Monday, June 30, 2014

News articles and links from June 30, 2014

Water Bond 

From: Staff, Sacramento Bee

Californians must seize the opportunity provided by the worst drought in 30 years to improve the system for delivering water to the state's 38 million residents. With rainfall and snowpack half of normal, lawns are going brown, farmers are getting a fraction of their allocations and food prices are rising.

We're told to cut water use by 20 percent, while people in the foothills town of Outingdale are rationed to 68 gallons of water per person per day. That's a third of what the average Californian uses. It also could be a harbinger, especially if forecasts prove true that this will be a hotter-than-normal summer.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Staff, Associated Press

The California Supreme Court is set to decide if the state must buy thousands of acres of private property to perform preliminary tests for two massive water tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The dispute stems from Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal, which would send river water around the delta system to farms and communities in Central and Southern California.

From: Denny Walsh, Sacramento Bee

The California Supreme Court has agreed to decide an epic battle over whether the state must condemn and acquire parcels on tens of thousands of acres of private property to conduct preliminary testing for Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to construct two large water-conveyance tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Water Supply

From: Staff, New York Times

With water increasingly scarce in the drought-ravaged American West, many states could face drastic rationing without rain. Even with more sustainable practices, the future of water in the West is not secure. Population growth, conflicting demands for resources, and the unpredictable nature of a changing climate will all exacerbate the crisis of an already parched landscape.

What are the best ways to share the water? And how can we ensure it lasts for the foreseeable future?

From: Dennis Taylor, Salinas Californian

If the Salinas Valley moves into a fourth year of drought, issues surrounding water are likely to get very, very complicated, an attorney explained to growers and students Thursday at an agricultural technology "clinic" in Greenfield.

Much to the likely chagrin of growers in the valley, limited water supplies will need to be shared with cities and, based on a new court ruling, the environment, said Aaron Johnson, an attorney with the law firm of L+G LLP in Salinas.


From: Sasha Khokha, NPR

Steve Arthur practically lives out of his truck these days. He runs one of Fresno's busiest well-drilling companies, and hustles up and down the highway to check on drilling rigs that run 24 hours a day. "It's officially getting crazy," Arthur says. "We go and we go but it just seems like we can't go fast enough."

Drilling in California isn't just for oil and gas - it's for water. And during this severe drought, farmers and ranchers are relying heavily on pumping groundwater. Counties in the farm-rich Central Valley are issuing record numbers of permits for new wells. But the drilling frenzy could threaten the state's shrinking underground aquifers.

From: J.N. Sbranti, Modesto Bee

Stanislaus County farmers have been granted permission to drill hundreds of new agricultural wells this year, while an increasing number of domestic water wells go dry, a review of permit records shows.

A record-breaking 299 new water well drilling permits were issued in the first six months of 2014. That's nearly as many as were issued during all of 2013, which itself was a banner year for drilling.

Farming News 

From: Staff, Porterville Recorder

Irrigated farmland decreased in California by about 263 square miles from 2008-2010, according to the latest land-use change data from the Department of Conservation (DOC). Although more than 102,000 acres of the highest-quality agricultural soil, known as prime farmland, were included in that decrease, the California Farmland Conversion Report also noted that the amount of urbanization in the state was a record low.

"Urban land increased by 44,504 acres. This was the lowest urbanization rate recorded since our first such report and likely reflected the impact of the recent economic recession," DOC Director Mark Nechodom said. "More than urbanization, long-term land idling was the biggest factor in the decrease of irrigated farmland."

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