Topic: Agricultural Conservation

Overview

Agricultural Conservation

As the single largest water-consuming industry, agriculture has become a focal point for efforts to promote water conservation. The drive for water use efficiency has become institutionalized in agriculture through numerous federal, state and local programs. Since the 1980s, some water districts serving agricultural areas have developed extensive water conservation programs to help their customers (From Aquapedia).

Aquafornia news KPBS

New study says forecasters are overestimating future demand for water

A new report by the Pacific Institute suggests Californians have learned to conserve so well that water forecasters need to rethink their approach to estimating future water demand.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Researchers propose climate-smart desert food production model for land and human health

Water-efficient succulents and nitrogen-fixing tree legumes may take five to 12 years to produce their first nutritional harvests. Nevertheless, they can produce more edible biomass over a decade with far less water than that used by conventional annual crops, while sequestering carbon into the soil to mitigate climate change…

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: SGMA and the human right to water: How do submitted groundwater sustainability plans address drinking water?

Although only five of 41 groundwater sustainability plans submitted to the Department of Water Resources for review in January mention the human right to water, and only one of those affirmed it as a consideration in their plan, these two policies are closely related.

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Report: An assessment of urban water demand forecasts in California

Failure to account for the long-term trend of declining per capita water demand has led to routine overestimation of future water demand. This can lead to unnecessary and costly investment in unneeded infrastructure and new sources of supply, higher costs, and adverse environmental impacts.

Aquafornia news California Rangeland Trust

News release: Groundbreaking research into working landscapes

The study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, examined 306,718 acres of California Rangeland Trust’s conservation easements across the state to explore both the environmental and monetary value of preserving California’s open spaces.

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Portfolio outlines actions to address water problems

Now that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has released a final California Water Resilience Portfolio, farm organizations say they will monitor progress on implementing the plan’s proposals—and on resolution of ongoing state-federal conflicts that complicate achieving some of its goals.

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Aquafornia news Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Colusa County landowners sought for groundwater recharge program

According to a release issued by the Nature Conservancy, the program provides an opportunity for growers to receive financial compensation for recharging groundwater during the course of normal farming operations on a variety of crops while also providing critical wetland habitat for waterbirds migrating along the Pacific Flyway.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Senate panel reviews bills to address irrigation, conservation

Senators met yesterday to consider a suite of legislation to address water problems in the American West, though little was revealed about what comes next for the bills.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Report says California groundwater sustainability plans are inadequate

The grim report by the Water Foundation, a charitable organization based in California that is focused on clean, reliable water for people and nature, predicts the groundwater sustainability plans written by the various districts in the San Joaquin Valley will not achieve what SGMA purports to do – that is, sustainably manage groundwater resources.

Editors Note: The Water Foundation is not affiliated with the Water Education Foundation.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Farmers doing more with less need help from above

Ceres Imaging, an Oakland-based startup company, is one of several high-tech aerial monitoring companies helping California farmers, including those in Kern County, increase their production, while decreasing their demand for water. It is a logical marriage between agriculture and innovators in California’s Silicon Valley.

Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Blog: Podcast focuses on new agriculture and California’s future

On a hot June evening, UC Merced Professor Josh Viers joined farm advocate and small farmer Tom Willey on his front porch near Fresno to talk about California’s water, disadvantaged communities, agricultural production and the future as part of the new “Down on the Farm” podcast that’s now available for all to hear.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Climate-change research provides tools for farmers

Tapan Pathak, University of California Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Merced, is doing applied research that farmers and ranchers can use to adapt to new conditions created by a variable and changing climate. “You don’t have to shift your practice tomorrow, but if you are thinking of making a 30-year investment, it’s important to know what risks there are for planting different crops,” said Pathak…

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

GSA Summit: Lessons learned from the 2020 Groundwater Sustainability Plans: Perspectives from critically overdrafted basins

At the Groundwater Resources Association Third Annual Groundwater Sustainability Agency Summit held online in June, a panel of managers from four of the critically overdrafted basins reflected on the hard work of developing and adopting a groundwater sustainability plan.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

US rivers and lakes are shrinking for a surprising reason: cows

A recent analysis published in Nature found cattle to be one of the major drivers of water shortages. Notably, it is because of water used to grow crops that are fed to cows such as alfalfa and hay. Across the US, cattle-feed crops, which end up as beef and dairy products, account for 23% of all water consumption, according to the report. In the Colorado River Basin, it is over half.

