Wednesday, November 27, 2013

News articles and links from November 27, 2013

Water Supply 
California water woes hit hard in driest year on record
From: Sharon Bernstein, Reuters

To nurture his acres of pistachio trees, Tom Coleman has long relied on water from California's mountain-ringed reservoirs, fed by Sierra streams and water pumped from the massive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

But the driest year on record has left the reservoirs so depleted - and the delta so fragile - that state water officials say they may be able to provide just 5 percent of the water he and others were expecting for next year.

Coalition response... 
This article does a good job illustrating the challenges facing California during this dry year, but only touches on many of our long-standing water issues.  Our aging infrastructure is sorely in need of updating. Some of the levees protecting much of California's fresh water supply are 100 years old and at risk of failure during an earthquake. Environmental water use, which accounts for 48 percent of California's dedicated supply, currently has no accountability for efficiency standards as urban and agricultural water users do.

Fortunately, efforts are underway to update our water system so that the families and farmers who pay for it receive the water it was designed to deliver. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan will help California meet its water supply reliability needs while restoring the ecosystem.

The reality is that ensuring that water reaches California's families and farms is a challenge not limited to dry years.
San Joaquin River
From: Rene Henery, Fresno Bee

The SalmonFest on Nov. 9 marked more significant milestones on the path to a living San Joaquin River. The highlight for many festival-goers was adult Chinook salmon released to spawn below Friant Dam for the second consecutive year.

But other milestones were in some ways more important: A diverse slice of the local community gathered on the river's banks to celebrate steps toward restoration; the next generation of anglers enjoyed fly-casting lessons and bank fishing; and at least two generations who have never known California as the West Coast salmon hub it was historically witnessed the majestic fish for the first time.

Coalition response... It's nice to think that Mother Nature will take care of bringing life back to the San Joaquin River; that all we need to do is create unimpeded passage, add water and cobbles and voila, salmon! Unfortunately it's going to take a lot more than that and the rosy portrayal of supposed benefits won't be what Rene Henry of Friends of the River would have you believe.

Water transferred from farms to use for the restoration project will create an economic hit to the region if the lost water isn't replaced. Groundwater will only support a limited amount of farming so the region can expect widespread fallowing, not unlike what is currently happening on the Westside. Estimated annual costs due to water supply cuts exceed $260 million and more than 3,000 local jobs. Will returning salmon to the river replace that? Not likely.

Earth Log: U.S. Geological Survey raises quiet buzz about Calif. groundwater law
From: Mark Grossi, Fresno Bee

Federal scientists added another piece of evidence last week in the argument for regulating California's underground water - the San Joaquin Valley's famous sinking landscape is still dropping.

The U.S. Geological Survey study showed a 1,200-square-mile section of the west side in Madera, Fresno and Merced counties has dropped almost 2 feet in just two years.
Subsidence: Is the ground sinking?
From: Staff, KGET TV

One of the effects of a depleting water table is subsidence or the surface soil sinking as a result of water leaving the ground too quickly.

"We're creating a void in the ground where there's no water to support the earth," said Jerry Ezell, General Manager for the Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District. "Once the water is pulled out, the ground can sink." 
The Future of Water
From: Staff, KGET TV

Groundwater is a coveted resource here in the valley but this year that resource is depleting rapidly to some of the lowest levels ever. It's a drop that that could cost not only farmers but you, every time you use your faucet.

For Joey Cardamone, doing household chores like laundry isn't as simple as turning a handle anymore. 

Water Supply  
After drier than dry start, California water officials hopeful winter will have plentiful rain, snow
From: Sarah Rohrs, San Jose Mercury News 
From: Sarah Rohrs, Contra Costa Times

It's not even the end of November, but weather watchers are already calling this year one of the driest on record in California.

