CWA-CCW Slides 3-12-16

Use the following link to download the slides from the California Farm Water Coalition presentation at Harris Ranch on March 12, 2016:

Link (9MB PDF)


News Line – November 24, 2014

News Line – November 24, 2014

Read the latest news about issues affecting agriculture and farm water in California.

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Water Bond

From: J. Coleman & K. Tiegs, Sacramento Bee

For California water managers, 2014 has been one for the record books. Reservoirs have dropped to near-record lows, surface water deliveries have been slashed and some communities are rationing water to keep supplies in reserve for next year.But amid these challenging conditions, California voters opened the door for long-term solutions when they passed Proposition 1 on Nov. 4. The $7.5 billion bond measure provides a much-needed infusion of funding for water projects and programs at a pivotal time in California.

From: Barton Thompson, San Francisco Chronicle

On Nov. 4, Californians overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, California’s $7.5 billion water bond. Its passage was never really in doubt: Enduring a third year of drought, Californians found solace in Prop. 1’s promise of new storage facilities, conservation, recycled water, desalination and general drought preparedness. Whether Prop. 1 delivers on its promise, however, depends on what happens next.One danger is that Prop. 1 will lull Californians into believing that we have solved our water troubles. We haven’t. Nothing that Prop. 1 can do will redress the current drought. Even in the longer run, Prop. 1 is only a part of the solution to California’s water challenges.

Water Supply

From: Carolyn Lochead, San Francisco Chronicle

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s abrupt decision to yank a water bill she had spent more than four months negotiating came just as the California Democrat and Central Valley Republicans appeared on the brink of a deal.The surprise climax shocked Republicans, avoided a potentially embarrassing split between Feinstein and her fellow California Democratic senator, Barbara Boxer, and proved a rare retreat by a veteran lawmaker famous for her deal making and persistence.

From: Al Smith, Fresno Bee

The news that U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has withdrawn from discussions regarding drought-fighting legislation is a bitter pill for our community to swallow. Despite good intentions, her departure leaves dozens of California communities without a solution to the crippling drought that has devastated our region.Although policymakers say they will take up the issue next year, that simply starts another clock ticking, and is not a guarantee that anything will be accomplished. Our communities have already gone too long without solutions. We call on our elected officials to come together and craft a legislative solution to the water predicament, before Congress adjourns in December.

From: Staff, Fresno Business Hub

Senator Feinstein’s recent decision to delay the drought legislation until 2015 is devastating news to local communities and businesses in light of the economic hardship that is occurring due to the zero water allocation. This press conference will be held to provide an opportunity for those most impacted by this situation to speak to the harm that is occurring.

Salton Sea

From: Staff, Imperial Valley Press

This iteration of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors hasn’t been without its share of criticism, from us and others. At times, its actions can come off as aggressive, even confrontational and a little lone-wolfish.


But make no mistake, the board also operates from a position of cohesion, strong-willed and assertive when it feels it is right. The board members are very united, and they believe the Valley comes first above all else, and they are not afraid to show it.

From: Staff, Associated PressThe Imperial Irrigation District has asked the state water board to intervene to help prevent further deterioration of the Salton Sea.The Los Angeles Times reported in Saturday’s edition that district officials want the state to meet its obligation to provide water for the shrinking lake. They sent a plea to officials at the State Water Resources Control Board this week to help avert a “looming environmental and public health crisis.”

From: Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times

The Imperial Irrigation District has sent a plea to a state water board to help avert a “looming environmental and public health crisis” at the Salton Sea.In a letter this week to officials at the State Water Resources Control Board, the irrigation district asked that the board sponsor negotiations to get the state to fulfill its obligation to stop the deterioration of the sea caused by the sale of Imperial Valley water to San Diego County.

Food News

From: David Pierson, Los Angeles Times

The gnarled zinfandel grapevines on Rich Czapleski’s land have borne fruit for more than 100 years, producing dark, intense wines that exemplify the special growing conditions in this coveted winemaking region..Over that time, the vines have weathered some of California’s worst droughts – including the last three years with little difficulty.