Aquafornia news California Ag Today

Should farmers meter their wells now for SGMA?

With the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act closing in on growers throughout California, there are many questions. One big one: should growers go ahead and put a meter on their pumps?

Aquafornia news Nevada Today

Blog: Plant tissue engineering improves drought and salinity tolerance

After several years of experimentation, scientists have engineered thale cress, or Arabidopsis thaliana, to behave like a succulent, improving water-use efficiency, salinity tolerance and reducing the effects of drought. The tissue succulence engineering method devised for this small flowering plant can be used in other plants to improve drought and salinity tolerance with the goal of moving this approach into food and bioenergy crops.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Without agreements on water, California needs to set new objectives and protections for the Delta

For more than a decade, California’s governors have pushed for “voluntary agreements” to establish rules for water diversions by major urban and agricultural water districts, and to redress their environmental impacts. Voluntary agreements crumbled recently, after the state’s largest water districts walked away from the table.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Salton Sea: Imperial County hits feds with pollution violation notice

As the Salton Sea retreats, leaving the dry playa exposed, dust particles become airborne and mobilize lung-damaging toxins from agricultural runoff. Red Hill Bay, located near the southeastern corner of the sea, would restore habitat by flooding the area, but it’s one of several mitigation projects that have taken flack for progressing so slowly.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: California’s 21st century megadrought

A recent paper on climate change in California and the West has been in the news and raising concerns. Based on extensive analysis of tree ring data—a good measure of summer soil moisture—the authors postulate that most of the region is in an unfolding “megadrought” that began in 2000 and is the second worst in the past 1,200 years. … If the state is in a megadrought, it means a great deal. We should plan accordingly.

Aquafornia news Sustainable Conservation

Blog: Balancing California’s water future

California’s groundwater – a critical resource in times of drought – is disappearing faster than we’re replenishing it. Our underground savings accounts are tapped, and we face a host of challenges like land subsidence, storage capacity loss and, most importantly, a dwindling water supply for California’s dry times.

Aquafornia news California Ag Today

No-till saves water, increases yield

Standard tillage practices have been used throughout the San Joaquin Valley for nearly 90 years. Using similar inputs and amounts and pest management, UC Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist Jeff Mitchell’s team showed that a garbanzo and sorghum rotation in no-till yielded at least as well as in standard tillage. Sorghum yields were similar in no-till and standard tillage systems while garbanzo yields matched or exceeded no-till…

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Remarkable drop in Colorado River water use a sign of climate adaptation

States have grappled in the last two decades with declining water levels in the basin’s main reservoirs — Mead and Powell — while reckoning with clear scientific evidence that climate change is already constricting the iconic river… For water managers, the steady drop in water consumption in recent years is a signal that conservation efforts are working and that they are not helpless in the face of daunting environmental changes.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: The past, present and future of California’s groundwater

The passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014, granted the state official oversight authority of groundwater. … A new paper published in Society and Natural Resources, examines how the state’s ongoing involvement helped shape current policies by looking at the 120-year history of California’s role in groundwater management…

Aquafornia news The Aggie

Almond orchard recycling a sustainable and beneficial strategy for growing almonds

This practice entails on-site grinding of whole, removed trees and the incorporation of the wood chips back into the almond fields before the next replanting. … In terms of soil health, the [University of California] researchers found a 58% increase in soil carbon as well as a 32% increase in water holding capacity compared to conventional burning practices. Overall productivity of the trees increased by 20% as well.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

NRCS partnership to enhance San Joaquin Valley water efficiency

The Natural Resources Conservation Service is working with American Farmland Trust to help enhance San Joaquin Valley water efficiency. The San Joaquin Valley Land and Water Conservation Collaboration is being made possible through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program from NRCS, in coordination with state and local partners.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Budget cuts for SGMA funding could hurt farmers later

The governor’s administration in January pitched ambitious proposals to help fund implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and cushion its impacts on farmers and local communities. In the May Revision of the budget, however, all but one funding allocation from an earlier proposition have been withdrawn.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Feds say Tule groundwater could continue to sink

The gravity-fed Friant-Kern Canal that is key to survival for 15,000 east side San Joaquin Valley farms continues to be impacted by subsidence. Land near Porterville appears to be most worrisome where the land has sunk so much due to adjacent water pumping that the canal has lost 60% of its capacity. As of July 2018, it was estimated the canal is approximately 12 feet below the original constructed elevation.