"We're really off to a dismal start," said National Weather Service Hydrologist Gary Barbato in the agency's Reno office.
Modesto, Turlock irrigation districts take key step toward new Don Pedro license
From: John Holland, Modesto Bee

A massive set of documents traveled across cyberspace Tuesday morning, laying out plans by the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts to continue using Don Pedro Reservoir.

The districts filed a draft application for a new license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees reservoirs that have hydropower plants.

The filing launches a new round of public debate over Don Pedro, mainly how much water should be released into the lower Tuolumne River to benefit salmon and other fish. Environmentalists would like to see much more than is provided under the current license, issued in 1966. Others note the continuing need for farm and domestic water and for electricity from the reservoir.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Subsidence Solutions

There has been a lot of attention in the media this week to the subject of groundwater overdraft and subsidence, or settling of the land when groundwater is pumped. While this is an extremely important issue for California, people should remember that not all overdraft is the same and “one size fits all” solutions are a mistake.

There has been a lot of attention in the media this week to the subject of groundwater overdraft and subsidence. While this is an important issue, people should remember that not all overdraft is the same and “one size fits all” solutions are a mistake.

Stanislaus County water officials have observed declining groundwater levels due to increased farmland development in the foothills east of Oakdale, Turlock and Modesto. Local leaders are working with the farming community to find common sense solutions that protect groundwater resources and preserve agriculture

Districts that were formed out of the original land holdings of historic figure Henry Miller near Los BaƱos are working with today’s landowners to shift to shallower pumping and replenishing groundwater with surplus flows every few years from the San Joaquin River.

On the Westside subsidence isn’t a new problem either. One of the consequences of federal Endangered Species Act pumping restrictions in the Delta is more groundwater pumping in the Valley. CVP south-of-Delta surface water deliveries have declined by 40, 60 and 90 percent in recent years. Reliable surface water deliveries will take pressure off of the need to pump groundwater, as they did in the past.

There is no shortage of advocates pushing for State-controlled groundwater pumping regulations. The “one size fits all” regulatory approach we usually see from Sacramento is unnecessary and further removes local decision makers from exercising their knowledge of local conditions to find local solutions that work for everyone.

*For more info, click here.

News articles and links from November 26, 2013


From: Felix Smith,

Re "Parts of Merced County are sinking" (Capitol and California, Nov 22): The U.S. Geological Survey got sucked in with the cries from Westlands Water District of regulatory drought.

Coalition response... Felix Smith needs to check the history books on the Central Valley Project (CVP), subsidence and the impacts from recent environmental regulations. The CVP was, indeed, built in part to resolve subsidence issues in the San Joaquin Valley. And the problem abated for many years until federal Endangered Species Act restrictions started cutting water supplies to farmers in the 1990s. Rather than walk away from their businesses they returned to groundwater while hoping science would pave the way for a more sensible approach to species management. So far that hasn't happened, despite study after study indicating that Delta exports aren't the problem facing endangered smelt and salmon.


From: Eddie Hughes, Fresno State News

With forecasts painting a sobering picture of the 2013-14 state water supply, the California Department of Water Resources and the Center for Irrigation Technology will conduct a drought preparedness workshop for Valley agriculture professionals.

The workshop, aimed at growers, irrigation managers, water district personnel, engineers and policy makers, will be held from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17 at Fresno State's Alice Peters Auditorium (room 191 in the Peters Business building).

Salton Sea

From: AP Staff, U-T San Diego

A recent state audit calls for a more thorough estimate of how much it will cost to alleviate expected clouds of dust and other hazards along the receding shores of the Salton Sea.

Water Supply

From: Staff, The Press-Enterprise

California needs water systems that are reliable even in dry years. The threat of another drought provides a clear reminder that the state remains far from that goal, however. Residents will need to boost conservation efforts, to make more efficient use of existing supplies. But legislators also need to safeguard the state's primary water system and boost water storage capacity.


From: Staff, The Record-Searchlight

Irrigators and the U.S. Department of Interior spent more than $200 million on the controversial project to dismantle the Red Bluff Diversion Dam in favor of a modern pumping station that fills the Tehama-Colusa Canal with water for farms without blocking passage of the Sacramento Rover's rare wild fish.

