Tuesday, March 11, 2014

News articles and links from March 11, 2014


From: Joel Kotkin, Forbes.com

As all the Californians who celebrated the deluge of rain that fell the week before last know, it did not do much to ameliorate the state's deep drought. We are likely to enter our traditionally dry spring, summer and fall in a crisis likely to exacerbate the ever greater estrangement between the state's squabbling regions and classes.

There are two prevailing views about how to deal with the drought. Farming interests in the Central Valley want the state to fund construction of additional water storage capacity so that the 700,000 acres of some of world's richest farmland now fallowed by steep water cutbacks can be put back into production.

Coalition response... According to the Department of Water Resources California farms use 41 percent of the state's dedicated water supply, not the perpetually misstated 75 percent. Almost half goes to dedicated environmental purposes but rarely does anyone acknowledge the laws and regulations that purposefully set aside water for the environment.

California is also a leading innovator in irrigation technology and techniques. Between 1967 and 2007 California farmers have almost doubled their production on 14 percent LESS water. An investment of almost $3 billion upgrading irrigation systems to high efficiency drip and micro sprinklers on more than 2.4 million acres helps keep California farms competitive in a world market. California-grown products are cheaper, fresher and safer for local consumers than they are anywhere else and that means more of our money can do other things in the economy than just go to put food on the table.

Water Supply

From: Staff, Westside Connect

Farmers in the Central California Irrigation District received noticed over the weekend that a 2014 water allocation already at historic lows is in jeopardy of further cuts.
Chris White, the district's general manager, said an order by the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) staff could effectively slash CCID's water allocation for 2014 to 5-15 percent of normal. The district had previously planned for a record-low 50 percent allocation.

"The (SWRCB) staff has formulated a new operations plan for 2014 with the stated purpose of trying to keep enough water in reservoirs to deliver water to municipal health and safety agencies through 2015 even if extremely dry conditions persist," White commented Monday. "It would reduce exchange contractors (such as CCID) to what we estimate at 5 percent to 15 percent. That would be devastating. What do you grow on a 5 percent allocation?".


From: Laura Anthony, KGO-TV

We've had some rain recently, but not enough and now the Contra Costa Water District says the salinity in the Delta is much higher than it should be and that has plenty of planners releasing much more water right now than they would like to.

The Antioch Marina is normally the location where the salt water from the ocean meets the fresh water from the Sierra, but this year that line is pushed much farther east and the Contra Costa Water District says that has far reaching implications.


From: Tim Johnson, NCWA Blog

The full extent of the drought's impact on the number of acres of rice planted this year is unknowable at this time. There are simply too many factors left to play out before our last fields are planted for anyone to know the final outcome.

The things that rice farmers are looking at include: how much surface water is available; can I pump groundwater; are prices going to be enough to offset increased pumping costs? Finally, will it rain more between now and the middle of May? (We certainly hope so!)

From: Jason Kandel, KNBC-4

A timeline look at the key events of the California drought of 2014.


From: Matt Weiser, Sacramento Bee 

Starting next month, millions of young California salmon could be migrating to the ocean in tanker trucks instead of swimming downstream in the Sacramento River.

On Monday, state and federal wildlife officials announced a plan to move hatchery-raised salmon by truck in the event the state's ongoing drought makes the Sacramento River and its tributaries inhospitable for the fish. They fear the rivers could become too shallow and warm to sustain salmon trying to migrate to sea on their own.

From: Garth Stapley, Modesto Bee

While not curing a three-year drought, recent rains are allowing irrigation districts to delay the start of irrigation season in hopes of having a bit more water in the fall.

The Modesto Irrigation District board this morning will review a plan to begin delivering water March 30, three weeks later than initially thought. The Oakdale Irrigation District likely will postpone its season's start to Monday, and the South San Joaquin Irrigation District board today will consider doing the same.

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