Thursday, August 14, 2014

News articles and links from August 14, 2014


Water Bond

From: Staff, Associated Press

Details of the $7.5 billion water package approved by the Legislature Wednesday for the November ballot (the total repayment cost is projected to be $14.7 billion over 30 years, assuming a 5 percent interest rate on the borrowing):
$2.7 billion for water storage projects, with criteria that are designed to encourage building the Sites Reservoir in Colusa County north of Sacramento and Temperance Flat dam northeast of Fresno.

From: Sharon Bernstein, Reuters

California Governor Jerry Brown approved on Wednesday a $7.6 billion plan to improve water supplies in the drought-stricken state that will be put before voters in November, ending a year of political wrangling over the measure.

California is in the throes of a devastating multi-year drought that is expected to cost its economy $2.2 billion in lost crops, jobs and other damages.

From: Staff, CBS 13  

Part of California's $7.5 billion water plan approved by legislators on Wednesday will go into building a reservoir in Colusa County discussed since the 1950s.

Some neighbors are embracing the plan to submerge 14,000 acres of rolling hills 20 miles west of Colusa for the proposed Sites Reservoir. "Revenue, money, water, resources. Bring land value up. There is a lot of good reasons for it," said Donald Carter.

From: Fenit Nirappil, Associated Press

Driven to action by the state's historic drought, California lawmakers on Wednesday voted to place a $7.5 billion water plan before voters in November. The measure marks the largest investment in decades in the state's water infrastructure and is designed to build reservoirs, clean up contaminated groundwater and promote water-saving technologies.

It replaces an existing water bond that was approved by a previous Legislature but was widely considered too costly and too bloated with pork-barrel projects to win favor with voters.

From: Staff, Associated Press

California lawmakers on Wednesday voted to place a $7.5 billion water plan before voters in November, driven to action by the state's severe and costly drought.

The measure would mark the largest investment in decades in California's water infrastructure and is designed to build reservoirs, clean up contaminated groundwater and promote water-saving technologies.

From: Reid Wilson, Washington Post 

Voters in California will pass judgement on a massive $7.2 billion water bond package aimed at addressing a record drought after interest groups came to a last-minute agreement this week.

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Tuesday unveiled a compromise plan that earned support from interest groups ranging from conservationists to the Chamber of Commerce and agricultural businesses. Late Wednesday, legislators passed the plan by the required two-thirds vote after scrambling to meet a legal deadline for this year's election.

From: Melanie Mason, Los Angeles Times

After months of political haggling, a ballot measure that will ask voters in November to approve $7.5 billion in borrowing for water projects sailed through the Legislature on Wednesday.

Soon afterward, flanked by dozens of lawmakers from both parties, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure, which is intended to provide funds for new reservoirs, water cleanup and environmental protection.

From: Melody Gutierrez, San Francisco Chronicle

California lawmakers voted Wednesday night to swap out an unpopular $11 billion water bond with one they hope voters will find more palatable: a scaled-back $7 billion version that earned widespread bipartisan support. It was promptly signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The smaller water bond will appear on the November statewide ballot as Proposition 1. Included in the deal is $2.7 billion for water storage projects, $900 million for groundwater cleanup and monitoring, $725 million for water recycling and $1.5 billion for watershed restoration programs.

From: Kevin Riggs, KCRA 3

Anyone who has followed water politics in California knows it is messy, divisive and often defies compromise. In view of those dynamics, Wednesday's near-unanimous floor votes to approve a new November water bond -- 37-0 in the Senate and 77-2 in the Assembly -- mark an impressive bit of political deal making.

Gov. Jerry Brown has made it clear he is no fan of additional deep borrowing by the state. But given the severe drought gripping California, he also recognized the need to push a comprehensive water bond that would provide relief through short-term fixes like recycling and treatment as well as longer-term remedies that take the form of more reservoir storage.

From: Steven Greenhut, San Diego Union-Tribune

"You know why there are so many whitefish in the Yellowstone River?" asked Montana-based landscape artist Russell Chatham, in his 1978 book. "Because the Fish and Game people have never done anything to help them." I keep that quotation in mind whenever the government promises to solve a problem, especially a big one that promises to tame nature.

The very act of legislative sausage making - that age-old cliché about the ugly nature of lawmaking - assures that deals to please special interests and appease people with differing political philosophies and constituencies drives the final result. Ongoing efforts to craft a drought-related water bond fits that pattern to a tee.

From: George Skelton, Los Angeles Times

Five years after producing a pork-bloated water bond proposal that failed the smell test, the Legislature has offered up a new serving that's lean and digestible.

Credit mainly Gov. Jerry Brown, who had the right recipe: smaller portions, light on delta ingredients. The Legislature passed the bond bill Wednesday night. It doesn't quite fill everyone's appetite but will do just fine.

Groundwater

From: Adam Herbets, KBAK 29

The state of California uses more groundwater than any other state in the union, but it's also the only state in the West that doesn't have any regulations to make sure wells don't run dry.

Agriculture in Kern County is doing the best it can to produce crops during another year of drought.  At this point, farmers have given up on El Niño bringing through any rain, forcing them to rely even more on groundwater. "We're panicked," says Beatris Sanders of the Kern County Farm Bureau.  "It's incredibly vital.  We can't live without it.  We can't farm without it.  We can't produce food."

Water Supply

From: Staff, Merced Sun-Star

Officials with the Merced Irrigation District are urging growers to use all their water allocations by Sept. 15.

The irrigation season will end when Lake McClure's level drops to 85,000 acre-feet of water. Irrigation water is measured per acre-foot, which is the amount of water it takes to cover an acre of land a foot deep, or about 325,900 gallons.

From: Rick Elkins, Porterville Recorder

For the next 10 days, water will flow down the Tule River through Porterville and while the amount is not a lot, it will benefit not only growers in the Terra Bella area, but residents along the river and eventually the Porter Slough.

The 15-day water run began Aug. 7 and Sean Geivet, manager of the Porterville Irrigation District (PID), said at the end of the release out of Success Dam the water will be diverted down the Porter Slough to hopefully help residents along the slough whose wells have gone dry.

Drought

From: Rich Ibarra, Capital Public Radio

Farming in California isn't cheap.

Growers have expenses that include fuel, fertilizer, and feed, but the biggest cost is labor with one out of every four dollars spent on human workers. In the Midwest, predominant crops like corn can be mechanically harvested.

Stockton Grower Marc Marchini says his asparagus must be picked by hand. "A lot of people are trying to get away from labor, you know, trying to go to mechanical harvesting, mechanical pruning, mechanical everything," Marchini says.

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