News Line – November 21, 2014

News Line – November 21, 2014

Read the latest news about issues affecting agriculture and farm water in California.

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Water Supply

From: Michael Doyle, McClatchy DC

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California on Thursday pulled the plug on secret, high-stakes negotiations over a water bill for her drought-plagued state, saying she and fellow lawmakers will try again next year.

Feinstein’s unexpected move ends, for now, what had become an increasingly contentious fight over ambitious drought-fighting legislation whose details few people have seen.

From: Kevin Freking, Associated Press

Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday that congressional efforts to provide drought relief to Central Valley farmers and communities are dead for the year. She vowed to try again in 2015, but the outcome could be even less certain because Republicans will control both houses of Congress after they retook the Senate in this month’s midterm elections.

“Although we have made progress, it has become clear that we will be unable to present an agreed-upon proposal before Congress adjourns this year,” Feinstein said in a statement.

From: Kitty Felde, KPCC

After months of secret negotiations and without a single public hearing, a bill that would have built dams and reservoirs in California – and rolled back environmental laws – has been shelved. At least for now.

California’s record drought prompted both the House and Senate to pass their own version of water bills. The House version – cosponsored by the entire CA GOP delegation – would roll back environmental protections and rewrite water contracts.

From: Allison Floyd, Growing Georgia

A drought in California could lead farmers in the Southeast to consider new crops, a Georgia horticulturalist says.”Some of the larger vegetable growers in Georgia, particularly eastern Georgia, are being asked by their buyers to diversify,” said Tim Coolong, a vegetable specialist with the Extension Service. “The primary driver is concerns over water in California.”


From: Cary Blake, Western Farm Press

All California farmers and water districts want for Christmas this year is a slow, rainy winter – with perhaps a timely rain tucked in the stocking hanging from the fireplace.While the winter rain scenario will be determined in the weeks and months ahead, three California agricultural water leaders have plenty to say about the California drought, and how the lack of moisture from the sky and regulator intervention on the environment have placed farmers in financially perilous situations.


News Line – November 20, 2014

News Line – November 20, 2014

Read the latest news about issues affecting agriculture and farm water in California.

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Water Supply

From: Staff, Los Angeles Times

California made extraordinary progress on water policy in this severe drought year, largely under the guiding hand of Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor’s master stroke was to initiate the conversation and then back away, allowing various interests – agribusiness, urban areas, environmentalists, people who favored building tunnels to move water from north to south, people who vigorously opposed them – to fight it out.

From: Staff, Sacramento BeeSen. Dianne Feinstein and House Republicans have been secretly negotiating drought relief legislation that could severely alter California water policy. She should know better.Any legislation on the topic of water would have far-reaching implications, and ought to receive a full public airing before a congressional vote.

From: Tom Philpott, MotherJones.comSen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is negotiating a behind-closed-doors deal with Republican lawmakers to pass a bill that would ostensibly address California’s drought-an effort that has uncorked a flood of criticism from environmental circles.Feinstein’s quiet push for a compromise drought bill that’s palatable to Big Ag-aligned House Republicans has been in the works for six months, Kate Poole, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told me. And it has accelerated recently, as the Senator hopes to pass it by year end, during the “lame duck” period of the outgoing Democratic-controlled Senate.

Water Storage

From: J. Lund, A. Taghavi, M. Hall, A. Saracino, & L. Winternitz, UC Davis Watershed Sciences & Bechtel FoundationCalifornia’s approval of a $7.5 billion water bond has bolstered prospects for expanding reservoirs and groundwater storage, but the drought-prone state can effectively use no more than a 15 percent increase in surface water storage capacity because of lack of water to fill it, according to a new analysis released Nov. 20.The report by water engineers and scientists with the University of California, Davis, The Nature Conservancy and three prominent water consultants, said California could potentially use up to 6 million acre-feet in combined additional surface and groundwater storage – about a third more capacity than Shasta Reservoir. Exceeding this expansion runs into limits of available precipitation and the ability to transport water.

