Topic: Agricultural Drainage

Overview

Agricultural Drainage

California’s rich agricultural productivity comes with a price. The dry climate that provides the almost year-round growing season also can require heavily irrigated soils.  But such irrigation can also degrade the local water quality.

Two of the state’s most productive farming areas in particular, the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and parts of the Imperial Valley in southern California, have poorly drained and naturally saline soils.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Questions swirl around scope of federal probe into California water districts

A reported federal investigation that’s stalled part of a California irrigation-drainage deal does not extend to the small San Luis Water District in western Fresno and Merced counties, a top district official said Wednesday.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

California farmers hope Congress and Trump team can deliver irrigation drain deal

The political terrain appears favorable for a mega-million-dollar irrigation drainage deal, with Congress still fully in Republican hands and California’s sprawling Westlands Water District with influential allies. But there are complications.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Westlands’ irrigation drainage deal gets extended for one year so Congress can act

Westlands Water District and Justice Department officials have given themselves, and Congress, another year to finish a controversial irrigation drainage plan.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Westlands Water District irrigation drainage plan approved by House committee

A key House committee on Wednesday approved a big irrigation drainage deal with California’s politically potent Westlands Water District, opening another front in the state’s ongoing conflict over water, money and power.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Westlands Water District irrigation drainage bill set for House approval

California’s politically resurgent Westlands Water District is set to win House committee approval Wednesday of a big irrigation drainage plan that’s opposed by Northern California’s Democrats.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Fair deal or government giveaway? Farmers’ toxic drainage agreement nears completion

The federal government and farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley may be close to signing off on another controversial deal to clean up toxic runoff which, if left unabated, could threaten the downstream Delta.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Commentary: Westlands’ foes distort drainage compromise

In an election year, despite the usual suspects rallying against anything that would help Valley agriculture, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Natural Resources has taken an important step to advance bipartisan legislation codifying a settlement between the federal government and the Westlands Water District.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Conflicts swirl around San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage plan

A proposal to solve a long-running San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage dispute between the Westlands Water District and the federal government is roiling a Congress already hung up on other California water fights.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Northern California lawmakers question huge Westlands Water District deal

Northern California lawmakers are turning up the heat on the Westlands Water District, with coordinated calls for congressional hearings and tougher Obama administration scrutiny.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

California drought and drainage bills could collide on Capitol Hill

The politics of California water is becoming three-dimensional chess in Congress as lawmakers balance competing anti-drought ideas with a proposed San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage settlement that’s going to get bigger.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: If you’re 26, these California water disputes have lasted longer than you’ve been alive

The now-distant December of 1988 was a big month for California water lawsuits that would last a generation and eventually land in Congress’ lap, where their ripples linger to this day.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Clashes on California water resume in DC with introduction of drainage bill

U.S. lawmakers from California have more political turbulence ahead of them with the introduction Tuesday of a bill to settle a long-running San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage dispute.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Blog: Westlands Water District’s drainage cleanup time may have come

Fifteen years ago, a court ordered federal officials to get rid of potentially poisonous irrigation drainage trapped below vast Westlands Water District farms – “without delay.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Westlands Water District agreement a retreat from previous U.S. plan

Five years ago, a U.S. Interior Department official outlined the terms of potential legislation to resolve a lingering battle over badly drained farmland in the Westlands Water District.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: How a rich water district beat the federal government in a secret deal

Clout can be defined in many ways. In California’s parched Central Valley farmlands, it’s the ability to secure water. By that measure, the giant Westlands Water District has just set a whole new standard.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California farm drainage deal faces Capitol Hill currents

A Congress that has stumbled over a California water bill amid record drought now faces a challenging new fight over irrigation drainage. … In a federal court filing Wednesday, the Justice Department provided both details and a roadmap for the irrigation drainage settlement formally agreed to by federal and Westlands officials the day before.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Irrigation district to clean water in milestone settlement

The federal government has settled a decades-old lawsuit with the nation’s largest irrigation district, which has agreed in a tentative deal to clean up contaminated water in California’s fertile Central Valley.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

A San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage settlement is reached, but questions remain

A top Interior Department official next Tuesday will sign a San Joaquin Valley irrigation settlement with the Westlands Water District, signaling the end of a long-running legal battle, but marking the start of a hot new political fight.

