. and will remain closed until further notice.


From: John Holland, Modesto Bee

The fertilizers that help California produce food for the world might also threaten some of the drinking water at home, experts said Tuesday in Modesto. They also noted ways that farmers have improved their use of fertilizers in recent years in response to the concerns, mainly about nitrates in public wells.

Water Supply

From: Press Release, Imperial Irrigation District

In light of the seriousness of the drought in the Lower Colorado River Basin, and in preparation for water payback requirements to the Colorado River of about 155,000 acre-feet in 2014, the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors, Monday, approved revisions to the district's Equitable Distribution Plan.

Salton Sea

From: Editorial Staff, Desert Sun

The pledge by three Imperial County entities to develop renewable energy projects to generate money for the restoration of the Salton Sea could be a big step. Progress is long overdue in a decades-long debate that has been incredibly frustrating for those of us who see the future of the shrinking sea as the region's largest pending threat to public health and the environment.

Water Plan 

From: Stephen Crane, Calaveras Enterprise

The Association of California Water Agencies published its opinions on statewide water issues earlier this month, and not everyone in Calaveras County is enthusiastic about the conclusions.

"I was concerned and expressed continuous concern about developing this (Statewide Water Action Plan) process," Calaveras County Water District General Manager Mitch Dion told the district's board of directors a meeting held Oct. 23.


From: Justin Ewers, California Economic Summit

California has always been rich in human capital, but to take advantage of the state's greatest assets, Californians' boldness and creativity-and to compete in the global economy-the state must make smart investments in its physical capital, as well.

The physical backbone of the state's economy-its transportation and water infrastructure, in particular-is the focus of the Summit's Infrastructure action plan, which outlines a comprehensive new infrastructure investment strategy for California.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

News articles and links from October 29, 2013

San Joaquin River

From: Mark Grossi, Fresno Beehive

Starting Tuesday, you'll see San Joaquin River water pouring faster out of Friant Dam. It's part of the experimental flows in the river restoration project.

The releases first will ramp up to 1,050 cubic feet per second - about 2,000 acre-feet of water in one day.  Later this week, it will be dropped to 700 cfs through Nov. 6. Then it will drop to 350 until the end of February.

Water Supply

From: Antoine Abou-Diwan, Imperial Valley Press

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors approved on Monday an apportionment plan that allocates water to Imperial Valley farmland in a way that blends a field's historical water consumption with an equal "straight-line" allocation.


From: Ian James, Desert Sun  

While water agencies in the California desert are considering ways to keep groundwater levels from falling further, many reservoirs are dwindling across the state.

Biological Opinions  

From: Press Release, USBR

The Bureau of Reclamation, in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Water Resources has scheduled an annual science review and workshop on the long-term operations biological opinions of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. The 2013 annual science review will be the fourth annual review.


From: Dennis Pollock, Western Farm Press

A flurry of meetings is under way as leaders of the Kings River Water Quality Coalition reach out to growers on nearly 1 million irrigated acres of the nation's most productive farmland.

The meetings were spawned by new regulations from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board that call for increased scrutiny on groundwater and contaminants that include nitrates.

"Before, the focus was on surface water," said David Orth, who heads the coalition. "Now it's expanding into groundwater."

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Press Release, BDCP

As a joint effort of state and federal agencies preparing the BDCP, the recent shutdown of the federal government and associated staff furloughs have delayed the development, review, and ultimately the release of the Public Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS). The Public Draft BDCP and EIR/EIS are now scheduled for release on December 13, 2013 for 120 days of formal review.


From: Ron Peterson, Modesto Bee 

As the president of Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, I am proud to say that our Farm Bureau board unanimously voted to endorse Jake Wenger for MID Division 4, Ron Macedo for TID District 5 and Joe Alamo for TID District 3 board positions.

Monday, October 28, 2013

News articles and links from October 28, 2013

Sacramento River

From: Rep. John Garamendi, Woodland Daily Democrat

California's aging water infrastructure is insufficient for our present and future needs. Unfortunately, the current Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its two massive tunnels is a destructive $25 billion boondoggle that won't solve the problem. California can solve its water needs and end the water wars that pit north vs. south and water exporters vs. environmentalists - but not with the BDCP.

Coalition response...While Rep. Garamendi includes several good proposals in his water plan, his suggestion for moving water through the Delta does not provide a reliable water supply for farmers and others who are currently suffering under 20 years of water supply cuts due to Endangered Species Act regulations. The State Legislature called for a plan in 2009 that would restore the Delta ecosystem and provide California with a reliable water supply. Bay Delta Conservation Plan researchers have looked at numerous tunnel proposals and have concluded the current twin tunnel plan provides the best opportunity to meet the Legislature's mandate.


