From: John McManus, Sacramento Bee
Today, California's commercial salmon season begins off our coast. From Santa Barbara to Fisherman's Wharf and beyond, commercial fishermen will soon be delivering one of nature's most healthy and delicious foods - California wild king salmon.
The king salmon caught off our coast are the best anywhere in the world, and markets all over the U.S. and beyond will bid for these fish. Here in California, thousands of workers will benefit from this fishery. In addition to boosting the economy, the health of our salmon runs also tells us about the health of Central Valley rivers where salmon spawn and rear.
Coalition response... Most Californians are experiencing the effects of the drought, including commercial fishermen who catch and sell salmon in markets around the world. Many farmers, you might say, are in the same boat. Water supply shortages are leading to an estimated 800,000 acres of idled farmland and an economic impact on California's economy of about $7.5 billion. That means the people who grow, process and ship food to the grocery store will face economic difficulties from lost jobs and reduced economic activity. It means that consumers could see fewer fresh food choices and higher prices at the grocery store.
Concerns over salmon being killed by export pumps are unfounded. As of April 17 less than 3 percent of the allowable number of salmon that could be impacted by the pumps have been lost. Trolling data show that they simply aren't in the vicinity of the pumps. The bigger problem, as most biologists agree, are predatory fish that feast on baby salmon as they make their way through the Delta to the ocean. The salmon mortality rate from predators is more than 90 percent.
In regard to his concerns about low reservoir levels and higher than normal water temperatures later this year, McManus should remember that without the reservoirs there would be no water this year in the system for fish or anyone else.
From: Staff, Western Farm Press
Ed Chambers, a Central Valley (California) citrus grower and farm manager of more than 700 acres, has never witnessed anything as catastrophic to the area's citrus industry as this year's 0 percent surface water allocation.
Chambers started farming in 1962 and has dedicated his life to the citrus industry. During the 1976-1977 drought, he was told to expect only 1 acre foot of surface water to service his crops.
From: Ian Schwartz, KOVR 13
For months farmers have only been able to guess how the drought would affect them, but this year's planting season brings bad news. Not only are the crops hit hard, other businesses are feeling the pain.
Each year the land is worked in the spring, being readied for the rice crop harvest in the fall. But this season, farmers are in uncharted waters.
From: Staff, CBS - LA
With summer approaching and California's snowpack measuring a fraction of normal, state officials said Thursday they will likely order farmers and other big water users to limit the amounts they take from rivers.
The State Water Resources Control Board projected the curtailment letters would be sent out later this month for users on 10 different rivers and their watersheds. It would mark the first such directive since 1977.
From: Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle
The heat is on, in more ways than one, as California staggers toward a third drought-plagued summer that will probably include rationing and lots of fighting about how the state should use its precious, dwindling supplies of water.
The snow levels in the Sierra were only 18 percent of average on Thursday, when the last of the season's once-a-month measurements was taken by the California Department of Water Resources. That's worse than last month, when the snowpack was 32 percent of normal for the date.
From: Brigid McCormack, Modesto Bee
As umbrellas popped open around California in recent months, you could almost feel the tension ease. Californians were becoming so desperate about the drought that they could be forgiven for allowing themselves to think things were on the upswing - that farmers would have enough water, communities could get drinking water, vital habitat would be provided for birds and other wildlife, and that as a bonus, maybe we'd save our ski season.
Those hopes were premature. Experts tell us our snowpack is still at less than 50 percent of normal and that our lakes, rivers and reservoirs are at the lowest levels in decades. The California Department of Water Resources Drought Operations Plan indicates this is going to be a painful summer.
From: Matt Weiser, Sacramento Bee
A new analysis of groundwater levels across California has found historically low water levels in thousands of wells in all areas of the state, another telltale of the drought's intensity.
The report by the California Department of Water Resources, released Wednesday, was ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown as part of his January emergency drought proclamation. It analyzes thousands of wells across the state, based on available data submitted by well drillers and owners.
From: Ian James, Desert Sun
With water tables plummeting in places from the wine country of Paso Robles to the almond orchards of the San Joaquin Valley, the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown could soon adopt measures to retool California's approach to groundwater.
Water agencies, experts and academics have offered a growing list of recommendations for policymakers in Sacramento, and one of the worst droughts in California history has given new urgency to the prescriptions for preventing more wells from running dry.
From: John Holland, Fresno Bee
California could produce its third-largest almond crop in history despite the severe drought this year, a federal agency reported Thursday.
The 1.95 billion-pound estimate, announced at the Modesto headquarters of the Almond Board of California, trails only the 2.03 billion pounds harvested in 2011 and the 2 billion last year.
From: Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle
Dozens of fishing boats dropped lines into calm waters along the California coast Thursday in hopes of bringing the year's first locally caught salmon to market by the weekend.
The state's celebrated commercial salmon season arrived Thursday morning amid high expectations. Preliminary fish counts this year have been relatively strong, and sport fishermen, whose season started last month, have reported decent catches so far.
From: Staff, ACWA News
On Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee voted to approve four bills that would bring about changes to the Endangered Species Act. The first bill, H.R. 4315, The 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act (Hastings R-WA), would require that data used by Federal Agencies for ESA listing decisions be made publicly available through the internet. The bill passed out of committee on a vote of 17-15.
The second bill, H.R. 4316, the Endangered Species Recovery Transparency Act (Lumis R-WY), would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide to both Congress and the Public information about: the funds expended in response to ESA lawsuits, the number of employees dedicated to litigation, and the attorneys fees associated in the course of litigation or settlement agreements. This bill passed out of committee on a vote of 26-16.