Friday, November 22, 2013

News articles and links from November 22, 2013

Water Rights

From: Staff, Los Angeles Daily News

When someone says that there are two Californias, the reference these days is usually to the political differences between coastal and inland residents rather than the historical split between north and south.

But there is a third and even more telling divide in this state, and it has to do with the water wars that create some of our most bitter intra-state rivalries.

While the rest of the nation and the world may imagine that California is all Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach, Sierra Nevada vistas and Hollywood stars, the reality is that we are also America's greengrocer. There is no more fertile place on Earth than our Central Valley.

Coalition response... This editorial uses some inflammatory language to make a point about water rights in California...but it misses two important points Southern Californians should be aware of.

First, the cost of water is based on the cost of delivery. Farm water is less expensive because it is a different product than the water consumers get from the tap. Urban water supplies are much more highly purified and must meet strict State and federal drinking water quality standards.  Urban water supplies usually also have to travel further than water used on the farm, which increases the cost due to more infrastructure. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the turn of a faucet. Farm water generally does not share that same reliability. All of these things add to the cost of water that consumers receive in their homes.

Secondly, the value of farm production as a small percentage of California's GDP is a plus for consumers. Our domestic food supply is inexpensive and available in bountiful varieties and abundant quantities. This allows people to avoid having to think about the source or safety of the food they feed their families. Research shows that people trust farmers. And they want their food to be grown locally, be as fresh as possible and be affordable. California farms can do that when they have access to adequate, dependable and affordable water supplies.

Water Supply

From: Alex Breitler, eSanJoaquin

State water officials today announced a mere 5 percent initial allocation next year for cities from the Bay Area to San Diego, and some south San Joaquin Valley farms.

These first, conservative numbers almost always improve as winter storms begin to bolster the snowpack in the High Sierra. But how often do State Water Project customers actually get a full allocation?

Coalition response... It is important to recognize that millions of Californians and the farms that grow food, employ people and contribute to the economy received 100 percent of their supply through 1990 except for 1977, a severe drought year. Since 1990, in addition to water-short years, the reductions in deliveries have been caused by new laws and Endangered Species Act regulations written to protect Delta fish. The result of these regulations is less water for users while fish are still facing the same problems. Isn't it time to look for solutions that really work instead of doing the same failed practices over and over and over?

Water Supply

From: Staff,  

The Department of Water Resources announced its initial water allocation for next year. Is considered very low at only five percent.


From: Patrick Cavanaugh, California Ag Today

At the San Joaquin Valley Groundwater Overdraft Meeting in Tulare, David Orth, General Manager of Kings River Conservation District, Fresno, presented his assessment of the groundwater challenges California faces.

"We have tried to manage groundwater, but unfortunately, overdraft has become the report card and it is giving us somewhat of a poor grade just because of overdraft conditions," Orth began.

Salton Sea

From: Jim Miller, Sacramento Bee

California officials need to start focusing on restoring the ailing Salton Sea or else the state faces hundreds of millions of dollars in new costs as early as 2025, according to a new state audit.


From: Press Release, U.S. Geological Survey

Extensive groundwater pumping from San Joaquin Valley aquifers is increasing the rate of land subsidence, or sinking. This large-scale and rapid subsidence has the potential to cause serious damage to the water delivery infrastructure that brings water from the north of the valley to the south where it helps feed thirsty cropland and cities. According to a new report by the U.S. Geological Survey the subsidence is occurring in such a way that there may be significant operational and structural challenges that need to be overcome to ensure reliable water delivery.

From: John Fowler,

On Thursday Bay Area scientists announced that nearly 1200 square miles of California was sinking because people had pumped so much water out of the ground.

Scientists say in some spots right now the ground's sinking about one foot each year.

From: Staff, KCRA 

Transcript: The ground beneath our feet is sinking and sinking faster than ever before. This sinking land could cause some problems for what we build on top of it. We have more on what is causing the problem and how stopping it won't be easy. Using stations like this one, scientist from the U.S. Geological Survey have found that much of the land in the central valley is not only sinking, but sinking faster than ever before. Land sinking or subsiding has been going on for decades.

From: Staff, CBS 13

More than 1,000 square miles of the central valley is sinking faster than ever, because of the overuse of water during drought years.

The process is called subsidence, and it's when the top layer begins to sink because groundwater is being taken out from underneath.

"You can more look at it like a sponge, so when a sponge is dry, it is smaller," sad U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist Michelle Sneed. "If you put water in, it inflates a little bit.

From: J.N. Sbranti, Modesto Bee 
From: J.N. Sbranti, Merced Sun-Star  

So much groundwater is being pumped from the San Joaquin Valley that it's causing a massive swath of Merced County's surface to sink at an alarming rate, U.S. Geological Survey researchers revealed Thursday.

Parts of Merced south of El Nido dropped more than 21 inches in just two years. That area - often called Red Top by locals - appears to be continuing to sink at a rate of nearly 1 foot per year.

From: Jason Dearen, AP- Sacramento Bee
From: Jason Dearen, AP- Stockton Record  
From: Jason Dearen, AP-  
From: Jason Dearen, AP-  
From: Jason Dearen, AP- The Bakersfield Californian  
From: Jason Dearen, AP- Modesto Bee
From: Jason Dearen, AP- UT San Diego

Land in California's San Joaquin Valley is sinking more rapidly than usual because of increased pumping from underground sources, a phenomenon that is damaging vital water infrastructure, the U.S. Geological Survey said Thursday.

The USGS study found that land sinking had been measured at nearly one-foot per year in one area, and that it is reducing the flow capacity of the Delta-Mendota Canal and the California Aqueduct, two key sources of water.

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