Tuesday, May 13, 2014

News articles and links from May 13, 2014


From: Mike Dunbar, Merced Sun-Star

Here's a best-case scenario:

In the name of helping endangered fish, the state takes 40 percent of the water flowing down the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers and sends it to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, leaving a third less for irrigation. Farmers start pumping more groundwater for their trees and vines. After a couple of droughts, there isn't enough groundwater left, and the trees and vines begin dying. Everyone loses. Meanwhile, south valley farmers get guaranteed water deliveries from the new gigantic tunnels near Sacramento. With this reliable supply, their trees and vines flourish; their land prices rise and they make huge profits when there's no competition from nut farmers to the north.

Coalition response... Proposals by the State water Resources Control Board aren't about making water users whole in one part of the state at the expense of others. It's about the continual shift of developed water supplies from farms, homes and businesses to meet more recent environmental priorities.

Mike Dunbar's call for more storage is right on the money. His misunderstanding is that moving water under the Delta through tunnels would harm the Delta. In-depth research conducted to complete the environmental review documents show that is incorrect. The system is designed to move water at times of the year when it is abundant so we only move water in quantities that won't impact water users or the ecosystem. When it's dry, little or no water will be diverted.

Water Storage

From: Sarah Null, UC Davis: californiawaterblog.com

In California, we ask water managers to do the near-impossible task of managing rivers for both environmental and economic objectives, which are often at odds. Where we have repeatedly failed to stem or reverse environmental problems, environmental regulation can drive water management.

California's Bay Delta - a water source for 25 million people and about 3 million acres of farmland - is a prime example. No sooner did Gov. Jerry Brown declare a statewide drought emergency in January than enforcers of the Endangered Species Act ordered big cuts in Delta water exports to protect the delta smelt, a native species on the brink of extinction.

Coalition response... Sarah Null underestimates the value of dams and reservoirs for flood control, a primary reason many of them, including Pine Flat Dam, were built. Claiming in her piece, "California will face increased water scarcity with the anticipated warmer and drier climate," is at odds with every climate scientist that suggest future climate change will likely introduce more need to artificially store rainfall when it occurs. Warmer, wetter storms will actually increase wet runoff, making projects like Pine Flat and others even more valuable for capturing water supplies and diverting them to groundwater storage in the future.


From: Diana Aguilera, Valley Public Radio

Schools on the east side of Fresno County are already feeling the impact of California's ongoing drought. Education officials from the Kings Canyon Unified District say they have seen a significant drop in attendance this year.

Superintendent Juan Garza says families have been forced to relocate, taking their school aged children with them. Come August of next school year, there may be even less kids having fun on the playground.

From: Staff, KSEE 24 

The governor's drought task force visited Tulare on Monday. The group met with community leaders from all over the valley. It's the latest in a series of water meetings taking place throughout the state.

From: Rick Elkins, Porterville Recorder

The old saying "Every drop helps" could never be more true than this historic drought year and for citrus growers in the Terra Bella area, a few more drops may mean the difference between trees surviving or dying. This week, growers got a bit of good news from Sean Geivet, general manager of the Terra Bella Irrigation District.

From: Juan Villa, Visalia Times-Delta

Leaders of Gov. Jerry Brown's Drought Task Force visited Tulare Monday to speak with locals about their needs and concerns regarding the drought.

The closed meeting took place at the Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner's office with government officials, water managers, agricultural commissioners and local tribe leaders from Tulare, Fresno, Kings and Kern counties in attendance.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan 

From: Matt Weiser, Sacramento Bee

Construction planning for the giant water diversion tunnels proposed in the California Delta is about to be handed off to a new entity, one that gives a prominent role to the water diverters that will benefit from the project.

The California Department of Water Resources, which has led the project engineering so far, has agreed to start sharing that duty in a joint powers arrangement with the water agencies it serves, including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Kern County Water Agency.


From: Wayne Zipser, Modesto Bee 

Three years of ongoing drought conditions in California, and particularly in the Central Valley, have left surface-water reservoir supplies at record lows. In response, as there is nowhere else to turn during dry times, groundwater use has increased to make up for the lack of surface water to meet the needs of our cities and farms.

Groundwater has historically been used this way in California as the "dry-year bank account." This is nothing new.

From: Jay Jasperse, Santa Rosa Press Democrat

There is nothing more frightening for a landowner than turning on the tap and nothing comes out. Hardware problems are often the culprit. But what happens when the lack of water at the tap means that the well has run dry? In Sonoma County's third year of drought, this nightmare scenario seems a growing possibility to many residents and farmers.

Water Transfers

From: Garth Stapley, Modesto Bee

Farmers might be waiting to see what the Modesto Irrigation District board will do Tuesday before committing to water transfers. As of Monday, only three farmers had signed up to buy additional water freed up by others in a fixed-price program managed by the district, and 18 sellers and buyers submitted transfer requests in open-market deals handled among themselves in a second program.

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