From: Mark Grossi, Fresno Bee

Pine Flat Reservoir is a ghost of a lake in the Fresno County foothills - a puddle in a 326 billion-gallon gorge.

Holding only 16% of its capacity, Pine Flat is the best example of why there is high anxiety over the approaching wet season.

From: Associated Press, Modesto Bee

State water officials are warning that low water levels in reservoirs across the state should be a warning that conservation measures might be necessary to get through next year.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: David Sunding, Sacramento Bee

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is a voluntary search for common ground in one of the nation's highest-stakes natural resource disputes.

As a balancing act, the plan was not designed by economists. Yet it appears on track to becoming a sound investment for dozens of public water agencies and the California public at large.

From: Tim Rutten, LA Daily News 
From: Tim Rutten, Pasadena Star-News  
From: Tim Rutten, Torrance Daily Breeze 
From: Tim Rutten, Whittier Daily News 
From: Tim Rutten, San Gabriel Valley Tribune 
From: Tim Rutten, San Bernardino Sun 
From: Tim Rutten, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin 
From: Tim Rutten, Redlands Daily Facts
From: Tim Rutten, Long Beach Press Telegram

It also might move you to take a much more serious look at the expansion and overhaul of the California water system that is among Gov. Jerry Brown's most ambitious - and controversial - proposals.

Last week, the National Weather Service's Oxnard facility issued its formal prediction on the coming winter's precipitation, and the forecast is for "below normal rainfall" in Southern California and along the Central Coast. If the prediction is accurate, we're looking at the third consecutive rainy season in which the moisture level fails to meet recent historical expectations.

From: Jerry Meral, Fox & Hounds

Fortunately, in this day of bitter partisan divides, there are some issues which can unite people across the political spectrum.  Water reliability and ecological restoration can be two such issues.

California's vibrant economy and strong employment growth are both reliant on a dependable water supply.  An interruption or reduction in the supply of water to most of the state from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta would cost the economy as much as $10 billion a year, and up to 40,000 jobs.


From: Heather Hacking, Chico Enterprise-Record

Landowners will soon be tasked with new rules for groundwater monitoring being finalized by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The program will include new reports and monitoring managed by water quality coalitions.

From: Editorial Staff, Modesto Bee

The city of Modesto and the Modesto Irrigation District, we all know, have had some serious conflicts in the last two years over water.

But step back from this momentary conflict and it's obvious that the arrangement of using Tuolumne River water to supplement well water has provided Modestans a reliable source of water for household and business use.

From: Ken Carlson, Modesto Bee

Stanislaus County leaders could approve an ordinance Tuesday to put restrictions on groundwater mining and out-of-county transfers that threaten to deplete local aquifers.


From: John Lindsey, SLO Tribune

So far, 2013 is now the driest year on record at Cal Poly since 1870 when weather observations started.

The second driest January-to-October on record at Cal Poly occurred in 1972, when 5.5 inches of rain fell. The next driest was 1984, when 4.3 inches of precipitation were recorded. So far this year, only a meager 3.5 inches of rain has fallen.

From: Julie Lynem, SLO Tribune

Faced with a second year of severe drought, many San Luis Obispo County cattle ranchers have been forced to thin their herds and bring in costly feed to keep animals healthy.

"We're waiting for the rain, and it's going to be real ugly if we don't get any this winter," said Richard Gonzales, who operates a cow-calf operation in Paso Robles.

Salton Sea 

From: Editorial Staff, Imperial Valley Press

The memorandum of understanding signed Thursday among the Imperial Irrigation District, Imperial County and its air pollution control district is momentous in many respects. First of all, it helps mend about 10 years of contentious debate over the validity of the Quantification Settlement Agreement and the conditions put in place. While opposing sides no doubt felt they were within their rights to contest - and still continue to contest - each other, the MOU should act as a gentlemen's agreement and help facilitate the type of compromise that a year ago might have been unthinkable.


From: Alex Breitler, Modesto Bee 

Another near-record salmon run is expected on the Stanislaus River this fall.

So if you've never seen a mighty Chinook, this might be the year to get out there and find one.

The first opportunity was Saturday at the Stanislaus River Salmon Festival at Knights Ferry, off Highway 120 east of Oakdale.


From: Bob Curtis and Gabriele Ludwig, Western Farm Press

Workshops covering two topics of critical importance to California Almond growers - water use and nitrogen management - will be on tap at The Almond Conference, to be held Dec. 3-5 in Sacramento.