Thursday, July 31, 2014

News articles and links from July 31, 2014

Water Use 

OPINION: Why almonds cover California
From: Carolee Krieger, San Francisco Chronicle 
California produces more than 80 percent of the world's almonds, accounting for an export gross of more than $2.5 billion. Almonds, in short, are a profitable crop. But there's a big problem with these new plantings in the San Joaquin Valley. Almonds are thirsty.

California's almond orchards use almost 9 percent of the state's agricultural water supply, or about 3.5 million acre feet. That's enough water to supply the domestic needs of the Los Angeles Basin and metropolitan San Diego combined - about 75 percent of the state's population.
Coalition response... Krieger seeks to portray farmers as a villain, but despite her efforts, the fact is California's farmers just don't fit the part. California's 80,000 farms are almost all (96%) family run businesses, & almond farmers are no different. Growing almonds in the San Joaquin Valley actually does make a lot of sense, & they have been grown there for more than 100 years. The San Joaquin Valley is one of the few places in the world where good soil & a favorable climate have come together to allow for incredibly efficient production of a crop the markets demand. Almond farmers have invested heavily in tailoring their farms to grow almonds. From the equipment they buy to the skills they practice, this focus on specialization ensures they are the best at what they do. Far from being a water-wasting crop, almonds are as efficient as the row crops once extensively criticized by environmentalists.

The real villains for Krieger this time seem to be the countless professional scientists, engineers, hydrologists, policy professionals, & water managers who came together to find ways to mend what was truly a broken water system during our last major drought with the Monterey Agreement. The agreement is truly that, an understanding that brought diverse parties together. It increased flexibility in water storage, improved urban access to more secure water supplies, & reduced the red tape involved in transferring water where needed. In addition, it arranged for a trade. In exchange for precious water rights, the local, public agencies responsible for daily coordination of water deliveries took over control of the Kern Fan property owned by DWR. These local experts would later turn that property into what is now part of the successful Kern Water Bank.

   Other News


How California Farmers Are Dealing With the Drought  
From: Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg Television

Bloomberg's Alan Bjerga reports on California's drought and how different areas of the state are dealing with it. He speaks with Mark Crumpton on "Bottom Line."

From: Staff, CBS LA, KNX 1070

[Below are a series of food and agriculture related radio segments being run on KNX in Los Angeles.  Click the link above to browse the full list of segments. You can follow the conversation on twitter: #KNXDrought]

Running On Empty: Ice Cream
Running On Empty: Food Prices
Running On Empty: California Grocers Association's Dave Heylen
Running On Empty: Who's Watching The Water?
Running On Empty: Two Farmers

West's drought leads to rising prices, shrinking lakes  
From: Paul Vercammen, CNN

With water sources drying up, farmers are looking for underground springs to support their livelihoods. Steve Arthur works in California's San Joaquin Valley, drilling for water wells on drought-ravaged farms and ranches.

"It's just going crazy; people are starting to panic," said Arthur, the owner of Arthur & Orum Well Drilling Inc.


EDITORIAL: Stanislaus County officials finally responding to water crisis From: Staff, Modesto Bee

This week, Stanislaus County's leaders and officials have shown more initiative, more compassion and more willingness to help residents than we've seen since the start of our drought and ensuing groundwater crisis.

Groundwater Depletion in Colorado River Basin Poses Big Risk to Water Security
From: Sandra Postel, National Geographic

Let's step back for a minute and consider the implications of the study released last week on the depletion of groundwater in the Colorado River Basin.

For anyone concerned about the future of the American West, the findings of this study - which was published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and conducted by a team of scientists from NASA, the University of California-Irvine, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado-can make the heart pound.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Delta tunnel plan called a fish death sentence by key group  
From: Carolyn Jones, San Francisco Chronicle

The state's plan to build a pair of 35-mile tunnels under the delta would cause the extinction of winter-run chinook salmon, steep declines in dozens of other species and devastate water quality in San Francisco Bay, an environmental group said Wednesday.

Water Supply

California Bill May Jeopardize Water Supply
From: Eric Thomas, KABC 7

A controversial bill that could impact where millions of people in the Bay Area get their water is moving its way through Sacramento. The changes are proposed along a stretch of the Mokelumne River in the Sierra foothills. That river provides millions of homes with drinking water from the mountains to the Central Valley and the East Bay. Some people are wondering if a move to save the river could leave others high and dry.

LETTER: Water picture is blurry  
From: Rebecca Thompson, Fresno Bee

It was with great interest I read the article and editorial on water usage in Fresno. The 20% drop in per capita water usage since the installation of water meters in Fresno is commendable. However, the current Fresno per capita water usage of 240 gallons exceeds the state average of 196 gallons and the United States Geological Survey national average of 100 gallons.


Salmon will only get more water if die-off starts  
From: Jeff Barnard, Associated Press

A federal agency said Wednesday it will release extra water into Northern California's Klamath and Trinity rivers once salmon start dying from drought-related disease, but not before.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Louis Moore said from Sacramento, California, that the decision came under terms of a 2012 emergency water plan, and after consulting with tribes, irrigators and other agencies.

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