Thursday, July 24, 2014

News articles and links from July 24, 2014


From: Alison Vekshin, BusinessWeek 

Farmers in California's Central Valley, the world's most productive agricultural region, are paying as much as 10 times more for water than they did before the state's record drought cut supply.

Costs have soared to $1,100 per acre-foot from about $140 a year ago in the Fresno-based Westlands Water District, which represents 700 farms, said Gayle Holman, a spokeswoman. North of Sacramento, the Western Canal Water District is selling it for double the usual price: $500 per acre-foot, about 326,000 gallons (1.2 million liters).

From: Katharine Mieszkowski, Center for Investigative Reporting

California Gov. Jerry Brown has asked restaurants not to serve water unless diners ask for it. He's letting lawns at the state Capitol turn brown. Farmers in the Central Valley are getting just a trickle of the water they usually do. Conspicuous water wasters - commercial and residential - face fines of $500 a day.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Paul Rockwell, Contra Costa Times

Like the Florida Everglades, the Bay Delta watershed is a national treasure. Every Californian has a stake in the outcome of the fierce controversy over the re-engineering of our unique and precious estuary.

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is 40,000 pages long. To keep it simple, the $25 billion water-transfer project is based on a single assumption: that California's water-ecosystem crisis is caused by a lack -- a lack -- of engineering projects in the Delta watershed. As if the Delta needs more steel, more pumps, more cement (and more farmers dispossessed through eminent domain). The peripheral tunnels, the industrial heart of the project, do not replace, they actually augment hundreds of dams, aqueducts and pumps that already send water to corporate farms and cities south of the Delta.

Colorado River

From: Antoine Abou-Diwan, Imperial Valley Press

A deceptively simple question was raised at the Imperial Irrigation District's Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday.

If the IID has consumed slightly less than 50 percent of its annual Colorado River water entitlement so far this year, how is the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation projecting an annual over-consumption of nearly 38,000 acre-feet? That projection is especially troubling for IID officials and farmers because any amount of water that the district uses in excess of its entitlement needs to be repaid.

Water Bond 

From: Craig Miller, KQED Blog

Drought has moved to the top of the list in the latest survey of Californians' environmental worries. In a statewide poll conducted during the second week of July, more than a third of respondents (35 percent) cited water supply and drought as "the most important environmental issue facing California today." That more than doubled the second most popular response, which was air pollution.

It's the first time since the annual survey was launched in 2000 that Californians have cited water supply as their top concern, according to Mark Baldassare at the Public Policy Institute of California, which conducts the annual "Californians and Their Environment" poll. Even when asked the question in the drought year of 2009, only 18 percent pinpointed water supply as their biggest concern.

From: Staff, Associated Press

A slim majority of likely California voters support an $11.1 billion water bond slated for the November ballot, but public support would grow if the bond comes with a smaller price-tag, according to survey results released late Wednesday.

The Public Policy Institute of California poll comes as lawmakers are negotiating changes to a funding package for water projects that legislative leaders see as too large and full of pork-barrel spending to win voter approval.

From: Mark Walker, San Diego Union-Tribune  

Drought-conscious Californians say they support mandatory restrictions on water use and back a massive state bond to increase water supplies.

Those are among the key findings in a Public Policy Institute of California poll that comes as the San Diego County Water Authority is expected to recommend limiting outdoor watering throughout the county to reach an overall cutback in the region's usage of up to 20 percent.

Water Supply

From: Dennis Wyatt, Manteca Bulletin

A streak of sub-90 degree days has Public Works Director Mike Houghton concerned. He's the man responsible for overseeing Manteca's municipal water system. "My worry is the cooler weather will get people to thinking they don't have to conserve as much," Houghton said. "We are still in the middle of a severe drought."


From: Corey Pride, Merced Sun-Star

As California copes with one of the worst drought years in the state's history, Madera County officials are preparing to take steps to maintain local control of its water issues. Government officials are in the process of forming a Joint Powers Authority and reviewing whether there will be a moratorium on agricultural wells.

Johannes Hoevertsz, Madera County public works director, said varying county interests are being asked to form a JPA. "It's an effort to have local enforcement," Hoevertsz said.


From: Staff, U.C. Davis Center for Watershed Sciences  
A growing number of ecologists say we need to rethink how we go about "saving nature." We should not attempt to restore a wounded meadow, estuary or wetland to some legendary pristine state, they say. Instead, resource managers should accept that human footprints are everywhere and manage ecosystems for the species and functions we desire.

From: Jonathan Wood, Pacific Legal Foundation Blog

This morning, the Ninth Circuit denied a rehearing before the entire court, leaving March's panel decision in place. The denial sets the case up for a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. Longtime Liberty Blog readers will recall that PLF previously sought Supreme Court review of the case on our Commerce Clause challenge. Although that issue is no longer live, there should be plenty of issues remaining to interest the judges.

From: Staff, KION

State and federal wildlife officials have unveiled ambitious plans aimed at helping endangered salmon and steelhead thrive again in Central California rivers.

The fish were abundant, migrating from the Pacific through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and up rivers, but dams were built, blocking 90 percent of passageways to their historical spawning areas at the heart of California. By the 1990s, the fish were nearly extinct and given protections under the federal Endangered Species Act.

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