Friday, April 4, 2014

News articles and links from April 4, 2014


From: Ellen Hanak, et al, Blog

One of the few current bright spots on California's waterfront is that the drought seems to be spurring momentum to improve groundwater management in the state's rural areas.

Outside of a few dozen adjudicated basins and specially authorized groundwater management districts - located mostly in urbanized parts of Southern California and the Bay Area - local groundwater oversight remains largely voluntary and somewhat precarious.

Coalition response...Ellen Hanak is right, the regulation of groundwater is a complex issue and subsidiarity, or "cooperative federalism" may be a good approach to getting a handle on groundwater management. But while Hanak says the drought is "spurring momentum to improve groundwater management" it is important to understand why groundwater overdraft is a bigger problem today than it needs to be.

The 20th Century water projects that were built in large part to offset groundwater overdraft can't be relied upon to continue to serve that purpose. Environmental policies that reduced surface water deliveries to farms, homes and businesses caused many people to return to groundwater to keep their businesses viable. Part of the solution is to properly manage environmental water resources so we get a measurable return on our investment. Millions of acre-feet of water haven't fixed declining fish populations. It's way past time for environmental water management plans; similar to the ones required for urban and agricultural water suppliers.


From: J. Harry Jones, San Diego Union Tribune

The rising cost of water is forcing small avocado growers all over the North County to give up on their groves.

Just 10 years ago, there were nearly 30,000 acres of avocado trees growing in such places as Fallbrook, Valley Center, Bonsall and the San Pasqual and Pauma valleys.

Today that number has dwindled to between 18,000 and 22,000 acres, experts say, and the trend is expected to continue downward for the next couple years before stabilizing at around 15,000.

Water Supply

From: John Laird, San Diego Union Tribune

The thing about the drought that's interesting for the general public and even a lot of stakeholders, is they are two, three or four weeks behind the severity of this. You look at the benchmarks - a year ago January we had zero fires of any substance that Cal Fire had to deal with. This year it was 473. If you look at the snowpack, which is the water source for 25 million Californians, after it melts it flows, and (the) January measurement was 7 percent of what we needed. Right now, even with a few storms, we're back to where we were in 1977, which was (the worst drought on record).


From: Matt Weiser, Sacramento Bee

There's at least one immediate benefit from the most recent storms that swept through California: Wildlife officials will temporarily stop transporting hatchery salmon by truck, and instead release those fish at the hatcheries following usual practice.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that Coleman National Hatchery near Red Bluff will pause its trucking operation to take advantage of storm runoff in Battle Creek, which flows through the hatchery, and the Sacramento River. They will release the next batch of about 4.5 million young fall-run Chinook salmon at the hatchery instead, starting Friday.

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