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Aquafornia news AgDaily

CRISPR a tool for conservation, not just gene editing

The gene-editing technology CRISPR has been used for a variety of agricultural and public health purposes — from growing disease-resistant crops to, more recently, a diagnostic test for the virus that causes COVID-19. Now a study involving fish that look nearly identical to the endangered Delta smelt finds that CRISPR can be a conservation and resource management tool, as well.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Trial grows hemp on California desert

The interest is based on the versatility of hemp, which can be made into different products — biodiesel, fiber, textiles, clothing, food and nutritional supplements. It’s also because cotton is no longer grown in the Imperial Valley, and hemp could be a potential replacement crop that consumes a lot less water than cotton.

Aquafornia news Comstock's Magazine

Nut of the future?

With droughts inevitable, more farmers are switching from almonds to pistachios, but not everyone is happy about it. Around the Central Valley, as far north as Colusa but mostly south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, pistachio production is rapidly accelerating. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Groundwater: The charge to recharge needs to be data driven

Where, when, how much and how fast water can best be recharged into the Central Valley’s severely depleted aquifers has become a critical question. A new tool aims to help answer those questions at the field-by-field level or up to an entire county.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Why I’m visiting the California Capitol to testify on groundwater

My colleagues and I worked with Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), to craft AB 2642, which will create the Multibenefit Land Conversion Incentive Program… This new program will provide incentive payments to farmers and landowners who voluntarily repurpose their agricultural land to other less water-intensive uses for a minimum of 10 years.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion – Bruce Babbitt: Here’s how less than 10% of farmland could solve the Colorado River’s water deficit

There is a better, more equitable pathway for reducing the deficit without forcing arbitrary cuts. It involves 3 million acres of irrigated agriculture, mostly alfalfa and forage crops, which consume more than 80% of total water use in the basin. By retiring less than 10% of this irrigated acreage from production, we could eliminate the existing million acre-foot overdraft on the Colorado River..

Aquafornia news Growing Produce

Will drip replace overhead irrigation in farm fields?

Dr. Aliashgar ‘Ali’ Montazar, a University of California, Riverside researcher, heads up irrigation and water management in Imperial and Riverside counties for the University of California Cooperative Extension system. … He’s kicking the tires for growers so they can decide if drip is the way to go even in crops that traditionally haven’t had drip. And he’s finding it has benefits beyond conserving water.

Aquafornia news Bitterroot Magazine

It’s time to plan for drier western rivers

A strange thing happens during particularly wet winters in California: farmers flood their fields. … Aquifers are the last line of defense against drought conditions. By flooding their fields in January, farmers hope to fill these underground reservoirs with water they can use in August. If a trio of recent studies prove accurate, one can expect to see this method deployed more regularly.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Restore the Delta webinar on voluntary agreements

In mid-April of 2020, Restore the Delta hosted a webinar where they discussed the history of water planning and the voluntary agreements, including their numerous concerns. … Before addressing the main topic of the webinar, Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parilla noted that there are many in the Delta who aren’t on the webinar due to lack of reliable internet service in rural communities, affordability issues, and/or lack of access to devices.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Fair water

Fairness – or at least the perception of fairness – could play a determining role in the future of California’s groundwater, according to new research. The study, published in Society and Natural Resources, evaluated 137 surveys of Yolo County farmers to gauge their perceptions of fairness for groundwater allocation strategies and dispute resolution options.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona farmers ‘in limbo’ despite $10 million federal pledge

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved $10 million to help pay for water projects in the farmlands of central Arizona, where growers are bracing for their supply of Colorado River water to be shut off. But those funds, conditionally awarded this month by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, are still subject to negotiations between federal and state officials.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Western Groundwater Congress: Water resources management in the Pajaro Valley Basin

The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency has been working toward sustainable management of the Pajaro Valley’s water resources. At the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, General Manager Brian Lockwood discussed the projects and programs the Agency is implementing as they work towards achieving groundwater sustainability.

Aquafornia news Foothills Sun Gazette

UC researchers study Valley drought in Canada

Samantha Ying and Michael Schaefer, both from the Department of Environmental Sciences at University of California (UC) Riverside, are part of a team set on untangling the mystery of a practice upon which farmers have relied for centuries to reduce water use—cover crops.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Report: Arizona’s Colorado River water supply will hold steady next year

Under the drought contingency plan hammered out by Colorado River Basin states last year, Arizona agreed to voluntarily reduce its water use by 192,000 acre-feet, or about 7%, leaving that water in Lake Mead to help reduce the likelihood of greater cutbacks down the road. Tom Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, says data from a new Bureau of Reclamation report show that plan is working.

