Wednesday, July 16, 2014

News articles and links from July 16, 2014


From: Steve Mawhinney, Sacramento Bee

Re "Hefty overwatering fines would make it clear California is in a drought" (Editorials, July 14): Yes, everyone should do their part to reduce overall water consumption and eliminate wasteful watering habits. Not just during the drought but going forward.

So when do the folks of California see the end of gravity irrigation, flooding fields and orchards, planting water intensive crops and other wasteful practices? So why is it the users of only 20 percent of the water in the state are pounded and threatened with fines while the users of the remaining 80 percent continue their wasteful ways?

Coalition response... There are a few persistent myths that need to be dispelled:

First, California farmers don't use anywhere near 80% of California's water supply. According to the State's Department of Water Resources, only 41% of the state's water supply goes to growing food and fiber. 49% goes to environmental uses, while the rest goes to our state's cities and industry.

Second, farmers are suffering from cutbacks as well. They were the first to bear the brunt of surface water shortages and cuts, and the effects of those shortages are expected to be felt across rural communities for years to come. California's farmers have been forced to dip into the groundwater savings accounts in order to survive this year- it's far from clear they will be able to do the same again next year.  

California must find a way to come together to meet the challenges of this drought, and to prepare not only for possible future droughts, but the growing population we know is coming.


From: Staff, KSEE 24

One local food bank is holding a food drive through August 5th.

[A video report on the ongoing San Joaquin Valley food drive: "California Water Feeds Our Communities."]

From: Michael Doyle, McClatchy DC

California's dogged drought will cost the state's economy $2.2 billion and an estimated 17,100 jobs, but consumers will largely be spared higher prices, according to a major study released Tuesday.

The pain is not felt equally, experts at the University of California, Davis warn, and there could be more over the horizon as precious groundwater levels fall in what the study calls the "greatest water loss ever seen in California agriculture."

From: David Pierson, Los Angeles Times

California's agricultural industry is facing $1 billion in lost revenue this year from the state's worst drought in decades and could pay about $500 million for additional groundwater pumping, a new study said.

The UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences said in a report released Tuesday that the state's drought has reduced river water for Central Valley farms by roughly one-third their normal level, increasing the need for groundwater pumping. 

From: Jennifer Chaussee, Reuters 

California's drought is expected to cost the state an estimated $2.2 billion this year, along with a loss of more than 17,000 jobs, as farmers are forced to fallow some valuable crops, a report by scientists at the University of California in Davis showed on Tuesday.

The report stressed the need for local governments to better manage emergency water reserves, including using measurement tools to track the amount of groundwater that is used during dry years and a statewide system for transporting stored water to where it is needed.

From: Don Thompson, Associated Press

In one of the most drastic responses yet to California's drought, state regulators on Tuesday will consider fines up to $500 a day for people who waste water on landscaping, fountains, washing vehicles and other outdoor uses.

The rules would prohibit the watering of landscaping to the point that runoff spills onto sidewalks or streets. Hosing down sidewalks, driveways and other hard surfaces would be banned along with washing vehicles without a shut-off nozzle.

From: Staff, Associated Press

Researchers say farmers in pockets of California hardest hit by the drought could begin to see wells run dry next year.

The Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis, released the study Tuesday on the possible impact if the next two years remain dry in California. The study also says farmers will leave nearly 430,000 acres unplanted this year, costing California $2.2 billion.

From: Dennis Dimick, National Geographic

If droughts were hurricanes, people might pay more attention to them. Droughts can creep up on us with their prolonged absence of rain, and their effects often are seen as not much more than cracked ground in dry lake bottoms. Devastating storms can be sudden and meteorologically exciting, and they make great television. Droughts are deliberate-a relatively slow evolution in which it can be difficult to capture the devastation in any one moment.

From: Staff, Contra Costa Times

The drought's threat to California's finite supply of groundwater is highlighted in a UC Davis study released Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Among the major findings reported by the school's Center for Watershed Sciences:

-- The drought -- the third most severe on record -- is responsible for the greatest water loss ever seen in California agriculture, with river water for Central Valley farms reduced by roughly one-third.

From: Rick Elkins, Porterville Recorder

With the impacts of California's water crisis growing daily, a new study released Tuesday estimated the economic fallout from the three-year drought will top $2 billion to agriculture alone.

The report from the University of California, Davis, shows that California agriculture is weathering its worst drought in decades due to groundwater reserves, but taking water from the underground supply is not sustainable.

From: Aaron Orlowski, Orange County Register

On the same day state water regulators approved daily fines up to $500 for wasting water, scientists released a report saying the drought will put a $2.2 billion dent this year in California's economy.

The projected loss for 2014, according to a report by UC Davis, includes 17,100 jobs statewide. Much of the impact is in agricultural areas stretching from Northern California to San Bernardino County.

From: Ian Lovett, New York Times

With rainfall this year at historically low levels and reservoirs quickly dwindling, California officials on Tuesday approved the most drastic measures yet to reduce water consumption during the state's increasingly serious drought, including fines of up to $500 per day under some circumstances for watering a garden, washing a car or hosing down a sidewalk.

From: Don Thompson, Associated Press

Reservoirs are running dry, the Capitol's lawn has turned brown, and farmers have left hundreds of thousands of acres unplanted. Even so, many Californians aren't taking the drought seriously. State water regulators are trying to change that by imposing fines up to $500 a day for wasting water.

The State Water Resources Control Board acted Tuesday amid warnings that conditions could get worse if it doesn't rain this winter.

From: Michael Santos, Sacramento Bee

Re "Hefty fines would make clear state in severe drought" (Editorials, July 14): The editorial board's support of the draconian fine proposed by the elitist State Water Board comes as no surprise. Instead of going after the big users of the states water such as agriculture, which use over 85 percent of the state's water, you go after the small customer who can't defend themselves.

From: Annabelle Beecher, Peninsula Press

At Stanford University the fountains are not flowing. But in Central California, known as the "Food Basket of the World," water is also not flowing and farmers are digging deep in response. This year, California has received its lowest rainfall in recorded history. On January 17, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought emergency.

Here on "The Farm," springtime fountain hopping was a casualty of the drought. In the Central Valley, on real farms, livelihoods are threatened, fields are fallow and the ground is actually sinking.

From: J.N. Sbranti, Modesto Bee

The Oakdale Irrigation District hasn't raised its water rates in 30 years, and it was obvious Tuesday that OID's directors resent a state law requiring them to charge farmers more to irrigate. "All of this is getting forced on us," board Chairman Steve Webb repeatedly stated.

Virtually every other California irrigation district has complied with the Water Conservation Act of 2009, which requires farmers to pay for water based on how much they use.

Salton Sea

From: Antoine Abou-Diwan, Imperial Valley Press

An amendment to a federal spending bill could mean an additional $1 million for Salton Sea environmental efforts.

The funds, sought by U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert), are for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which is involved in a number of public health projects including the Red Hill Bay project.

Press Release

From: Staff, State Water Contractors

Across the state, many of California's local government, business, and agricultural organizations have joined the ongoing discussion about the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). Several leading labor organizations - including the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, the Southern California District Council of Laborers and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 12 - have also weighed in and sent letters to their elected officials expressing support for the project. 

From: Staff, ACWA

Gov. Jerry Brown on July 14 announced several reappointments to the California Water Commission as well as the new appointment of Armando Quintero, president of the Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors.

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