Monday, November 25, 2013

News articles and links from November 25, 2013

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Nick Di Croce, Stockton Record

We agree with San Joaquin Supervisor Ken Vogel (Nov. 16 op-ed piece) that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is the wrong solution for the Delta and California.

Our organization, the Environmental Water Caucus, has presented a plan to both the Delta Stewardship Council and BDCP that would: 
                Reduce exports and increase Delta outflows in order to improve Delta habitats and fisheries;
Coalition response... Nick DiCroce and the Environmental Water Caucus have a plan for the Delta. Unfortunately it isn't designed to address the actual problems facing the Delta ecosystem: unnatural flows, poor habitat quality and invasive species. Upgrading fish screens doesn't fix the dead-end for fish at the south end of the Delta where predators await their next meal. Increasing Delta outflow doesn't do anything except waste water because of the loss of habitat over the years. And simply strengthening levees doesn't improve the kind of shallow habitat needed for juvenile fish. Increasing groundwater storage isn't effective without more surface storage to regulate large flows before they make it to groundwater basins. And retiring what DiCroce deems "impaired farmland" will create more unemployment for the 30,000 people who live in the rural communities of San Joaquin, Mendota, Firebaugh and Huron that depend on farm jobs to put food on the table. Tragically, many of them now rely on community food banks to meet that need and the Environmental Water Caucus plan will only make it worse. 

Water Supply

From: Todd Fitchette, Western Farm Press

USDA Secretary says California has "social responsibility" to help feed growing world population. How does that happen without water?

Just as the State of California was readying growers for what they pretty much expected - announcement of a 5 percent water allocation for State Water Project users - the heavenly faucets began to open and it started to rain and snow on the Golden State.

Water Bond 

From: Lois Wolk, U-T San Diego

The Legislature will return to Sacramento in January and will immediately face a trio of questions about water.

Can California break the gridlock and move forward on investing in a sustainable water supply for our future?

Can legislators from every region of the state come together on an affordable plan that benefits everyone?


From: Staff, Modesto Bee

Tell your neighbor you're drilling a new well and you might start a fight.

Tell a farmer that he or she can't drill that well, and that fight is guaranteed.

Hundreds of high-capacity wells have been drilled (or are being planned) as many farmers rush to plant money trees (aka almonds and walnuts). With the prices of nuts continuously rising, it makes sense to many farmers to convert pasture and row crops into trees. Farming, after all, is a business - and the nut business is good.

From: Michael Fitzgerald, Stockton Record

The Valley's ground level sank almost 1 foot a year over the past few dry years, geologists announced last week, more than 1,200 square miles south of Merced.

The sinking - or subsidence - is minimal around Stockton. It is worst around a hamlet called El Nido (pop. 330, elevation 141 ft.). The poor guys who live there have to change their elevation sign every year.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Staff, San Jose Mercury News
From: Staff, Contra Costa Times

California is having the wrong debate about the future of one of its most valuable assets, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which produces water for much of the state and about half of Silicon Valley.

The battle for the better part of the last two years has been about how big a new conveyance system -- probably tunnels -- should be, how much it should cost, and who should foot the bill. The result has been a political fight of the worst kind, pitting Northern Californians against Southern Californians and agriculture interests against environmentalists in a battle royal. At its worst, this could be one of the biggest water grabs in state history. And for California, that's saying something.

From: Joel Brinkley,

While fights over water simmer around the world, the United States has its own share of arguments and debates - one of them right here in California. The state is depleting groundwater aquifers at a rapid rate. That's one reason for the controversial proposal to build a pair of tunnels on the east side of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to bring water south.

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.

JFK's Farm Water Legacy

As we reflect on the legacy of President John F. Kennedy it is natural to recall his appreciation for California and the times he visited the Golden State.