Aquafornia news Western Water

Monday Top of the Scroll: Framework for agreements to aid health of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a starting point with an uncertain end

Voluntary agreements in California have been touted as an innovative and flexible way to improve environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the rivers that feed it. … Yet, no one said it would be easy getting interest groups with sometimes sharply different views – and some, such as farmers, with livelihoods heavily dependent on water — to reach consensus on how to address the water quality and habitat needs of the Delta watershed.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

Yolo Basin Foundation names new director

Yolo Basin Foundation’s Board of Directors announced this week that Chelsea Martinez has been named the Foundation’s new executive director. … Martinez joined the Foundation in 2017 as the Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator and has grown and sustained the Foundation’s volunteer base to over 200 volunteers as well as helped to increase community involvement in its programs.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Western Groundwater Congress: Utilizing excess winter stormwater flows for groundwater recharge

Kristin Sicke is Assistant General Manager for Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, which manages water supplies for 200,000 acres in western Yolo County, which encompasses Woodland, Davis, and the surrounding area. In this presentation from the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Sicke describes the district’s efforts to use winter stormwater flows for groundwater recharge in the Yolo subbasin.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Eric Averett: Water allocation strategies in the context of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

Eric Averett is General Manager with the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District, which is one of several water districts within Kern County. … In this presentation from the Western Groundwater Congress, Mr. Averett discusses how his district and Kern County have been grappling with how to establish groundwater pumping allocations.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: It’s time to start a different conversation about water

Against the terrible news of a national emergency, it’s perhaps difficult to focus on our water situation. Recall that January and February were bone-dry; March and April bore us a couple of storms, but it was too little, too late. It was a very dry winter, overall. … That puts us in the position of another “do or die” year for precipitation next winter, an altogether familiar proposition in California. We all know: It rains a bunch all at once in some years, and then we go dry for a number of years after that.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: What’s the plan to end groundwater overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley?

In January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins delivered groundwater sustainability plans to the state Department of Water Resources. In this series, we examine the 36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region. … This post examines how the plans propose to end overdraft.

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Aquafornia news Fort Bragg Advocate-News

Groundwater management hearings set for late April

Registered voters who live in Mendocino have the opportunity and responsibility to decide the direction of groundwater management in Mendocino at two upcoming Mendocino City Community Services District Public Hearings scheduled for April 16 and 27.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Western water data coming to new online platform

Evapotranspiration data has historically been limited in scope and expensive to access. A new project seeks to change that. Researchers from NASA, the Desert Research Institute and the Environmental Defense Fund, with support from Google Earth Engine technology, are working to create an online platform with free, accessible, satellite-based water data open to anyone.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Research tests how rice fields can benefit fish

Winter-flooded rice fields already provide essential habitat for migratory birds, but could they also provide benefits to help the state’s salmon populations? Scientists at the University of California, Davis, are finalizing their fieldwork on an experiment to find out what management practices farmers might adopt in their fields to maximize fish survival.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Water management as farming practice

“Water management is one of the most important farming practices you or your clients should be practicing, full stop,” wrote Phoebe Gordon, UC Cooperative Extension orchard systems advisor in Madera and Merced counties. Born and raised in California, Gordon is excited to share her knowledge with growers to improve orchard production and sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley and beyond.

Aquafornia news Estuary Magazine

Sustaining Pajaro Valley’s water

The Pajaro Valley enjoys a temperate microclimate, in part because it is situated at the hip of Monterey Bay. … But the Pajaro Valley is different from the rest of the big ag regions in California. The loamy soil isn’t irrigated with massive surface water infrastructure like in the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

David Orth gives his observations on how SGMA implementation is playing out in the San Joaquin Valley

David Orth is the principal of New Current Water and Land, which offers strategic planning, program implementation, and water resource development services. At the California Irrigation Institute’s 2020 Annual Conference, he gave his observations having watched Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) form and develop their Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) since the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014.

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Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Ukiah’s Purple Pipe performs well during ‘mock frost event’

Likely just in time for the real thing, a “Mock Frost” event was held this week to test the capacity of the city of Ukiah’s recycled Water System, also called the Purple Pipe. … “It went well,” Ukiah grape grower David Koball said of the test. “There was lots of water pressure and we had no issues.”