Video

Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley

Salt. In a small amount, it’s a gift from nature. But any doctor will tell you, if you take in too much salt, you’ll start to have health problems. The same negative effect is happening to land in the Central Valley. The problem scientists call “salinity” poses a growing threat to our food supply, our drinking water quality and our way of life. The problem of salt buildup and potential – but costly – solutions are highlighted in this 2008 public television documentary narrated by comedian Paul Rodriguez.

Video

Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley (20-minute DVD)

A 20-minute version of the 2008 public television documentary Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the problem of salt build up in the Central Valley potential – but costly – solutions. Narrated by comedian Paul Rodriquez.

Western Water Magazine

Salt of the Earth: Can the Central Valley Solve its Salinity Problem?
July/August 2007

This Western Water looks at proposed new measures to deal with the century-old problem of salinity with a special focus on San Joaquin Valley farms and cities.

Western Water Magazine

Unlocking the Mysteries of Selenium
March/April 2006

This issue of Western Water examines that process. Much of the information is drawn from discussions that occurred at the November 2005 Selenium Summit sponsored by the Foundation and the California Department of Water Resources. At that summit, a variety of experts presented findings and the latest activities from areas where selenium is of primary interest.

Aquafornia news

Aquafornia news about Agricultural Drainage

There are some important things happening in the news right now. Check it out on Aquafornia!

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Agricultural Drainage
Updated 2001

With irrigation projects that import water, farmers have transformed millions of acres of land into highly productive fields and orchards. But the dry climate that provides an almost year-round farming season can hasten salt build up in soils. The build-up of salts in poorly drained soils can decrease crop productivity, and there are links between drainage water from irrigated fields and harmful impacts on fish and wildlife.

Video

Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern day issues.

Video

Water on the Edge (30-minute VHS)

A 30-minute version of the 2005 PBS documentary Water on the Edge. This video is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the New River.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute VHS)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Maps & Posters

San Joaquin River Restoration Map
Published 2012

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, features a map of the San Joaquin River. The map text focuses on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, which aims to restore flows and populations of Chinook salmon to the river below Friant Dam to its confluence with the Merced River. The text discusses the history of the program, its goals and ongoing challenges with implementation. 

Maps & Posters

Carson River Basin Map
Published 2006

A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin. Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin Area Office.

Maps & Posters

Delta Sustainability Map
Published 2006

This beautifully illustrated 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom, focuses on the theme of Delta sustainability.

The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization and fish and wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the California Bay-Delta Authority.

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Imperial Valley

Southern California’s Imperial Valley is home to California’s earliest agricultural drainage success story, one that converted a desert landscape to an agricultural one, but at the same time created far reaching consequences.

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Evaporation Ponds

Evaporation ponds contain agricultural drainage water and are used when agricultural growers do not have access to rivers for drainage disposal.

Drainage water is the only source of water in many of these ponds, resulting in extremely high concentrations of salts. Concentrations of other trace elements such as selenium are also elevated in evaporation basins, with a wide degree of variability among basins.

Such ponds resemble wetland areas that birds use for nesting and feeding grounds and may pose risks to waterfowl and shorebirds.

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Agricultural Drainage Environmental Impacts

Agriculture drainage issues date back to the earliest farming. In ancient times, farmers let fields stay fallow hoping rain would flush out salt.

Today, salt and other contaminants continue to cause agricultural drainage problems, particularly in California. Whether a field is adequately drained, or saturated with water, the water still has to be removed.

The disposal of this often-contaminated water continues to be a challenge in California, with the environmental effects of selenium and other drainage-related elements changing the course of drainage planning.

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Agricultural Drainage and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Few regions are as important to California water as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers converge to discharge into San Francisco Bay.

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Agricultural Drainage

California’s rich agricultural productivity comes with a price. The dry climate that provides the almost year-round growing season also can require heavily irrigated soils. But such irrigation can degrade the local water quality.

Two of the state’s most productive farming areas in particular, the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and parts of the Imperial Valley in Southern California, have poorly drained and naturally saline soils.

Commands