Monday, September 30, 2013

News articles and links for September 30, 2013


From: Press Release, Delta Protection Commission

Larry Ruhstaller, a Member of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, has been chosen to serve as Chair of the Delta Protection Commission effective Tuesday, October 1st, 2013. Mary N. Piepho, Supervisor for Contra Costa County, was elected to serve as Vice Chair.


From: Report, DWR 

For selected reservoirs in Northern and Southern California ending at midnight 09/29/2013.

From: Alex Breitler, Stockton Record

This might be a good time for nature to turn over a new leaf.

California's new water year starts Tuesday, and the state desperately needs rain and snow this winter.

Water Bond

From: Bettina Boxall, LA Times

Californians say the state's water supply system has serious problems that require improvement, but they are unwilling to spend billions of dollars in ratepayer and taxpayer funds on the task, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

The results suggest an uphill fight for proponents of a state water bond and for a proposal to replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the transfer point for Northern California supplies delivered to the San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California.

From: Editorial Staff, SF Chronicle

Clean, drinkable water for disadvantaged communities is the feel-good component of both of the water bond bills proposed to replace the pork-laden $11 billion measure now on the November 2014 ballot.

The real elephant in the room, however, is the governor's proposed twin tunnel project to improve the quality and reliability of water exported from the delta. Should state taxpayers fund the delta restoration improvements the plan requires, thus eliminating funding for other kinds of regional water efficiency and improvement projects?

From: Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee

There is simply nothing more important to California's future than an adequate and dependable supply of clean water.


From: Ken Carlson, Modesto Bee

Stanislaus County supervisors won't take up a groundwater ordinance on Tuesday as previously intended. The long-awaited ordinance dealing with groundwater exports has been pushed back to Oct. 29.

The county's legal experts have fine-tuned the language, and a committee including local water district officials will take a final look, said Keith Boggs, an assistant executive officer for the county.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Gerald Meral, Contra Costa Times  

An opinion piece that ran recently on this page contained misstatements regarding the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

While this article did correctly characterize the Bay Delta Conservation Plan as a Habitat Conservation Plan, it incorrectly identified the plan's goals and requirements.

From: Larry Wilson, LA Times

While it may not be the Mississippi, California has a delta, too, and some of its residents are singing the blues.

On Monday, the Metropolitan Water District and the California Department of Water Resources hosted a tour in support of the massive proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a 50-year project to send Delta water south in big tunnels and protect the habitat of native fish and plants. Opponents don't see it as conservation. They see more efforts to transfer water from their north to our south.


From: Maven, Maven's Notebook 

In April of 2013, the Public Policy Institute of California released the report, Stress Relief: Prescriptions for  Healthier Delta Ecosystem, which noted that the state is at a critical juncture with adoption and forthcoming implementation of the first "Delta Plan" and a decision on the BDCP possible by early next year.  "But California still faces an uphill battle to incorporate science effectively in decision making and make judicious management choices with a highly fragmented and adversarial institutional structure involving dozens of federal, state, and local entities," states the report's summary.

From: Maven, Maven's Notebook

Public comment period now open for Delta drinking water policy: The State Water Resources Control Board is now taking public comment on the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board's  amendment to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins that would establish a Drinking Water Policy for surface waters of the Delta and its upstream tributaries. The amendment was adopted by the regional board in July of this year.


From: Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee

A Sacramento judge has given what appears to be final approval to a long-pending plan by the San Diego Water Authority to buy several hundred thousand acre-feet of water each year from the Imperial Irrigation District, 100 miles to the east.

From: Seth Nidever, Hanford Sentinel

In sign of just how nervous Kings County farmers are about water, controversy has flared over a seemingly routine bill authored by Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield.

AB 426, dealing with water rights transfers, was part of a package of Salas-authored water bills that cleared the Legislature earlier this month and are sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk waiting for a signature.


From: John Lindsey, SLO Tribune  

December 2010 produced more than 12 inches of rain at Cal Poly (home of climatology for San Luis Obispo). That was the most rain in the month of December since 1931. However, since January 2011, almost every month has experienced below-normal precipitation. In fact, so far 2013 is the third driest year on record at Cal Poly.


From: June Williams, Courthouse News Service

Government lawyers told the 9th Circuit it would cause "chaos" to renegotiate dozens of water projects that environmentalists say relied on faulty science.

The fight against the Department of Interior and Fish and Wildlife Service dates back to 2005 when the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and other environmental groups first demanded a new biological assessment and halt of proposed changes to the irrigation project that would pump more water out of the San Francisco and San Joaquin River Delta.