Aquafornia news San Pedro Valley News-Sun

Former Arizona governor apologizes for failing rural counties on groundwater issues

When county Board of Supervisor member Peggy Judd asked former Gov. Bruce Babbitt to share his thoughts on rural counties taking on responsibilities relating to groundwater management, he responded, “I couldn’t say no.”

Aquafornia news Nevada Public Radio

Audio: The time for this water-saving grain in Nevada is now

Researchers with the University of Nevada, Reno, have been working to evaluate and commercialize crops that use less water. Professor John Cushman and his team think they’ve found an alternative. It’s called teff.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How water managers can build recharge basins to boost resilience for farmers and birds alike

Recharge basins are becoming increasingly popular in overdrafted regions in California, where water managers are seeking solutions to balance groundwater supply and demand to comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: Driving water conservation

Stanford researchers have developed a machine learning model that detects unexpected water-use consumption patterns – data water utilities can use to inform resource planning and water conservation campaigns.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Public comment opens for groundwater sustainability plans

Groundwater sustainability plans that have been submitted to the state are now online at the DWR SGMA Portal. Plans are open to public comment for 75 days after they were posted online. Below is a table of the submitted plans, the counties they cover and details about the public comment period for that plan.

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Aquafornia news Colusa County Sun-Herald

Growers needed for on-farm, groundwater recharge program

The Colusa Groundwater Authority, the California Department of Water Resources and The Nature Conservancy have partnered to conduct an on-farm, multi-benefit demonstration program for growers in two select project locations around Colusa County.

Aquafornia news AgGrad

Audio: Water economics with Dr. David Zetland

David joins me today to discuss the water economy and where we are right now as a civilization. He shares why we should be in a global state of panic and why we’re no longer in a world where water is sustainable. He explains the need for water to be priced and how it can positively affect the ag industry. David also discusses water rights, “free water,” the water market, and possible solutions to water scarcity.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

‘Framework’ aims to aid water agreements

In the coming weeks and months, the Newsom administration, water users and conservation groups will continue to refine a framework for potential voluntary agreements intended to benefit salmon and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: Hard to swallow Newsom’s “voluntary agreements” under the threat of doom

First things first: you’d be wise to forget everything you’ve read or heard recently about “voluntary agreements,” which according to the usual suspects, will bring a just and peaceful end the seemingly never-ending battle over California water. Not true. Not even close.

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Aquafornia news San Diego County Water Authority

Blog: Imperial Valley conservation efforts benefit San Diego, Southwest

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors visited the Imperial Valley January 30 for a day-long tour that highlighted areas critical to the agency’s Regional Conveyance System Study.

Aquafornia news L.A. Daily News

Opinion: Water plan should focus on the future, not the past

Time and time again seemingly well-intentioned initiatives and repeated attempts to develop a comprehensive water management solution have failed, despite cautionary tales. However, 2019 witnessed the horizon of a new initiative called the Voluntary Agreements that could do what few, if any, past plans, efforts, or reports could do – unite water management and develop collaboration.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump’s USDA chief, unlike Trump, backed water efficiency

If President Trump wants to understand the risk of rolling back water efficiency standards that have been in place for almost 30 years, he can turn to a member of his own Cabinet. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has signed off on regulations that treat water-efficient toilets and shower heads as effective tools to save Americans from droughts and other risks.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

SGMA implementation: Groundwater Sustainability Plan evaluation and State Water Board intervention

A joint workshop hosted by the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board provides details on how incoming plans will be evaluated and what State Water Board intervention might look like.

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Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Blog: Voluntary agreements are a better plan for California

We are on the brink of a historic accomplishment in California water to resolve longstanding conflicts through comprehensive voluntary agreements that substitute collaboration and creative solutions for perpetual litigation. For anyone to abandon this transformative effort in favor of litigation would be a tragic mistake…

Aquafornia news Bill Lane Center for the American West

Blog: Small farmers wait for California’s groundwater hammer to fall

Farmers, large and small, are beginning to grapple with what the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act means for them. One by one, local sustainability plans are starting to go public. Many farmers expect to see cutbacks on pumping once the program is fully implemented in 2040.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Tulare County agency approves groundwater sustainability plan; Friant-Kern Canal among concerns

Now the hard work begins which includes determining just how much water growers can pump out of the ground. A big factor in deciding how much groundwater can be pump will be mitigating the decreased level of water in the Friant-Kern Canal, another major topic addressed at Friday’s meeting.

