Tuesday, August 12, 2014

News articles and links from August 12, 2014

Water Supply

From: Peter Fimrite, SF Chronicle

As cities brace for rationing and many California farmers yank out trees and fallow land for crops, growers and dairy farmers on 240,000 acres along the San Joaquin River near Los Banos are comparatively awash in water. The property owners and farmers who are within the 80-mile-long territory that falls under the authority of the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors will get 75 percent of the water they historically receive this year from the California State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Coalition response... As a result of the Exchange Contractors agreeing to shift the source of their pre-1914 appropriative and riparian rights and enter into contracts with the federal government, San Joaquin River water became available to farmers on the eastside of the San Joaquin Valley who otherwise would not have that water to grow much of the food that we all look for in our grocery stores. Cities and small rural communities have also benefited from the water developed by the construction of Friant Dam, a cornerstone of the CVP, which would not have happened if the Exchange Contractors had not agreed to enter into the agreements with the federal government over 75 years ago. Conservation programs are extremely important and are implemented by each of the EC members.  This year the implementation of inflexible federal and state environmental regulations coupled with the drought has crippled the CVP and forced the federal government to make deliveries to senior right holders on the San Joaquin River. If anyone has benefited from this "good deal," as Tom Stokely describes it, it is the small rural communities in the San Joaquin Valley, refuges and consumers throughout our state and around the world. 

Water Bond

From: Steve Evans, Modesto Bee

In November, California voters will be asked how much money they want to borrow to improve the state's water infrastructure and fight the drought. Because polls show an $11.1 billion general obligation bond on the Nov. 4 ballot is too expensive for many voters, legislators are scrambling to revise the water bond to make it more palatable.

Along with the total amount, another point of contention is how much is allotted to building new and enlarging existing surface storage dams. The current bond and the $8.7 billion version proposed by Senate Republicans include $3 billion for new and bigger dams, but Gov. Jerry Brown's $6 billion proposal whittles this down to $2 billion. A coalition of environmental groups allocates $1 billion for surface storage in its $6 billion plan.

From: Jeremy White, Sacramento Bee

Scrambling to place a new water bond before voters, California's legislative leaders on Monday converged on a $7.195 billion proposal and carved out more time to finish it by delaying a looming electoral deadline.

Contours of the water bond blueprint surfaced as the Legislature toiled under a rapidly closing window to act. With November elections months away, California's secretary of state was scheduled to begin printing voter guides on Monday evening.

From: Staff, Modesto Bee

An agreement on a revised water bond for the November ballot seemed within reach on Monday, but only if no side gets too grabby. That includes legislators from both parties and from all regions, and it includes members of Congress.

As The Bee's Jeremy B. White reported, California lawmakers converged on a proposed bond in the range of $7.2 billion. 

From: Fenit Nirappil, Associated Press

Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders said Monday they are closing in on a deal to overhaul a water bond on the November ballot, but their replacement plan still needs support from Republicans.

Both houses of the Legislature voted Monday to extend the deadline for printing voter pamphlets, giving lawmakers and the governor another two days to reach an agreement.


From: Katherine Noyes, Forbes

More than 80% of California is now in a state of extreme drought, according to the latest assessment. The environmental conditions that residents are experiencing today actually began in 2011. Still, there seems to be no end in sight. Water costs are sky high, as you would expect, but Californians are paying the price in more ways than one.

The state's Central Valley agriculture industry, for example, stands to lose $1.7 billion this year as a result of what some believe is the worst drought to affect the region in 500 years. Some 14,500 workers could lose their jobs in an area responsible for half of the state's agriculture and five percent of the entire nation's.

From: Tracy Brown, Associated Press

Nevada's Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, has hit an all time-low since it was first filled in the 1930s, raising concerns that a water shortage could be declared for a region home to 40 million people in seven fast-growing states.

From: Ian James, USA Today

The first half of 2014 was by far the hottest in California in 120 years of record-keeping, and that heat is exacerbating one of the most devastating droughts in state history.

Month after month, the red and burgundy patches on the California drought map have been spreading, with 82 percent of the state now classified as being in "extreme" or "exceptional" drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor website.


From: Casey Hashimoto, Modesto Bee

For an informed dialogue to occur, Turlock Irrigation District is compelled to offer additional information following a recent groundwater editorial (Our View: Stanislaus County officials finally responding to water crisis, July 31).

TID recognizes there are challenges within the Turlock groundwater subbasin, and sympathizes with people who have concerns. This is why we are continuing to fight to maintain surface-water resources for the area, and hope to expand our water supply beyond surface water and groundwater. We've also taken steps to conserve water and make our canal system more efficient, most recently in the development of a long-term TID water resources plan.

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