Tuesday, April 15, 2014

News stories and links from April 15, 2014

Water Supply

From: Staff, Merced Sun-Star

Growers on the west side of the Valley got a little good news late last week: They're going to get more water than they had feared. That's not to say they're going to get all the water they need, far from it. But the specter of drought is lifting ever so slightly.

"The mood is better and hopeful," said Chris White, general manager of the Central California Irrigation District, which covers 145,000 acres from Crows Landing to Mendota.


From: Hudson Sangree, Modesto Bee

At two treatment plants in El Dorado Hills, millions of gallons of brown wastewater pour in every week, and millions of gallons of clean water pour out through purple pipes that irrigate the lawns of 4,000 homes. Proponents call it water recycling. Critics call it "toilet-to-tap." But as the drought has taken hold in California, opposition to the idea has been drying up, and recycled water is winning acceptance. It's expected to be a significant source for many Californians in years to come.

Two irrigation districts are arguing over which should get treated sewer water from Turlock. The city in January was closing in on a deal to sell some of its supply to the Del Puerto Water District, which serves farmers along Interstate 5 between Vernalis and Santa Nella. The sale is on hold while officials discuss a competing claim from the Turlock Irrigation District.

From: Hannah Furfaro, Fresno Bee

On her way to visit the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier on Monday, University of California President Janet Napolitano got a bird's eye view of California cropland and rivers dry from the drought -- a sight she hopes the universities can help fix through continued research and outreach.

Flying from Oakland to first see the Sacramento River and then the San Joaquin River, Napolitano did an aerial tour of California's heartland before making a stop to meet with her top agricultural advisers about a food security and sustainability initiative she's due to unveil this spring. The university leader was mum on the details, but said all 10 UC campuses -- and its research centers -- will be part of the plan.

Sacramento River

From: Jim Robbins, New York Times

The Central Valley was once one of North America's most productive wildlife habitats, a 450-mile-long expanse marbled with meandering streams and lush wetlands that provided an ideal stop for migratory shorebirds on their annual journeys from South America and Mexico to the Arctic and back.

Farmers and engineers have long since tamed the valley. Of the wetlands that existed before the valley was settled, about 95 percent are gone, and the number of migratory birds has declined drastically. But now an unusual alliance of conservationists, bird watchers and farmers have joined in an innovative plan to restore essential habitat for the migrating birds.

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