From: Dennis Wyatt, Manteca Bulletin  

A move by South San Joaquin Irrigation District to possibly become the first irrigation district in California to go to a 100 percent pressurized delivery system may pay unexpected dividends in reduced ongoing maintenance costs.

From: Marina Gaytan, Merced Sun-Star

The San Luis Canal Co., encompassing approximately 45,000 acres of fertile farm land between the cities of Dos Palos and Los Banos, recently celebrated their 100 year anniversary.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

News articles and links from September 26, 2013

Water Supply

From: Heather Hacking, Chico Enterprise-Record

A recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of Californian asked how people felt about the future of water supply, how they'd vote on a scaled-back water bond and if they are opposed to fracking.

Other questions included legalization of marijuana, granting immigration, gay and lesbian marriage, prison realignment, health care reform, military strike on Syria and abortion.

From: Press Release, Public Policy Institute of California

Half of Californians support the plan approved by the governor and legislature to reduce prison overcrowding, according to a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), with funding from The James Irvine Foundation. At the same time, overwhelming majorities are concerned about the possible early release of thousands of prisoners that the plan is designed to prevent.

There is less agreement among Californians on water policy. About half (53%) say the water supply for their part of the state will be somewhat or very inadequate in 10 years. And residents are divided about how to plan for the future. About half (49%) say we should focus on conservation, user allocation, and other strategies to manage water more efficiently, while 45 percent say we need to build new water storage systems.

From: Maven, Maven's Notebook

New PPIC survey shows Californians divided on water policy:  While Californians continue to support fracking regulations and strongly support oil companies obtaining permits and disclosing chemicals used in the process, they are much more divided on water policy, a new PPIC poll shows:   "... About half (53%) say the water supply for their part of the state will be somewhat or very inadequate in 10 years. And residents are divided about how to plan for the future. About half (49%) say we should focus on conservation, user allocation, and other strategies to manage water more efficiently, while 45 percent say we need to build new water storage systems.

From: John Myers, News-10 TV

Voters are firm in their opinions.  Except when they're not.

Consider that one of the big takeaways in a new statewide poll that suggests California voters may now be ready to do what they rejected just three years ago: legalize marijuana.

Water Woes: The new poll not only finds a familiar split when it comes to whether Californians want more water (45 percent) or just wiser usage of water (49 percent), but a pretty weak starting point for a big water bond measure on the statewide ballot.  Even when considering a $6.5 billion proposal (PDF) now being mulled at the Capitol -- smaller than the original water bond plan -- only 50 percent of likely voters queried by PPIC say they'd vote for it.

From: Richard Cray, Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Regular readers of the Appeal-Democrat will have noted the appearance of several recent articles dealing with water issues of one kind or another. Whether it's the water worries of the residents of Gold Village, the water bills of Marysville ratepayers, receding water tables in the Central Valley, or the fight over who controls the water of the Colorado River, two things about water are clear: everyone needs it, but not everyone can get what they need at the price they can afford.

From: Jim Finstad, Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Concerning the Sept. 18 article, "Farmers want to keep on truckin'":

Funds were available to farmers and ranchers interested in reducing air quality emissions from off-road mobile or stationary agriculture sources. The USDA-National Resources Conservation Service began taking applications in June 2009 to provide cost-sharing funds to replace, repower, or retrofit existing engines under a new clean air quality provision of the 2008 federal farm bill.


From: Pat Cavanaugh, California Ag Today

Bob Ehn, CEO and Technical Manager for the Clovis-based California Garlic and Onion Research Advisor Board, noted that the 2013-2014 season is shaping up to be a major production challenge.

"As expected, growers on the West Side are not committing to planting garlic or onions this winter, and processors and handlers are scrambling trying to find growers who can contract with them on land not effected by a possible zero Federal water allocation," said Ehn.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Steven Greenhut, San Diego Union-Tribune 

The system that moves water from relatively wet Northern California to arid Southern California is like a superhighway that's hundreds of miles long, but is slowed by about 40 miles of dirt roads in the middle of it.

That's how Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, described the state's main water problem during a media tour Monday of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta hosted by MWD and state water officials.

From: Janet E. Levers, Sacramento Bee

Re "Why south state backs Delta plan" (Page A1, Sept. 22): I appreciate the depth and breadth of Bee reporter Matt Weiser's article on the proposed Delta tunnels.