Water Transfers

From: J.N. Sbranti, Modesto Bee

A briefing of the Stanislaus County Water Advisory Committee on the state’s proposals to reduce river diversions for agriculture quickly turned into a pointed discussion about Oakdale Irrigation District’s determination to pump groundwater for its farmers while selling surface water to agencies outside the region.

Food News

From: H. Miller & R. Cornett, Forbes“Sustainable” has become a buzzword that is applicable not only to agriculture and energy production but to sectors as far afield as the building and textile industries. Some universities offer courses or even degrees in “sustainability.” Many large companies tout the concept and boast a sustainability department, and the United Nations has hundreds of projects concerned with sustainability throughout its many agencies and programs.But as with many vague, feel-good concepts-“natural” and “locavorism” come to mind-it contains more than a little sophistry. For example, sustainability in agriculture is often linked to organic food production, whose advocates tout it as a “sustainable” way to feed the planet’s expanding population.

News Line – November 19, 2014

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Water Supply

From: M. Doyle & M. Grossi, Fresno Bee

California’s water future is boiling below the surface this week.Only the chosen few have a clue about details. Bill documents, currently about 50 pages, are stamped “confidential draft language, do not distribute.” Capitol Hill doors are shut, congressional timetables are opaque and negotiators are strictly mum.

From: Staff, Merced Sun-Star

In September, when the Sun-Star’s editorial board asked Jeff Denham about the secret drought-relief negotiations going on in Congress, he objected, saying they weren’t secret at all. Not secret? Then they must be “top secret.”The only people who know the details around negotiations going on this week are those in the room – including people no one has elected. Westlands Water District general manager Tom Birmingham is said to be at the table, as are representatives of the vast Metropolitan Water District.

Water Transfers

From: J.N. Sbranti, Modesto Bee 

The Oakdale Irrigation District plans to sell $3.9 million worth of water to out-of-area buyers in 2015, has begun negotiating potential sales, and is considering offering local farmers financial incentives to fallow their land so additional irrigation water can be marketed to others.


“These water transfers are necessary to the district meetings its goals,” OID General Manager Steve Knell told his district’s board of directors Tuesday. “Funding for our capital (infrastructure) projects comes from water transfers.”

Salton Sea

From: Chris Nichols, San Diego Union-TribuneImperial Valley water officials on Tuesday urged the state to help “avert an emerging environmental and public health crisis at the Salton Sea,” or otherwise consider restricting a massive water transfer deal that benefits San Diego.

In a formal petition to the California Water Resources Control Board, the Imperial Irrigation District said the state has not lived up to its obligations to restore the inland lake, which straddles Imperial and Riverside counties.

From: Antoine Abou-Diwan, Imperial Valley Press

The Imperial Irrigation District is calling on the state of California to live up to its commitment to restore the ailing Salton Sea as, IID officials say, a public health threat looms on the horizon.

“Today, the Imperial Irrigation District submitted a petition to the State Water Resources Control Board to enforce the Quantification Settlement Agreement in its entirety by holding the state to what the IID board believes is its statutory obligation to select, fund and implement a restoration plan for the Salton Sea,” said IID Board President Jim Hanks, addressing the public at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Clean Water Act

From: Chris Adams, McClatchy DC 

The administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was taken aback by parts of the response to a proposed clean-water rule that has riled agriculture interests nationwide.In a wide-ranging Monday morning roundtable discussion sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said she expected some of the push-back on what is known as the “Waters of the United States” proposal. But not all of it.

From: Staff, EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement with Edward Lynn Brown, a canned food and nut wholesaler in Modesto, Calif. for destroying nearly 33 acres of wetlands, known as vernal pools, north of Merced, Calif. The settlement requires Brown to pay a $160,000 penalty and purchase and endow a conservation easement valued at $1 million.”California’s vernal pools are key to the survival of native plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “In a time of drought and climate change, it is more important than ever to protect these endangered habitats from irreversible destruction.”


