From: Staff, San Francisco Chronicle
The test of any water policy is not if it works in the wet times but if it protects widely shared public values in the dry times.
So it is distressing to see Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., determined to toss out water management policies and protections, worked out over 20 years to balance the water needs of California cities, farms and the environment, in order to serve some interests at the expense of others.
Coalition response... It's important to remember that California's senators have a responsibility to represent the entire state and to pursue policies that improve the state for the greater good of all its citizens. California's extraordinary diversity in social values, economics and geography make this a challenging task in the best of times.
From: Senator Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco Chronicle
The May 21 Chronicle editorial "Sen. Feinstein's wrong response to the drought" suggests a water policy is successful "if it protects widely shared public values." That is true. But I would argue that a key part of "shared public values" is actually getting water where it needs to go. Balancing environmental principles with practical water solutions is the goal of my bill, the Emergency Drought Relief Act.
Unfortunately, the Chronicle editorial board repeatedly mischaracterizes this legislation. First and foremost, the bill specifically states that all existing laws and regulations must be followed, including biological opinions, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and other laws. In fact, when environmental groups came to my staff and said the bill did not cover court-approved biological opinions of both smelt and salmon, we promptly revised the bill text.
From: Bruce Kennedy, CBS News, Moneywatch
The severe and historic drought underway in California is expected to take a large financial bite out of the Golden State's agricultural sector -- and lead to thousands of jobs being cut. It's also projected to have additional impacts on the nation's food prices.
A new study by the University of California, Davis' Center for Watershed Sciences says the state's ongoing dry conditions will deal a "severe blow" to irrigated agriculture and farm communities in California's Central Valley -- one of the most productive agricultural regions on earth -- while costing the state around $1.7 billion.
From: Jonathan Kauffman, San Francisco Chronicle
With the summer solstice still a month off, it's still hard to get a full sense of how the drought is affecting the Bay Area's food supply. Dire warnings of wildfires and projections of large price increases are offset by relatively small changes in what we're spending at supermarkets.
A new study that came out of UC Davis yesterday starts to attach some numbers to the losses that Central Valley farmers are facing this year.
From: Michael Doyle, McClatchy DC
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's newly finished California water bill that's designed for quick Senate approval gratifies some farmers while alienating some fishermen, tribes and environmentalists.
The California Democrat is pushing for the revised 16-page bill to pass the Senate as soon as possible, perhaps by Friday, setting up a delicate round of deal-making with Republican-led House negotiators. Right now, though, this remains a machine with many moving parts.
From: Max Pringle, Capital Public Radio
Some California farmers may not be allowed to divert river water to irrigate their crops this summer. The restriction is part of new rules being considered this week by state water managers.
Some members of the Water Resources Control board say suspending water rights is an unavoidable temporary emergency measure caused by the drought.
From: Andrew Creasey, Marysville Appeal-Democrat
Fertilizer sales are down and seasonal jobs are being cut as local businesses adapt to crop reductions due to the drought. More than 100,000 acres of agricultural land will likely go fallow this summer due to cutbacks in the surface water supply, and fertilizer companies reported decreases in sales volume between 10 and 15 percent as farmers ready fields for planting.
"Absolutely, (the drought) impacted our business," said Blake Covert, market manager for the Sacramento region for Simplot Grower Solutions. "It's taxing everybody, not just us. Other businesses are off, from car dealers to restaurants to everybody in between."
From: Cara Hallam, Turlock Journal
An economic study conducted at University of California, Davis is estimating a $1.67 billion loss to agriculture and ag-related industries in the Central Valley due to the recent drought, resulting in a $3.4 billion hit to the state's economy, and a ripple effect throughout all segments of the state.
While the UC Davis study paints a bleak picture, the California Farm Water Coalition says it could have been worse."Researchers are estimating that 400,000 acres will remain unplanted but added that the numbers will be revised in an updated report expected next month," said the California Farm Water Coalition in a release. "Earlier surveys conducted by the Coalition doubled that amount of unplanted acreage but recent increases in water deliveries by state and federal projects, along with an increase in pumping from aquifers, have resulted in the lower number."
San Joaquin River
From: Dale Yurong, KFSN 30
The latest battle over water will soon be fought in a federal courtroom in Fresno. The Friant Water Authority, which represents growers on the Valley's east side, has filed a legal challenge to halt the release of water from Millerton Lake. The water being released from Friant Dam will be used by the Exchange Contractors on the Valley's west side, a group of growers with water rights dating back hundreds of years.
Friant Water Authority general manager Ron Jacobsma said the lawsuit seeks a restraining order against the US Bureau of Reclamation to stop the river flow.
"This is not against the Exchange Contractors."
From: Chris Clarke, KCET
A agency that represents 22 irrigation districts and other water providers in the San Joaquin Valley is asking a judge to block the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from releasing water to benefit other water users, including Central Valley wildlife refuges. The Friant Water Authority (FWA) filed suit in U.S. District Court in Fresno on Monday to seek an immediate halt to USBR's release of water from Friant Dam and Millerton Lake to a fellow water agency, the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors, and to nearby National Wildlife Refuges, claiming that the releases are a violation of state and federal water laws.
From: Mark Grossi, Fresno Bee
East San Joaquin Valley farmers, facing a zero water allocation this summer, are asking a judge to stop unprecedented water releases that started last week at Millerton Lake.
The Friant Water Authority, representing 15,000 east-side growers, says federal leaders are not following a long-established water-rights pecking order in releasing Millerton water, which would help save thousands of acres of east-side orchards.
From: Staff, Associated Press
A group of Central California farmers have asked a judge to halt the release of water from behind a dam east of Fresno.
The Fresno Bee reports (http://bit.ly/1oj0nBh) that a lawsuit filed this week by the Friant Water Authority, representing 15,000 East San Joaquin Valley farmers, seeks a temporary restraining order against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
From: David Pierson, Los Angeles Times
Climate change threatens to undermine not only how much food can be grown but also the quality of that food as altered weather patterns lead to a less desirable harvest, according to a new study. Crops grown by many of the nation's farmers have a lower nutritional content than they once did, according to the report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Research indicates that higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have reduced the protein content in wheat, for example. And the International Rice Research Institute has warned that the quality of rice available to consumers will decrease as temperatures rise, the report noted.