Monday, March 3, 2014

News articles and links from March 3, 2014


From: J.N. Sbranti, Modesto Bee

The cumulative impact of rapidly expanding almond orchards in eastern Stanislaus County soon may create a massive drain on the region's groundwater supply.

An estimated 4 million newly planted trees are expected to start consuming as much water as 480,000 people.

That's roughly the population of Sacramento, and more than twice the population of Modesto.

Coalition response... Reporter J.N. Sbranti mischaracterizes the cost farmers pay for water when she says, " residents get charged for the water they use, farmers pump groundwater for free..."

Water is a public resource in California. The only cost for any user is the cost of delivery. That's why it seems like city residents pay for it and farmers don't. City residents are paying all of the infrastructure costs to collect, treat and deliver water to their faucets 24 hours a day. Farmers also pay those costs but they have to be paid up front through the installation of wells, pumps, pipelines, expensive irrigation systems and energy. City residents pay those costs too but they're buried in an affordable monthly bill from their water provider. 

Water Supply

From: Natalie DiBlasio, USA Today 

A storm ravaging California is bringing some of the highest rainfall totals to the Los Angeles area in years, but meteorologists say "it's not going to be a drought-breaker."

Although the storm lingered Saturday before moving east, it is just the beginning of what the region needs to pull out of a major drought, says Michelle Mead, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

From: John Holland, Modesto Bee

Today, irrigation canals will start flowing toward Oakdale, Escalon and Ripon. In the weeks to come, the Modesto, Turlock and Merced areas will follow.

In most years, the canals are strong with water that gets the crops through the heat of summer, much like blood carrying oxygen to a marathon runner's muscles. This year, in many parts of the Northern San Joaquin Valley, they will struggle to the finish line.

From: Multiple, San Diego Union-Tribune

California's current drought-water crisis has been caused, as usual, by environmental zealots and liberal government who have stolen California's gold and our economy.Adding insult to injury, federal official announced that the agricultural Central Valley Project and California Water Project customers will receive no water allocations this year.

Indeed, the California Water Project and the Central Valley Project were created, paid for, and maintained by farmers and property owners to deliver Northern California water to the agricultural-rich Central Valley, and 25 million people in Southern California.

From: Al Medvitz, Sacramento Bee

Drought-stressed farmers on the west side of California's Central Valley have received a lot of congressional and presidential attention lately. Because we farm and ranch on the west side of the Valley, this attention means a lot to us, but not in the way one might think.

My wife's and my ranch is large, about 3,700 acres, and we raise wine grapes, alfalfa, sheep and lambs, and small grains - wheat and barley. Our farm, however, is not in the southern part of the Valley where farms are served by the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. Rather, we are on the western bank of the Sacramento River farther north but just south of Rio Vista. We farm in the region from where water is taken to transport south.

From: Norm Groot, Salinas Californian

Funny how drought intensifies the discussion on water use, who has it, who doesn't, and who thinks they can grab a new claim. In the past weeks since Gov. Jerry Brown's drought declaration, the intensity with which this word is used has come to a feverish pitch.

Everyone is looking at what can be done with the minimal supplies we have available. We are probably in a better position than the rest of the state, simply because we have our own supply system of storage and recharge. Thank you, farmers and ranchers, for having the foresight to build two big reservoirs, the Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project and the Salinas Valley Water Project. Without these facilities, paid for by the agricultural community, our water situation would be much more dire.

From: Todd Fitchette, Western Farm Press  

Commence firing! In a shot across the bow, several Sacramento River Settlement (SRS) contractors fired off a letter to David Murillo, regional director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation regarding the USBR's decision to provide SRS contractors with a 40 percent water allocation in the wake of California's epic drought.

Water Storage

From: Garth Stapley, Modesto Bee 

Tuolumne County, which is home to 10 dams and two rivers but has no rights to the water in them, wants a share of Don Pedro Reservoir's wealth.

The county's demand for fair play surfaced in a recent flurry of comments submitted by agencies on several levels, and environmentalists and whitewater rafting outfits, all with high-stakes interests in a new federal license for the large foothills lake relied on by millions for drinking and irrigation water, agribusiness, recreation and electricity.

From: Staff, KSEE 24

Congressman Jim Costa is introducing legislation to dramatically increase California's ability to store water.

His plan involves expanding existing water storage sites at San Luis, Shasta and Temperance Flat. A recently passed plan in the House doesn't allocate federal funds for storage.
That's something Costa hopes to change.

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