In a recent Fresno Bee article, journalist John Ellis described the visits Kennedy made to California both as a Massachusetts Senator and as the President of the United States. On numerous occasions while visiting our state Kennedy mentioned water and the need to provide resources to spur economic growth and prosperity for the nation. In the fall of 1959 while campaigning for the upcoming presidential election, Kennedy warned a Fresno audience of plans by the Soviet Union to outpace the United States in hydroelectric and agricultural production, evidence of their rising global influence. A few months later during a whistle-stop tour on his way to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, Kennedy lamented the losses raisin growers were experiencing due to inclement weather and emphasized his concern over the decline in agricultural income.

And on his final visit to California in August 1962, now President Kennedy participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for San Luis dam and reservoir in western Merced County. It was there that he made his most earnest statements on the need for new water supplies to irrigate the farmland in the Valley. During his speech, the original text of which can be seen, including his handwritten notes, in the archives of the JFK Presidential Library and Museum HERE, Kennedy talked about disagreement among the nation’s 180 million people.

But shortly thereafter the President commended Californians for cooperating with one another when he said, “…and yet in this case, one part of your state has been willing to help another part.” He continued, “Nothing could be more disastrous for this country than for the citizens of one part of the state to feel that everything they have is theirs, and it should not be shared with other citizens of this state, or people from the east to say, “There is no benefits to us in spending our money to make this valley green.”

Later Kennedy remarked, “This is a unique ceremony, because this partnership is at the highest level. The amounts of contribution of both (the State and federal government) is unique and special, and the benefits that will come from it are unique and special, and I think that those who took part in this and made it possible should feel the strongest sense of pride, because all those years when people in this state said it was impossible, and those who had water wanted to hug it and not make it available to all those who lived in dry areas.”

Today, the very land President Kennedy talked about turning green with bountiful food production rarely receives its full measure of water. Water supply cuts due to federal environmental regulations have achieved little environmental benefit and have left hard-working people without jobs, food lines to feed the hungry, and rural communities withering in economic ruin. San Luis Reservoir has been a jewel in the crown of California's water supply system. Proper fishery management and decision-making will allow the project Kennedy helped build continue to meet California's water supply, environmental and recreation needs far into the future. That is the right legacy for the leadership and vision that came to the Valley in 1962.

*to download a larger version of the poster, click here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

News articles and links from November 21, 2013

Water Supply

From: Howard Hardee, Chico News & Review 

Don't let the recent rains fool you-it's been a dry year in Butte County. Or, perhaps more accurately, it's been a dry decade.

Coalition response...San Joaquin Valley farmers have been aggressive during the past century in managing groundwater supplies. They stepped forward and supported the construction of the Central Valley Project (CVP) that delivered surface water to the region to reduce reliance on groundwater. This support required them to commit billions of dollars toward repaying the costs of constructing the dams, canals, maintenance and operation costs of the CVP.

Another example of improved water supply management is the $2.1 billion farmers have spent upgrading irrigation systems on 1.8 million acres of San Joaquin Valley farmland, including the installation of drip and micro-irrigation technology.  

Barbara Vlamis is concerned that the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its tunnels will "devastate" other regions' water supplies but there is nothing to support what she is saying. The BDCP is designed to provide reliable deliveries of water that people already have a right to use. And the amount that would be exported is on average the same that has been moved over the past 20 years.

From: Alex Breitler, Stockton Record

On what happened to be the wettest day of the year, state water officials announced Wednesday that some cities from the Bay Area to San Diego may receive just 5 percent of the water they have requested next year.

