Wednesday, May 14, 2014

News articles and links from May 14, 2014

Water Supply

From: Staff, Associated Press

Officials said Tuesday that, for the first time in decades, they plan to tap water stored behind a dam east of Fresno, as they try to help California farmers through the ongoing drought.

Pablo Arroyave of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said in a conference call with reporters that low water levels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have forced officials to turn to Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River. The dam forms the Millerton Lake reservoir.

From: Staff, Porterville Recorder

It is looking more certain that growers on the east side of the Valley, including those in eastern Tulare County, will get no water out of Millerton Lake.On Tuesday, officials said that, for the first time ever, they plan to tap water stored behind a dam east of Fresno for west side growers and that no water will be sent down the Friant Kern Canal.

"They has just basically said we don't have an obligation to meet their contracts on the east side," said an angry Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual. He said the lack of water threatens 50,000 acres of citrus in Fresno, Tulare and Kern counties. Of that, roughly 7,000 acres in the Terra Bella area are at high risk because they do not have the ability to pump water from the underground. It is unknown how many thousands of acres of other crops will be impacted on the east side.

From: Tim Hearden, Capital Press

Federal officials boosted water allocations for farms and wildlife along the San Joaquin River, but little relief appears headed to the state's beleaguered citrus belt. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials announced May 13 that exchange contractors along the river will get 529,000 acre-feet of water this year - about 65 percent of their normal allocation. They had been slated to receive 40 percent.

Some high-priority wildlife refuges in the region will see a similar boost. To accomplish the increases, Reclamation will begin releasing water from Friant Dam near Fresno as well as from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.


From: Staff, KSEE 24

Thousands of people impacted by the drought received some much needed relief in Firebaugh.  Thanks in part to the Community Food Bank, as well as the state's drought relief package, struggling Valley families will now have food on their tables.  Part of the state drought relief included food and funding for local food banks, and people who would normally be working, instead lined up to feed their families.

The lines were long in Firebaugh Tuesday; the longest they've ever been as the ongoing drought leaves thousands without work and food.

From: Staff, ACWA News Blog

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday released his revised budget proposal - a $156.2 billion spending plan that provides an additional $142 million for drought-related expenditures such as increased fire protection, enhanced salmon monitoring and more funding for the Save Our Water campaign.

Brown's budget replaces his $154.9 billion 2014-15 budget plan released in January. The new proposal reflects an increase in projected revenues and significantly bolsters spending on Medi-Cal.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan 

From: John Howard, Capitol Weekly

Gov. Jerry Brown delivered an impassioned defense of his ambitious plan to drill huge tunnels through the delta east of San Francisco to move more northern water south, saying California's economic well-being depended on it.

Brown said during a state budget briefing that the huge public works project - easily, the largest in the nation's history - "is an economic necessity that I've laid out, not because I want a legacy but because it appears absolutely imperative for the economic well-being of the people of California into the future."

Water Transfers

From: Garth Stapley, Modesto Bee 

On split votes Tuesday, the Modesto Irrigation District board made it easier on several fronts for farmers to buy and sell water locally. But participants still might have to provide some private well information.

MID management backed off considerably from stringent transfer rules proposed three weeks ago, and the board majority on Tuesday made another huge concession by erasing this week's application deadline. Rather than pinpointing by Thursday how much water would be transferred in individual deals between farmers for the entire season, farmers can submit staggered requests by deadlines of June 1, July 1 and Aug. 1.

Farming News

From: Pam Shallock, Bakersfield Californian

Beth Brookhart Pandol ("Tired rhetoric undermines hard work of Central Valley growers," May 12) reminded me of an agriculture seminar for teachers years ago. What an eye-opener it was.

Less than 2 percent of our population grow the food we eat and export to feed our world. California can compete with nations when it comes to food production. The highlight of that week was spending a morning with a farmer, shadowing what he did in a normal morning. While I have to know about children and education, they have to know about biology, chemistry, physics, labor relations and laws, finances, economic trends, markets, mechanical engineering, meteorology, product development, politics, animal husbandry, pest control, technology and water. Each season, farmers take a risk. They may see a financial benefit at the end of the harvest or they might lose big.

From: Staff, KGO 7

The extreme heat wave is creating a dilemma for fruit and vegetable growers. The drought has put pressure on them to conserve water. A new water conservation project is now underway that's employing high-tech methods to find the best balance to water plants but not hurt the quality.

Sherrie's Farm in Gilroy, like many in South Santa Clara County, has switched to drip irrigation to save water. But growers now have a new tool to add to intuition and years of experience to know when to adjust water usage.

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