Monday, January 20, 2014

News articles and links from January 20, 2014


From: Stacy Finz, San Francisco Chronicle

Frank Imhof, a Sunol cattleman is checking the weather constantly. If he doesn't get rain soon, "lots of people are going to be out of a job," he says.

He's considering culling nearly 40 percent of his breeding herd and selling calves that are four to five months short of their market weight, because he doesn't have enough grass in his pastures to feed them.

Coalition response... The reality of the drought is that farmers and consumers are closely linked through California's water supply. When water supplies diminish, according to data from the University of California, the variety of fresh foods available at the store diminishes and prices climb. The Governor's recent drought declaration will help ease conditions to move water to areas that are hardest hit. A long term solution, such as new storage facilities to capture more water the next time it is wet will help prevent conditions like this from happening again.

From: George Skelton, Los Angeles Times

So it's official: We are in a serious drought. That means this: Next comes serious flooding. But we'll still be in a declared drought.

That's just the nature of California weather patterns - and water politics.

A drought proclamation, as issued by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, changes the political climate. It focuses public attention on the need for costly new waterworks.

Coalition Response... George Skelton is right, water problems in California are causing hardship throughout the state. The solution, however, is to invest in the kind of projects that will keep California safe and prosperous. Public funding for dams, which benefit the public enormously through flood control, shouldn't be capped at an arbitrary 10 percent. When you consider the lives and property damage that can be prevented with the right projects, dams are a sound investment against the flooding Skelton says will inevitably come. It is also important to understand that water flowing through the Delta to users in the southern half of the state is apportioned to them under rights issued by the State of California. No one is "robbing local farmers and fish and disfiguring one of California's most bucolic areas." The Delta was irreversibly changed 150 years ago to help produce food for a growing state. It continues to serve Californians with local food products and delivers water to fuel the state's trillion dollar economy.


From: Jay Lund, Sacramento Bee

The 2013 calendar year was the driest on record for much of California. There is almost no snow in the Sierra Nevada or Trinity Mountains, and the forecast for January is dry. We are currently in a drought, though with three months left of our normally wet season, it remains possible that 2014 will not become a drought year.

From: Peter Fimrite, Sacramento Bee

The American River looks to Jonas Minton very much like it did nearly four decades ago when he took a kayak out into what was then a trickling stream and scraped across the rocks on the bottom.

That year, 1977, was one of the driest in California history, a drought that inspired a water conservation movement, along with low-flow toilets and showerheads, water-saving washing machines and dishwashers, drip irrigation and recycled water.

From: Mike Wade, Sacramento Bee

Re "Drought is nature telling us to get serious on saving Delta" (Viewpoints, Jan. 16): We agree with David Hayes' viewpoint that California is in a drought, but to claim that the Endangered Species Act is not affecting this year's water supply is unbelievable. The ESA 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.

From: Cary Blake, Western Farm Press

Agriculture reacted positively to California Governor Edmund Brown's Drought State of Emergency announcement Jan. 17 amid water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history.

California's chief executive directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for extreme drought conditions.

From: K. Kaufmann, The Desert Sun

Following one of the driest years on record in California, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday declared a drought emergency that will enable the state to seek federal help.

The governor made the announcement in San Francisco, formally stating what many Californians already knew after three dry years.

But at a critical time when much of the West is dry and the Colorado River continues to provide less water than desired by consumers along its route, including the Coachella Valley, the declaration was long-awaited. And there's no immediate end to the drought in sight.

From: Staff, Riverside Press-Enterprise

Californians knew the state faced serious drought long before last week's official statement. But the governor's declaration of a drought emergency only added emphasis to the need for sensible precautions during a dry year. Residents need to step up conservation efforts, and legislators need to ensure a reliable supply of water for the state.

From: Staff, Modesto Bee

So the drought is official. The governor proclaimed it such Friday.

Gov. Jerry Brown did it in his usual pragmatic style, saying "We can't make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California's drought now threatens."

The first of those consequences, he noted, was "dramatically less water for our farms and communities," then he went on to call for voluntary conservation.

From: Kenneth Cannon, Bakersfield Californian

It's time to take some drastic action to remediate the drought in California. There is talk about taking the best farm land in the world out of production. That is foolish. If there is to be a shortage of water, let it be in the Los Angeles Basin.

From: Bettina Boxall & Anthony York, Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown officially declared a drought emergency in the state Friday, urging residents to cut water use by 20% and directing state agencies to take a range of steps to ease the effects of water shortages on agriculture, communities and fish and wildlife.

"We ought to be ready for a long, continued, persistent effort to restrain our water use," Brown said. He warned that Californians may be facing unprecedented dry conditions and need to become "more efficient and more elegant" in how they use natural resources.

From: Staff, KCRA 3

California is nearly as dry as it's ever been. High water marks rim half-full reservoirs. Cities are rationing water. Clerics are praying for rain. Ranchers are selling cattle, and farmers are fallowing fields.

From: Staff, KXTV 10

In what could become one of California's biggest crises in years, Gov. Jerry Brown has officially declared a statewide drought emergency - an action that sets the stage for some new state and federal efforts and should also focus the attention of Californians to potential water shortages ahead.

"All I can report to you is it's not raining today and it's not likely to rain for several weeks," said the governor in a news conference Friday morning in San Francisco.

From: Richard Morat, Sacramento Bee

Re "State of emergency declared in drought" (Page A1, Jan. 18): The declaration is an understatement of the serious situation for people, the economy and the natural resources. The drought only focuses on decades of failed water management. Damage already done to our rivers and estuarine aquatic resources is already massive. How far will we let it go?

From: Ellen Van Dyke, Sacramento Bee

Re "State of emergency declared in drought" (Page A1, Jan. 18): Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency regarding the drought, as did the U.S. Department of Agriculture to qualify the state for federal funds and some farmers for low-interest loans. But why is water conservation optional?

From: David Siders, Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown announced a state of emergency Friday that has been all but official for weeks: California is in a drought.

Brown urged Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent, saying "we're facing perhaps the worst drought that California has ever seen since records began being kept about 100 years ago."

Water Rally

From: Staff, KFSN 30

Hundreds of Valley residents held a huge rally at the state capitol on Thursday.

From: Staff, KSEE 24

About a thousand people from the Valley made their voices heard in Sacramento today. They took a bus-trip to the State Capitol and called for drought relief. They want a drought emergency declaration from the governor, which he's indicated he will do, soon. He also wants a water bond put on the ballot. Both to help deal with a lack of rain, and water for valley crops.

The need for water is something Westside growers experience daily. They need something to moisten their once fertile land and with no rain in sight, some are seriously concerned. "I'm sad. i'm disheartened to think at one time this was a very vibrant place," said Joel Allen, a local grower.

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