From: Mark Hume, Globe and Mail

When California Governor Jerry Brown declared a statewide emergency in January, there was hope water conservation and increased pumping from aquifers could blunt the impact of a withering drought.Now, as the driest year in the state’s history is coming to a close, the aquifers are so overdrawn there are concerns about long-term damage – and the National Weather Service is predicting a fourth year of drought.

News Line – November 18, 2014


From: Lesley Stahl, CBS News

It’s been said that the wars of the 21st century may well be fought over water. The Earth’s population has more than doubled over the last 50 years and the demand for fresh water — to drink and to grow food — has surged along with it. But sources of water like rainfall, rivers, streams, reservoirs, certainly haven’t doubled. So where is all that extra water coming from? More and more, it’s being pumped out of the ground.
Coalition response… We applaud 60 Minutes for discussing the important issue of groundwater depletion. However, the report missed a very important factor relative to California – the amount of water taken from food production to prop up failing environmental policies. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act over a million acre-feet of water per year that was once used to grow food now flows to the Pacific Ocean with no measurable environmental benefit. For some it has been a 20-year drought brought on by misguided environmental regulations. Failed government policies are having the effect of making farmers MORE dependent on groundwater rather than less. It’s not surprising that they’re pumping groundwater to stay in business. The same thing happened a century ago and it was the federal and State water projects that put a halt to groundwater overdraft by providing plentiful surface water supplies. Many farmers today no longer have the reliable water supplies that were once delivered by these projects. That will ultimately affect consumers with fewer choices and higher prices at the grocery store.There might be a tradeoff if vulnerable fish species were recovering but they’re not. That’s because the real causes of fish death aren’t being addressed, such as overfishing, invasive species and undertreated wastewater discharges into California’s largest estuary, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Instead federal environmental water managers are treating the problem by dumping more and more water into a system that isn’t responding because it’s the wrong solution. Agricultural and urban water suppliers are required to complete efficient water management plans to assure that water is being used as efficiently as possible. It’s time that environmental water managers do the same.

Other News

Water Supply

From: Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday allowed environmentalists to challenge the government’s renewal of 41 long-term contracts for irrigation water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, in a lawsuit seeking greater protection for the endangered delta smelt.Water districts had asked the justices to review a ruling in April by a federal appeals court in San Francisco. That ruling reinstated a suit by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups claiming the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation should have consulted with government biologists before renewing contracts with farms and water districts for as long as 40 years. The justices denied the districts’ request on Monday.


From: Matthew Green, KQED

Despite a few recent downpours, California remains stuck in one of the most severe statewide droughts on record.But it’s far from just California’s problem. The state produces a huge percentage of the nation’s agriculture – nearly half of all fruits, vegetables and nuts, by some estimates. And that requires a massive amount of water: farms here use about 80 percent of the state’s developed water supply.

From: Reed Fujii, Stockton Record

California’s almond crop is smaller than expected, hurt by the state’s ongoing drought, while the predictions of a record walnut harvest seems to be coming true, industry experts said.But in both cases, laws of supply and demand, and in particular shifts in global market conditions, have led to softening prices. Almonds and walnuts are San Joaquin County’s top two cash crops, together valued at more than $900 million in 2013. Both are heavily exported.


From: Angela Greenwood, KGPE

A “60 Minutes” piece is drawing some sharp criticism from parts of the local agriculture community. The 13-minute report detailed issues with groundwater and how quickly it’s drying up.  It focused largely on the Central Valley and the surge in well drilling, but some are taking issue with the report.

The 60 Minutes report titled ‘Water’ aired Sunday night highlighting critical water issues around the country, the world and most specifically right here in the Central Valley. Fresno County based well driller Steve Arthur was among those interviewed for the piece but when he watched it on TV,  he says he wasn’t very happy.