I do wish, however, that Weiser had taken a more critical, questioning view of the propaganda that the Department of Water Resources and and its Bay Delta Conservation Plan cronies have cooked up to justify this massive boondoggle.

Water Bond 

From: Staff, Vacaville Reporter 

A joint hearing of the Senate Environmental Quality and Natural Resources and Water Committees heard presentations and comments Tuesday on two water bond proposals, including Senator Lois Wolk's Senate Bill 42, The Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality & Flood Protection Act of 2014.


From: Maven, Maven's Notebook

On September 24, 2013, Metropolitan Water District's Special Committee on the Bay-Delta was updated on the status of the Collaborative Science and Adaptive Management Program (CSAMP) as well as the progress on several near-term Delta habitat restoration and emergency response preparedness projects.


From: Dennis Wyatt, Manteca Bulletin

California's ultimate water war will start in your bathroom.

It will be over who has rights to what you flush down your toilet, send down your sink drains and dump into the sewer system from your washing machine.

The wastewater under California Water Code Section 1210 is owned by the jurisdiction operating the system that collects and treats it. The owners of treatment plants, though, may not have exclusive rights to the treated effluent or the water released back into a stream or river. Water Code Section 1485 specially allows jurisdictions operating wastewater treatment plants that dump treated effluent into the San Joaquin River or the Delta to take an equal amount of water for sale or other beneficial purposes.


From: Antoine Abou-Diwan, Imperial Valley Press

The Imperial Irrigation District hosted a public workshop Wednesday to discuss the preservation of the IID's water rights and the challenges posed by the massive water transfer at the heart of the Quantification Settlement Agreement.

Yet, more than a year after the IID adopted an alternative approach to the QSA and less than two months after the validity of the transfer was upheld in court, the message from the district's attorneys is essentially the same: The IID and the farm community must make a reasonable effort to conserve Colorado River water.


From: Jono Kinkade, SLO New Times

County supes consider extending Paso basin urgency ordinance After making a tough 4-0 vote to approve a temporary urgency ordinance intended to slow water overdrafting from the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, the SLO County Board of Supervisors is about to do it again and decide whether to continue the ordinance for two years or to leave it dead in the water.

Water Quality 

From: Staff, Porterville Recorder

State water regulators have adopted an order for farmers to monitor and clean up groundwater in California's Central Valley, home to some of America's most contaminated aquifers.   

The order, adopted by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board on Thursday, affects about 10,700 growers in the Tulare Lake basin - including parts of Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties - who farm on about 3 million acres of irrigated farmland.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

News articles and links from September 25, 2013

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Michael Hiltzik, LA Times  

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically sensitive areas in the country and the source of 30% of Southern California's water. It's also broken.

Those may be the only facts about the delta on which everybody agrees.

Coalition response...Farmers use water to grow food and fiber to meet the demands of consumers. By allowing consumer choices to direct growers' crop selection, optimal allocation of resources is obtained. Meeting these demands in an environmentally-friendly way drives California's farmers to seek innovation both in their growing and their business practices.

One of those resources, water, continues to be a controversial issue throughout our state and local and statewide efforts have been developed to provide needed answers. Local actions that are guided at the local level have developed new water sources by multiple means, including conservation and construction of dams. Statewide efforts have established water supplies that benefit all Californians. California water users are currently working on ways to reduce their dependence on water that flows through the Delta.

The author's suggestion of "statewide, or even region wide, solution to the problem of limited water supply and burgeoning demand" is already underway.

Water Bond 

From: Pamela Martineau, ACWA  

The authors of two bills addressing the 2014 water bond outlined their proposals Tuesday during an informational joint hearing of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee and the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.

From: Maven, Maven's Notebook

A joint hearing of the Senate Environmental Quality and Natural Resources and Water Committees heard presentations and comments this morning on two water bond proposals, including Senator Lois Wolk's Senate Bill 42, The Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality & Flood Protection Act of 2014.

From: Ben Adler, Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers are taking a closer look at two new water bond proposals that would replace the measure currently set for next November's ballot.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Bettina Boxall, LA Times

The state will miss a self-imposed deadline for the release of a mountain of environmental documents for the proposed construction of a massive water tunnel system in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

In a Sept. 20 letter, California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird informed the U.S. Interior Department that the draft environmental review of the tunnel project would not be formally released until Nov. 15 -- six weeks later than the deadline set this year by Gov. Jerry Brown's administration.


