Wednesday, March 5, 2014

News articles and links from March 5, 2014

Water Supply 

From: John Holland, Modesto Bee

Farmers and their allies pleaded with state officials Tuesday for quick action on the drought emergency and long-term solutions to keep it from happening again. More than 200 people packed a University of California at Merced conference room for a meeting of Gov. Jerry Brown's Drought Task Force and the State Board of Food and Agriculture.

"Your decisions will have a long and lasting effect on the local, regional and state economy," said Aldo Sansoni, who grows almonds, tomatoes and other crops in Merced County.

From: Bill Dietrich, Fresno Bee

First off, let me say thank you to fellow farmer Joe Del Bosque and his family, who met with President Barack Obama during his visit to the San Joaquin Valley. What Joe, and others like him do, is at great sacrifice to their personal lives and families. Thank you, too, to all our water district (public agencies like San Luis Water District) staff and families who have made the survival of our operations a part of their daily lives. I am grateful for all you do.

The water delivery system in California was designed for one purpose: "To deliver water to arid lands of the West." The dreamers, planners and designers could never have imagined how successful it would be! We literally feed the world. The nation reaps tremendous economic benefits and safe, healthy food from the activity generated by this water system. This is good.

From: Jim Carlton, Wall Street Journal (Subscription required)

As the Golden State suffers through a three-year drought, residents of semiarid Southern California are mostly being asked to voluntarily conserve water. In typically wetter Northern California, residents are faced with mandatory rationing.

In the battle for water supplies in the state, where the south has traditionally been characterized as an endlessly thirsty drain on water from the north, this turnabout is the result of years of preparation and billions of dollars of infrastructure improvements.

From: Rob Parsons, Merced Sun-Star

Farmers drawing water from the Merced Irrigation District are considering a proposal to raise the amount of money they pay for water and the amount landowners pay per acre of land within the district to keep it afloat.

The MID board of directors voted unanimously Tuesday to send ballots to district farmers requesting a water rate increase that would take prices from $23.25 per acre-foot of water to $100.67 per acre-foot. An acre-foot is the amount of water it would take to cover an acre of land 1 foot deep, or about 325,900 gallons.

From: Alex Breitler,

Recent storms have boosted the amount of water flowing through the Delta, and San Joaquin Valley farmers expressed frustration today that more of that water isn't being sent their way, given that more than half a million acres are expected to be fallowed this year.

"As we speak this very moment there's 25,000 (cubic feet per second) flowing as outflow out to the ocean. At the same time, we're pumping 4,400 cfs," said Dan Nelson, head of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, at a drought meeting held at U.C. Merced today. "I ask you," Nelson said, addressing State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus, "is this the balance that you anticipated? Is this the balance that you're working for? I don't think so. We knew this storm was going to happen last week. Why didn't we prepare for it?"

From: Staff, KSEE 24

More water talks in the Valley as the Governor's Drought Task Force came to town.   State officials met with Valley farmers during a 'Q and A' session at UC Merced, to discuss the ongoing impacts of the drought, and to take ideas back to Sacramento.

It was standing room only inside the Governor's Drought Task Force meeting at UC Merced Tuesday. One by one, farmers and local leaders took the podium, while state officials sat back and listened. California Department of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross says, "It's heartbreaking to think about the harsh decisions they have to make."

Salton Sea

From: Raju Chebium, Desert Sun 

The Obama administration's fiscal 2015 budget request to Congress seeks a fraction of the $1 million that two local congressmen had sought for a Salton Sea restoration project.

President Barack Obama's spending wish list, unveiled Tuesday, seeks $200,000 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue studying issues with the Salton Sea, California's largest inland body of water.

Water Policy

From: Mark Lubell, U.C. Davis Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior

The recent California drought is a time machine. It represents a regularly recurring event in California's Mediterranean climate, which cycles back and forth between dry and wet years so frequently that a "normal" year is actually the exception. Hence, we have witnessed many droughts in the past, and we will see them again in the future. This prediction holds even if the models are wrong in forecasting that climate change will load the "climate dice" in favor of more frequent and longer duration droughts in the future. Of course most readers know this already-the recurring climate and hydrological patterns of California are big news headlines with nice info-graphics (and countless blogs, tweets, etc) in 2013-2014.


From: Staff, Modesto Bee

Jim DeMartini called the Stanislaus County Groundwater Advisory Committee a waste of time, and he might be right. With his departure, there's a better chance that won't be the case. If the committee is to succeed, it needs leaders who want to develop groundwater rules, regulations and permitting procedures that will create sustainability and equity for everyone who depends on groundwater - which is everyone in the county.

Supervisor Terry Withrow has replaced DeMartini and, with chairman Wayne Zipser, we think the committee can do good work. There are broad issues to consider (quickly) and details to be mastered.

From: Dennis Taylor, Salinas Californian

A major water study points to a number of methods to significantly reduce groundwater pumping and seawater intrusion in the area of the Pajaro River.

The river is the border between Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, but it is a meandering river and portions of it are in Monterey County at times.

From: Nela Lichtscheidl, KERO 23

The State Water Resources Control Board has detected high levels of nitrate in groundwater throughout California, and Kern County happens to be one of those areas affected. State officials tested several areas five times, and found that Tulare and Los Angeles counties have high concentrations of nitrate contaminating their groundwater - many agricultural communities even have them in their wells.

Now the Environmental Protections Agency says most the nitrate contamination in drinking water comes from the runoff left from fertilizer use and the sporadic leaking from septic tanks.


From: Staff, California Farm Water Coalition

CFWC will be hosting a regional meeting on March 20 in Fresno on the topic of groundwater.  Scheduled speakers include David Guy, executive director of the Northern California Water Association who will be discussing the future of groundwater management in the Sacramento Valley. A recent report by the Nature Conservancy implied that groundwater pumping has a measurable effect on surface waterways, such as the Sacramento River. Also speaking will be Bob Reeb of Reeb Government Affairs who will discuss current groundwater legislation underway in Sacramento. The meeting will be held from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at Fresno Irrigation District and includes lunch. Space is limited and preregistration is required.

Contact the CFWC office at (916) 391-5030 for more information.

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