From: Denise Robbins, Media Matters For America

A 60 Minutes report on groundwater depletion brought attention to a critical issue that many regard as a national security threat, but failed to mention the inherent connection between water scarcity and climate change.The November 16 edition of 60 Minutes featured a segment on the threat of groundwater scarcity titled “Depleting the Water.” In it, host Leslie Stahl covered the severe droughts around the world that are leading people to extract fresh water from the ground at unsustainable rates, warning that “the wars of the 21st century may well be fought over water.”

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Scott Smith, Associated Press

A huge conservation project that includes building two massive tunnels to carry water to California farms and communities can only be funded if local water agencies agree to make fixed payments – even during dry periods when deliveries are reduced, state officials said Friday.The information was provided as the state treasurer’s office released a financing plan for the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Project. The treasurer’s independent study offered no opinion on whether the project should be built but said the tunnels would only be feasible if water agencies adopted set annual payments.

From: Sharon Bernstein, Reuters

California farmers would pay more to irrigate their crops under a proposal to build tunnels under the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta to funnel water to the state’s agricultural breadbasket, officials said on Friday.The analysis released by state Treasurer Bill Lockyer said regional water suppliers and the farmers who purchase water from them would be able to handle the increased costs, even though the price of water could more than double once the price of paying for the project is included.

From: David Bienick, KCRA

Customers of California’s proposed twin-tunnel water project would have to make billions of dollars in fixed payments each year, even during dry periods when water levels run low, state officials said Friday. The information was provided as the state treasurer’s office released a financing plan for the $25 billion Bay Delta Conservation Project and said it would only be feasible if water agencies adopted a set yearly payment plan.”The conclusion that we reached is that it’s affordable, both on the agricultural side and on what’s called the municipal and industrial side,” said Tim Gage, one of the consultants hired to conduct the study.

From: Staff, KXTV
Everyone from Silicon Valley to Southern California, and farmers in between, depend on water from the San Joaquin Delta. The proposal for two enormous tunnels through the San Joaquin Delta may be the next big water war in California.Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan is to build two tunnels that are 40 feet wide and 30 miles long to carry Sacramento River water to Southern California. Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of the Restore the Delta coalition, opposes the plan.

From: Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle
California’s plan to build tunnels and siphon huge amounts of water from the delta will jack up costs for water users, including 3 million Bay Area residents, but farmers will be hit the hardest, according to a financial analysis released Friday.The report, by state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, says costs could double for some water customers if the Bay Delta Conservation Plan goes through, but it concludes that the overall $25 billion price tag is “within the range of urban and agricultural users’ capacity to pay.”


From: Sharon Bernstein, Reuters

The annual fall migration of Chinook salmon has been delayed by warmer water temperatures and slow-flowing streams in parts of California as the state’s three-year drought drags on, hatchery officials said Monday.Cool November temperatures usually bring thousands of adult salmon from the Pacific Ocean into streams and rivers to spawn. But this year, fish have been slow to migrate up the American River to the state’s hatchery near Sacramento, said William Cox, manager of the fish production and distribution program at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Farming News

From: David Willis, BBC

I have a neighbour, Deborah, and ever since I’ve lived here, her front lawn has been luxuriant and green. But wandering by the other day I did a double take. Mounds of earth were piled up where the grass had once been, and an army of workmen had set about installing succulent plants and ground cover, and the kind of prickly cactus you normally see in children’s cartoons.

By the time Deborah had finished explaining why she was doing it, I could hardly believe I hadn’t done the same thing myself.

From: Alex Breitler, Stockton Record

In the very place where the verdant Valley meets the dry, rolling foothills, longtime farmer Kenny Watkins climbed out of his truck one morning last week to examine an orchard of peach trees planted just last February.

The trees are already taller than the farmer. “It’s virgin ground,” Watkins said. “Just unbelievable.” During this drought, much has been written about the rapid conversion of vegetable row crops to more profitable fruit and nut orchards, given California’s tenuous water supply.