Tuesday, April 1, 2014

News articles from April 1, 2014

Water Supply 

From: Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle

Snow surveyors are expected to tromp out into the Sierra powder Tuesday under a soft, steady patter of comforting precipitation, but the spring moisture is a cruel oasis in California's desert of drought, according to leading climate and weather gurus.

The pounding rain along the coast and fluffy snow in the mountains this week won't come close to solving the state's mounting water crisis, which has forced the state to turn off the spigot in many communities, a scenario that experts say is threatening farms, fish and homeowners.

Coalition response...The Pacific Institute and Natural Resources Defense Council have joined together in a tag team effort to ignore many of the facts about agricultural irrigation and practical on-farm water use.

Researchers at the Center for Irrigation Technology who actually study irrigation have reported recently that the potential for increased water use efficiency in agriculture is about 1 percent, or 300,000 acre-feet. If vast improvements in irrigation efficiency were possible we wouldn't be seeing almost 1 million acres of farmland idled this year due to water supply shortages. Gravity irrigation, when managed properly, is an efficient form of irrigation both in water use and energy conservation and is appropriate for many crops in California. The irresponsible rhetoric from  these two environmental organizations will lead to a disaster among California farmers while more and more water goes to serve environmental purposes with no measurable benefits.  

Water Storage 

From: Staff, Chico Enterprise-Record

On a warm spring day 13 years ago, three Enterprise-Record journalists took a tour of bucolic Antelope Valley, west of Maxwell, where top state water officials talked about building a reservoir. They said they were getting ready to start feasibility studies and get moving on the project.

Thirteen years later, on a warm springlike day, two of the same journalists went back again. Nothing had changed in the verdant valley, which blessedly seems to be about a century behind the rest of the world. Cattle still outnumbered people. And this time it wasn't top state water officials talking about building a reservoir, but two powerful federal officials. They said they would push for feasibility studies so they could get moving on the reservoir.

Coalition response... Claims that the tunnels proposed in the BDCP divert water that isn't available are simply untrue. The tunnels, which are part of a greater effort to improve water supply reliability and restore the Delta are intended to divert flows that would otherwise be captured at the south Delta pumps.  This water has been reliably available for decades. Creating a second place of diversion helps to improve the flexibility of the state's water management system, protecting endangered and threatened species like salmon and smelt while improving the water supply reliability to millions of Californians and thousands of California farmers who produce food and fiber with that water.  Environmental regulations and protocols are preventing the diversion of water that could be captured at no risk to threatened and endangered species.


From: Cannon Michael, Maven's Notebook

California is experiencing a drought.  It isn't the first and it won't be the last.  This year only briefly started on par with the last big drought of 1977.  Storms in February and March have pulled California out of that driest trajectory - see chart - and more storms are on the horizon.

Key reservoirs, such as Shasta, Folsom and Oroville in the northern Sierras are low as well as the San Luis Reservoir south of the Delta.  These are key components of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project.  Zero allocations have been made for the Federal, State and Friant Contractors - 4,000,000 acres of productive farmland has been allocated no surface water for 2014.  Looking back at the 1977 drought year, the Federal westside and Friant farmers all had 25% allocations, the State contractors had 40%.  So why are things so different now?  Why with the improving hydrology are we still seeing no improvements in allocation?

From: Staff, KGPE 47

The drought could have a big impact on valley air. According to the Valley Air Pollution Control District, idle farmland is creating a dust hazard and it could pollute the air. In Kings County alone, an estimated 100,000 acres of land will be left fallow. This is land farmers are choosing not to cultivate due to the lack of water. Normally, farmers use water to control dust in these fields but that's not an option. Instead, the Air Pollution Control District is recommending the use of a chemical alternative or nut shells to block the dust.

From: David Bienick, KCRA 3

Recent rains have kept lawns lush and caused reservoirs to rise in Northern California, but water officials warn the drought is still far from over, and shortages may still be coming.

"It looks pretty good. Looks really hopeful that will have enough water for our summer," said Steve Symkowick, of Orangevale, as he and his wife looked out over Folsom Lake on Monday afternoon.

Water Supply

From: Antoine Abou-Diwan, Imperial Valley Press

Water experts called for increased water conservation measures Monday as they discussed California's water supply. The situation is grim. California is in a severe drought, with every part of the state feeling some degree of water stress, said Peter Gleick, discussing the California Department of Water Resources April snow survey during a telephone news conference. He is the president of the Pacific Institute.

"Snowpack measurement on April 1 is often a key measure of where we are," said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute. "By any measures, our snowpack is low."

From: Dale Yurong, KFSN 30

On Tuesday the Department of Water Resources will take the state's final snowpack survey of the season. Unfortunately, our latest storm basically amounts to a drop in the bucket.

A miracle march never materialized in this our third straight drought year. Despite our recent storms the snowpack still looks bleak - a third of normal. The final snowpack survey of the season will give us an idea of how much water is available for the spring and summer.


From: Lester Snow, San Francisco Chronicle

Mother Nature's last-ditch effort to make a dent in the drought with last week's rain and snow won't make any real difference for California's water supply in 2014. The state will conduct its final measurement of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada today - an indicator of how much snow will melt and flow into our rivers, ultimately making its way to cities and farms throughout California. We don't need that measurement to know that the drought persists and water supplies remain scarce.

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