Coalition response...Bill Jennings continues to beat the drum with the same message that others need to cut back on water use in order to protect the Delta. This may be a "news flash" for him but others have already cut back. In fact, San Joaquin Valley farms have been cutting back for 20 years thanks to federal regulations intended to help fish that have been largely ineffective. How can Jennings, or anyone else for that matter, justify the same old path when it obviously isn't working? Is their priority helping fish or is it putting farmers out of business? If its fish you would think they would devote their energy to finding a solution that really works.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Richard Stapler, BDCP

As California has matured as a state, we continue to take well-conceived steps toward lessening our potential for harm from earthquakes. Updating building codes ensures our homes, offices, and places we shop stay structurally sound and that public safety is prioritized. Bridges are upgraded or replaced, hospitals reinforced, and our infrastructure is armored against catastrophic failure.

From: Staff, Bakersfield Californian

(A subscription may be required to read this article.)
California is currently waiting on the final environmental impact report on Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to move water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta via two tunnels.
Wednesday on "First Look with Scott Cox," Californian columnist Lois Henry talked about the potential problems this decision could have.

From: Andrew Creasey, Marysville Appeal-Democrat  

The need for more water storage and the assurance that water from North California isn't sent south were the main concerns voiced at a town hall about water issues Tuesday night in Yuba City.

Laird stressed the plan wouldn't change the amount of water allocated to various parts of the state - including the Central Valley, Southern California and the Delta. He said it would instead improve the conveyance of the water via two tunnels, which would allow agencies to better manage what water is already there to improve habitats and create a reliable supply for farmers.

From: Frank Mickadeit, Orange County Register

(A subscription may be required to read this article.)
I haven't written about the water industry much in my nine years as a columnist, and now I remember why.

With Gov. Jerry Brown starting to roll out his $25 billion proposal to radically alter the Sacramento Delta and send more water to Southern California, I figured that last month would be a good time to dip my toe in. I wrote a column that focused on an alternative vision, as articulated by some water-industry folks who attended a conference in Irvine.

Water Supply

From: Seth Nidever, Hanford Sentinel

The driest 10-month stretch in California history prompted state officials today to announce an initial 5 percent allocation for the State Water Project.

The project delivers Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta water to farms in western and southern Kings County, to other large tracts of San Joaquin Valley farmland and to urban residents in Southern California.

From: Michael Cabanatuan, SF Chronicle

As the first significant rain of the season fell on Northern California Wednesday, the state Department of Water Resources issued an ominous water supply estimate that makes it clear that much more precipitation is needed this winter.

From: Dale Yurong, KFSN-30 TV 

Overnight showers weren't enough to impact the state water supply. On Wednesday the Department of Water Resources announced just a 5% allocation for contractors in the State Water Project, which includes farmers in Kings and Kern counties.

From: Staff, Chico Enterprise-Record  

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced an initial allocation of five percent of requested deliveries to State Water Project (SWP) contractors in calendar year 2014, a DWR press release states.

From: Janet Zimmerman, Riverside Press-Enterprise

For only the second time, the state issued an early-season water delivery forecast of 5 percent of the amounts requested by agencies supplying much of Southern California.

From: Antoine Abou-Diwan, Imperial Valley Press 

Farmers continue to speak out against the Imperial Irrigation District's recently adopted water apportionment plan.

"The 2014 (equitable distribution plan) based on 50 percent history and 50 percent straight line will discriminate against those growers that have installed water conservation measures and have been conserving water," said El Centro farmer Paula McConnell Pangle, addressing the board Tuesday during public comments.


From: Dawn M. Henley, Oakdale Leader

The topic of groundwater brought a standing-room-only crowd to the Oakdale Irrigation District Board of Directors Nov. 19 regular meeting. OID Water Operations Manager Eric Thorburn presented on groundwater specific to the OID service area where he covered a basic overview of groundwater, its management in OID, and OID's future plans.


From: Amy Quinton, Capital Public Radio

Chase Hurley is general manager of the San Luis Canal Company in Dos Palos. He points to a small dam near the river in western Madera County. It's likely the most important structure for the irrigation company because it guides water from the river into its canal system.  

"That dam, and this canal are sinking roughly six inches a year," says Hurley."So when that happens the dams not going to be high enough to physically gravitational push that down the canal."