Thursday, June 12, 2014

News articles and links from June 12, 2014

Environmentalists urge conservation as Calif. lawmakers bicker over drought
From: Sharon Bernstein, Reuters

Drought-stricken California could increase its water supply by a third by reusing water that would otherwise go down the drain and saving storm runoff, environmentalists said on Tuesday amid wrangling over the state's response to dry conditions.
Report: Calif. could save plenty of water by recycling and conserving and storing rainwater runoff
From: Raju Chebium, Gannett Washington   

California could save more water than what its cities use in a year by ramping up its conservation and recycling programs and storing rain water instead of letting it run off into the Pacific Ocean, according to a report released Tuesday.

BLOG: Dueling Drought Strategies: Save More Water or Store More Water
From: Lauren Sommer, KQED

There's no doubt that in California, water is in short supply this year. How to avoid the same situation when the next drought descends is, on the other hand, a matter of debate. Two competing camps have emerged about how to boost California's water supplies during dry times: conserve more water or build more water storage.

Water-saving techniques should be taught to farmers, study urges
From: J.N. Sbranti, Modesto Bee
Farmers need to be more water efficient, and government funds should be used to help train them how, according to a new study.

The Coalition issued the following response to the above articles

Coalition response... Beware offers of easy money, rapid weight loss, and simple California water solutions. Environmental interest groups, like Pacific Institute and NRDC have sought for years to sell the public a message of vast waste, which when eliminated - will solve our every water woe. Unfortunately, this report is more of the same. Previous research on which agricultural water conservation potential in this report was soundly dismissed by leading agricultural researchers in 2009. There simply isn't 5 million acre-feet of water being wasted by the farmers growing our food and fiber.

Where appropriate, and as feasible, California's farmers are already investing in drip and precision irrigation, soil moisture monitoring, and irrigation scheduling. From 2003 through 2013 California farmers have invested about $3 billion upgrading the irrigation systems on almost 2.5 million acres.

Farmers are also intelligently selecting furrow irrigation, which, when coupled with laser leveling, adept irrigation practices, and careful monitoring has been proven by irrigation researchers to be highly efficient. Growers choose their irrigation methods based on the crop, the terrain, the geology, as well as economics. They manage that water to ensure optimal plant health, food and fiber productivity, as well as cost.

The water problems facing our state demand serious solutions. 

Report: State can conserve much more water
From: Seth Nidever, Hanford Sentinel
How do you solve California's water problem? Enhance water efficiency on the farm and in the home, capture more urban stormwater and reuse it, according to a report released Tuesday by the Bay Area-based Pacific Institute.

The potential is there to save up to 14 million additional acre-feet - more than the annual use of all California cities combined, according to the study, which was conducted jointly with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Coalition response... Leading irrigation researchers categorically refuted the conservation potentials research this report is based on. There simply isn't 5 million acre-feet of water being wasted by the farmers growing our food and fiber. California's farmers will continue investing in improving the efficiency of their irrigation, as they have long recognized the plant health and productivity benefits.

   Other News

Water Transfers

Environmental lawsuit filed to stop water transfer package
From: Heather Hacking, Chico Enterprise Record
A lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal District Court for the Eastern District of California against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, stating a proposed package of San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Authority transfers require a full environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Sending water from Northern California to other parts of the state has to stop, at least long enough for an environmental review of the long-term impacts, said Barbara Vlamis of Chico's AquAlliance.

Lawsuit targets Delta water shipments From: Alex Breitler, Stockton RecordEnvironmentalists sued Wednesday to block proposed water transfers from Northern California to the drought-plagued south San Joaquin Valley, arguing that the plan fails to protect the fragile Delta.

Under the federal government's plan, willing sellers in the north would allow water to flow down the Sacramento River into the Delta, where the giant export pumps near Tracy would deliver it to southland farms, where very little water is available this summer.

Water Supply   

Patterson Irrigation District to face water crisis by state's proposed curtailments
From: Brooke Borba, Patterson IrrigatorDrought conditions have reached a new plateau this year, urging the State Water Resources Control Board to consider declaring a state of emergency at their next board meeting on June 17 and 18. As a result, the State Water Board is considering curtailing senior water rights holders in Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley River such as Patterson Irrigation District, which could pose problems for over 700 local landowners and growers alike.  

Drought Outlook: 'Disastrous Consequences' If 2015 Is Dry
From: Craig Miller, KQEDThe assertion in a new report on California's long-term water woes likely comes as no surprise to most Californians: "A dry 2015 would have disastrous consequences for agencies and sectors up and down the state."

That ominous prediction is part of a "drought action report" released this week by the Association of California Water Agencies, whose members manage about 90 percent of Californians' water. The document attempts to identify key vulnerabilities to the state's water system and offers recommendations that its authors say could stave off the worst impacts of a protracted drought.

Water Rights   

Discussion on 100-year-old water rights delayed until July
From: J.N. Sbranti, Merced Sun-StarThe State Water Resources Control Board will push back its discussion of curtailing 100-year-old water rights to July 1. The board planned to bring up the controversial issue at its meeting next week, but apparently its staff needs more time to prepare.

"Our Division of Water Rights has had a number of responsibilities, including issuing curtailment letters to various watersheds, so has been very busy these past several weeks," Kathie Smith, a spokesperson for the board, explained Wednesday. "We just needed some more time to get language ready for the hearing, so it was rescheduled. These things happen."

San Joaquin River  
OPINION: Why I'm planning to kayak (and walk) America's 'most endangered' river
From: John Sutter, CNNIn California, water flows uphill toward money and power. That's a well-known maxim out here, especially in the Dust-Bowl-ready Central Valley -- that forgotten stretch of California that grows 40% of U.S. fruits, nuts and other table foods.

Meet a few people and it's easy to see why.

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