Aquafornia news Cannabis Now

Climate change puts spotlight on the drought resistance of marijuana

Mediterranean climates include California, and dry-farming of cannabis is catching on in the Emerald Triangle as a part of the general trend toward sun-grown and organic product.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Ducey defends Arizona’s record on water, says state has ‘more to do’

Gov. Doug Ducey is touting Arizona’s record on water while also acknowledging the state has “more to do” in some areas. Ducey talked about water policies this week in an interview for The Arizona Republic’s podcast The Gaggle.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Time’s up on groundwater plans: One of the most important new California water laws in 50 years explained

The landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, requires some of the state’s thirstiest areas form local “Groundwater Sustainability Agencies” and submit long-term plans by Jan. 31 for keeping aquifers healthy. Together, those plans will add up to a big reveal, as groundwater managers finally disclose how badly they believe their aquifers are overdrawn…

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Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Douglas E. Beeman

Water Resource Innovation, Hard-Earned Lessons and Colorado River Challenges — Western Water Year in Review
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK-Our 2019 articles spanned the gamut from groundwater sustainability and drought resiliency to collaboration and innovation

Smoke from the 2018 Camp Fire as viewed from Lake Oroville in Northern California. Innovative efforts to accelerate restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires. Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address persistent challenges facing the Colorado River. 

These were among the issues Western Water explored in 2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed them.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

GSP vote set for Jan. 16

After years of planning, discussion and debate, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board will vote on the adoption of the groundwater sustainability plan at its meeting Thursday. … The plan will provide a roadmap to bring the IWV groundwater basin into sustainability by 2040. That includes reducing pumping of the basin to a safe yield of 7,650 acre-feet per year…

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona bills would strengthen rural groundwater rules

State legislators plan to tackle widespread problems of groundwater overpumping in rural Arizona this session, proposing bills that would make it easier to limit well-drilling in farming areas where residents have asked for help from the state to safeguard their dwindling water supplies.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Growers still unclear on how much groundwater they can use

The first question asked at the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board meeting on Friday represented the frustration of growers who are still facing the unknown. “It’s 2020,” the grower said, who went on to ask the board, referring to growers, “what can they pump?” The board is still working through the process on how much water growers can pump out of the ground.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

West Marin coalition aims to boost Walker Creek fish habitat

West Marin ranchers and a local conservation group are teaming up to plan habitat restoration projects along Walker Creek to restore the once bountiful, but now diminished, runs of coho salmon and steelhead trout. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife awarded the Point Reyes Station-based Marin Resource Conservation District a nearly $350,000 grant this month…

Aquafornia news Phoenix New Times

Five water issues to watch in Arizona in 2020

Plenty of work is on the docket for 2020 and beyond to manage and preserve Arizona’s water supply, even if that work might not write history the way last year’s signing of the Drought Contingency Plan did. … The state’s water managers are known for prioritizing predictability and making careful, gradual changes, not erratic or sudden ones. Here are five key issues to watch this year in Arizona water.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Arizona’s water supply a major issue for legislative session

Republican and Democratic Leaders of the Arizona House are again eyeing the state’s water supply as a major issue in the coming legislative session. GOP House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Democratic Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez have both highlighted overpumping in the state’s rural areas as a major issue for lawmakers when return to work on Monday.

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Aquafornia news The Grocer

How US almond growers are struggling to overcome ‘vampire’ image problem

Californian almonds will benefit from a new public campaign next week to capitalise on the explosion in plant-based eating… However, the environmental reputation of the almond sector is much less favourable. It was once labelled a “horticultural vampire” by US magazine New Republic for its perceived role in California’s most recent droughts.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: The Delta’s sinking islands: A way of life hangs in the balance

The courtroom battle over 9,000-acre Staten Island is the latest conflict in the Delta over farming, wetlands and aging levees that, besides preventing flooding, preserve a way of life on the man-made islands. The suit, filed in 2018 by a group called Wetlands Preservation Foundation, accuses the California Department of Water Resources and the Nature Conservancy of failing to adequately protect wildlife or employ sustainable agricultural practices on the property…The stakes are high because the channels, islands and marshes that make up the Delta are a catch basin for most of California’s drinking water.

