Thursday, January 16, 2014

News articles and links from January 16, 2014

Water Supply

From: Howard Weaver, Sacramento Bee

Re "California drought will test Jerry Brown" (Page A1, Jan. 12): I've only lived in California about 20 years, so I may be missing the logic in our water decisions. I read that Sacramento and the Central Valley will be rationing water, but Los Angeles won't. It seems that LA will be fine for a couple of years, but we're supposed to let things here dry out while we spend billions of dollars, disrupt ecosystems and tunnel through earthquake country to keep them wet. This must make sense somehow, but I don't see it yet.

Coalition response...   California water managers seek not only to balance water supply and use across geography, but across time as well. Suppliers in southern California have invested billions in local storage to stabilize these uncertain supplies. Filling reservoirs during periods of plenty and then retaining that water for use during dry seasons is a prudent response to the challenges of California's precipitation patterns.  As recently as last year, we lost an opportunity to store 815,000 acre-feet of water to help the state through this dry period because that water was discharged to the ocean with no measurable ecological benefits. Water we could certainly have used this year. 

From: David Hayes, Sacramento Bee

The governor will soon make it official: California is experiencing a drought.

Calendar year 2013 sported the lowest rainfall in California's recorded history, and the early weeks of the "rainy" season have brought little or no rain to much of the state. It looks like many farmers will be forgoing spring plantings, and cities are wondering how long their water supplies will hold out. If another year goes by with little rain, reservoirs will be tapped out and the state will face an even more severe crisis.

Coalition response... We agree with Mr. Hayes that California is in a drought, but to claim that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is not affecting this year's water supply is unbelievable. It was the ESA that just one year ago stopped the export of 815,000 acre-feet of water that ultimately went out to the ocean with no measurable environmental benefit. That water could be used today to help urban communities and farmers cope with this year's actual drought.

Congress may not be able to make it rain but it certainly has the power, and has used it freely, to govern how water supplies are allowed to be managed for people and the environment.


From: Staff, Western Farm Press (Subscription required)

Nearly half of California's 58 counties qualify for federal drought disaster assistance by the U.S. Department of Agriculture On the list of 27 counties eligible for low-interest emergency loans include all 11 counties in California's agriculturally-rich San Joaquin Valley. This is significant because eight of those counties are among America's 10-top Ag-producing counties.

From: Lemor Abrams,

The Valley's water crisis was front and center Wednesday.

Elementary School Students, growers, and political leaders spoke up ahead of a water rally in Sacramento expected to draw thousands.

From: Staff, KGET-TV

A statewide drought declaration may happen sooner rather than later. Kern County Water Agency officials said Wednesday they expect word from the governor by the end of this week.

Officials said the declaration will do some good. They said Kern County could get more water from the California Aqueduct, a source that supplies three cities and hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland in the county. But it won't make it rain, which is the only thing that will save the state from drought.

Water Supply

From: Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times

Officials of the small Mendocino County town of Willits looked at their two municipal reservoirs last week, did some calculating and realized they had enough water to last only 100 days. It was time to adopt the toughest rationing measures they could.

The 5,000 residents of this former lumber town on the edge of redwood country are now on a crash water diet. A family of four isn't supposed to use more than 150 gallons a day. Outdoor watering, car washing and hosing down pavement are banned. Businesses have been ordered to cut water use 35%.

"The more we looked at the data, the more we realized the situation is bleak," Willits City Manager Adrienne Moore said.

From: John Holland, Modesto Bee

The City Council is holding off on selling treated wastewater to West Side farmers because the Turlock Irrigation District is interested in it, too.

The council this week agreed to a two-month delay of a proposed sale to the Del Puerto Water District, which covers about 45,000 acres along Interstate 5 between Vernalis and Santa Nella. The five-year deal would meet about 10 percent of the demand in the district, which has had drastic cuts in its supply from the federal Delta-Mendota Canal.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Lois Henry, Bakersfield Californian

Gov. Jerry Brown and his administration put on a full-court press this week on Brown's plan to fix California's water woes. Brown himself visited several valley cities. His plan, known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), went on its own valley tour complete with an entourage of staffers to answer questions. And Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency John Laird made a string of calls to members of the media.

Whether BDCP improves water supplies in Kern County, where most of our west-side farming is dependant on water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta, depends on how you look at the situation, Laird told The Californian Wednesday. Without the plan, "... the delta will decline and water exports from the delta will continue to decline," he said.

Water Bond 

From: Laurel Rosenhall, Sacramento Bee Blog

With California into a third year of dry weather and several cities imposing restrictions on water use, the time has come for state leaders to "seriously consider" putting another water bond on the ballot, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said today.

"I think what's going on now creates an urgency to seriously consider putting a bond on the ballot in 2014, and not later," Steinberg said.

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