From: NRCS Press Release, Sacramento Bee  

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller toured local farmland today that is benefiting from a federal partnership between NRCS and the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to protect the Bay-Delta Watershed. Approximately $6 million was invested by the two agencies, from 2011 - 2013, to upgrade irrigation water delivery infrastructure and on-farm irrigation equipment to conserve water for San Luis Canal Company farmers.

"Water is the lifeblood of agriculture and the environment," said Cannon Michael, a local farmer. "Farmers have a duty to be good stewards of our resources and conservation is a key element of good stewardship.  Improved water use efficiency and reduced runoff benefits farmers and the environment.  Our partnership with NRCS has yielded very positive results and their programs encourage conservation on a large scale."


From: Coachella Valley Water District

The workshopo will feature a panel discussion of state leaders and experts on the BDCP, including:

Dr. Jerry Meral, Deputy Secretary, California Natural Resources Agency
Brian Thomas, Managing Director, The PFM Group
Richard Atwater, Executive Director, Southern California Water Committee 

From: Southern California Water Committee  

SCWC will host its 29th Annual Dinner October 24 - be sure to register today & join us for a lively discussion about the 2014 Water Bond.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

News articles and links from September 24, 2013

Water Bond 

From: Norm Groot, Salinas Californian

Farmers are busy wrapping up their growing season here in the Salinas Valley ... harvest work continues for grapes, lettuce, vegetables, and strawberries. We were fortunate to have a mild summer this year which promoted good, healthy growth of these crops in local fields. Salinas Valley growers continue to supply our nation with healthy food choices.

So, does anyone remember the last time it rained? I mean, really rained? Yes, we picked up a fraction of an inch on Saturday, but It's been quite a while since the Central Coast had any significant rainfall, going back to last fall, yes, almost a year ago now. As you can see locally, this has made everything very dry in the foothills surrounding the Salinas Valley.

Without more storage facilities in California, we will continue to see this cycle of boom or bust in water supplies. California voters need to recognize that water supplies are not infinite and we must develop our water resources to manage the natural cycles of rainfall averages. When it comes to passing a water bond in the coming year, Californians should support building more surface storage facilities to provide water supplies for the drier years, or in the instance of our current weather cycle, multiple years of little rainfall.

From: Tim Quinn, ACWA

The Legislature wrapped up its work for 2013 in the early hours of Sept. 13, capping a legislative year that saw ACWA and its coalition partners play an effective role on legislation that could have significant impacts on its member agencies.

While ACWA spent significant time and energy opposing a move to transfer the state's entire drinking water program to the State Water Resources Control Board (AB 145) and worked on many other bills, including California Environmental Quality Act reform, we also played a leadership role in advancing the dialog on the 2014 water bond.

There are now three distinct proposals on the table for serious discussion in 2014 and in the months before the Legislature convenes in January. 


From: Editorial Staff, Modesto Bee

Water does not stand still. It flows, it seeps and if stagnant for long, it evaporates.

The concerns about groundwater in Stanislaus County have not evaporated, but they have shifted significantly in the four years since county officials first asked their Agriculture Advisory Committee to draft an ordinance to prohibit selling groundwater, aka well water, outside the county.


From: Jeff Nicholson, Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Three quarters of an inch of rain fell in Marysville over the weekend, something that most walnut farmers will be happy to see, said Janine Hasey, the University of California Cooperative Extension's farm adviser.

Water Quality 

From: Mark Grossi, Fresno Beehive

There's big news for seven northern Tulare County communities that have waited years for healthy drinking water.

The California Department of Public Health has agreed to approve funding for a feasibility study on how to fix the problem.


From: Maven, Maven's Notebook

On September 19, the Department of Water Resources held a Delta regional forum as part of the update to the California Water Plan.  Part of the forum was dedicated to updates on some of the relevant planning processes currently underway involving the Delta. This post will cover the updates given for the Delta Regional Monitoring Program, the State Water Board's water diversion reporting, and DWR's Integrated Regional Water Management Strategic Plan and the Flood Futures Report.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Maven, Maven's Notebook

Infographic:  The "simple" story of the BDCP:  Can the BDCP be distilled down to one infographic? Apparently so.  The Southern California Water Committee has released an infographic titled "The Simple Story" of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.


From: Conor Shine, Las Vegas Sun  

Pat Mulroy, one of the most powerful executives in the state, said Monday she is going to retire as general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, where she has worked aggressively to ensure that Las Vegas doesn't go dry.

Mulroy, who became boss of the water authority when it was created in 1991, said she hasn't set a date and will prepare an "orderly transition."