Thursday, January 9, 2014

News articles and links from January 9, 2014

Water Supply

From: Staff, Modesto Bee

The governor is going to declare a drought emergency within the next three weeks. That's news, but it's not unexpected.

We just closed the book on the driest year in history. Merced, for instance, had only 1.92 inches of rain in 2013 - less than half of what fell in the previous record-setting dry year, 2007 (4.2 inches). Modesto didn't set a time record, but you have to go back 116 years to find a season so dry. Modesto Irrigation District showed we had 5.21 inches, which was only a little more than the 4.28 inches that fell in 1898. San Francisco, Los Angeles and the rain gauges at our biggest reservoir, Shasta Dam, all had similar results. Nearly a third of the state is reporting "extreme drought" and the snowpack is only 20 percent of normal for this time of year.

Coalition response... There are other things that can be done to alleviate the effects of drought. Strict water supply cuts a year ago prevented water managers from storing more than 800,000 acre-feet of water in San Luis Reservoir, west of Los Banos. Instead, that water went out to the ocean with no measurable environmental benefit. Federal fishery agencies have the discretion to allow a more realistic amount of pumping of water that flows through the Delta. Last year's lost water could have irrigated 200,000 to 400,000 acres of farmland or served the annual water supply needs of more than 4 million people. Storing water when we have it is the key to having water during dry years like this.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Rosemary Hartman, Contra Costa Times

Northern, Central and Southern California have plenty of water. We have the Pacific Ocean! It is salty, but we can build desalination plants and create drinking water, as Israel and other countries do.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is rolling out new plant technology with cheaper and stronger filtering membranes. Desalting plants are expensive, but tunnels cost even more. North, central and south state area can build plants. Stealing water from rivers and marshlands harms fisheries and habitats and deprives farmers of water for food crops. Remember the "Peripheral Canal?" We stopped it. Now we must stop the "Peripheral Tunnels."

Coalition response... It is important to mention that the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan, (BDCP) which Ms. Hartman has mischaracterized as the "peripheral tunnels" is in fact an entirely different proposal than the unpopular Peripheral Canal. The BDCP is an effort to restore the delta ecosystem by restoring more than 100,000 acres of the delta estuary, while ensuring reliable water supplies for the people and farms of California. A comparison between the Peripheral Canal and the BDCP project is available at

Ms. Hartman makes an impassioned case for desalination, and in some cases it is viable to do so. After 12 years of planning and six years of permitting, construction is one quarter complete on the $734 million Carslsbad Desalination plant. When complete in 2016, it is anticipated the Carlsbad plant will provide up to 7% of the San Diego region's current demand, or approximately 18.2 billion gallons annually. It's important for California to keep an open mind and be proactive about looking for ways to find water supplies that can not only balance the needs of our current population, but meet the projected needs of future generations.

Water Supply 

From: Jeff Shields, Modesto Bee  

It's official, 2013 was the driest year on record in California.

The driest year in modern memory was 1976-77. That year, the Stanislaus River watershed had just 6.24 inches of rain from July 1 through Dec. 31. Last year was worse, with only 4.30 inches. We are starting 2014 at an astounding 31 percent below the driest year on record.

Forecasts predict January will have only 22 percent of the average rainfall. February is forecast to be only 45 percent of average and March is put at 65 percent. If the heavens open and give us the average precipitation from now through July, we'd still be 25 percent below normal for the year. And we're not alone.


From: Staff, California Irrigation Institute

What is the future of the water-energy relationship? Can a balance on water use efficiency and energy use be found? Come engage with other water and power professionals as we explore the future of water and energy efficiency at the 52nd Annual California Irrigation Institute Conference! 

A special discount is available to Subscribers of News Line!  Use Discount Code: CFWC2014 for a $25.00 discount off your registration at

Thursday & Friday, Jan. 23-24, 2014
Sacramento Arden West Hilton
2200 Harvard Street, Sacramento

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