Aquafornia news Cronkite News-Arizona PBS

Teamwork will be key to balancing the overcommitted Colorado River

Along with long-term drought and climate change, the overcommitment of the Colorado River is a big reason why Lake Mead has dropped to historic levels in recent years. Fixing it could be a big problem for Arizona.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

ACWA panel: Establishing groundwater allocations under SGMA

As groundwater sustainability agencies prepare their plans to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), they will likely utilize a variety of tools to achieve sustainability. … At ACWA’s fall conference, a panel discussed the legal framework, different types of groundwater rights, lessons learned from existing groundwater production allocation programs, and potential pitfalls …

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Water portfolio lays out state’s long-term plans

Farm organizations welcomed a new water planning document from state agencies while they analyzed the document’s proposed strategies. Titled the California Water Resilience Portfolio and released last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration described the document as an effort to guide water management in a way that works for people, the environment and the economy.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Newsom wants $220 million more for Salton Sea action plan in new budget

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year will include an additional $220 million for the Salton Sea Management Program, a 10-year plan to reduce the environmental and public health hazards plaguing the communities that surround the fast-drying body of water.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: Westlands backs governor’s Delta water strategy

Consistent with the science developed over the last three decades, the Newsom administration is pursuing comprehensive, watershed-wide solutions that address the numerous factors that limit the abundance of native fish in the Delta. These types of solutions are the ones that are most likely to achieve the state’s co-equal goals of the 2009 Delta Reform Act…

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County adopts plan to avoid pumping too much groundwater

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors adopted a plan on Tuesday meant to maintain groundwater and keep users from pumping too much from underground basins. … Officials said the plan also lays out efforts to try to recharge groundwater — in other words, replace water sucked out from underground.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: A change of plans

Governor Newsom’s administration recently released a draft Water Resilience Portfolio plan… This plan also emphasizes diverse relatively precise policy initiatives for state agencies, often in support of local and regional water problem-solving and with some aspirations to bring state agencies together. It is a good read, clearly reflecting intense and diverse discussions over several months.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Rapid changes in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta both diminish scientific certainty and increase science’s value

These changes will be substantial, multi-faceted, and often rapid. Some changes will be irreversible. Many changes are inevitable. Some will say today’s Delta is doomed. It will be important for California to develop a scientific program that can help guide difficult policy and management discussions and decision-making through these challenges.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Opinion: Creating a safe harbor on the ranch

In the shadow of Mount Shasta lies the Butte Creek Ranch, its alpine meadows carpeted in grass sprinkled with wildflowers and bordered by forest. … For over 160 years, this summer scene has played out for six generations of the Hart family. … Recently, the Harts guaranteed the continuation of this legacy by working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a plan that balances their land use with conserving the rich natural resources of Butte Creek.

Aquafornia news Maricopa Monitor

Drone on the range: Farmers take to the skies to save water and money

Farmers for decades have used huge machines to plant, grow and harvest their crops, but more and more Arizona farmers today are using tiny, remote-controlled aircraft to boost yields and save water and money.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Balancing water supply for all is 2020 priority

California water policy leaders say balancing the supply of groundwater by implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, and addressing policies related to water supply and water quality, will continue to be priority issues in 2020.

Aquafornia news Earth Island Journal

Making a crane marsh


The idea is to make this sort of wildlife friendly farm replicable elsewhere in the Delta. As part of that vision, the Nature Conservancy has a program called BirdReturns, in which staff identify farmland that would ideally be flooded for migratory birds. The group then “rents” that land from farmers for the duration of the birds’ stay, making it profitable for farmers even when it’s fallow.

Aquafornia news KUNC

With drought plans finished, water managers pause Colorado River negotiations

In theory, a demand management program would pay users to conserve in the midst of a crisis in order to boost the river’s big reservoirs. How it would work, who would participate and how it would be funded are still unanswered questions. Another concern is how to make the program equitable — so it doesn’t burden one user over another.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Federal government will review Colorado River rules in 2020

Federal water managers are about to start reexamining a 12-year-old agreement among Western states that laid down rules for dealing with potential water shortages along the Colorado River. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he asked the Bureau of Reclamation to start the review at the beginning of 2020, rather than by the end of 2020, which is the deadline under the existing agreement.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Federal government will review Colorado River rules in 2020

Federal water managers are about to start reexamining a 12-year-old agreement among Western states that laid down rules for dealing with potential water shortages along the Colorado River. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he asked the Bureau of Reclamation to start the review at the beginning of 2020, rather than by the end of 2020, which is the deadline under the existing agreement.

Aquafornia news Valley Roadrunner

County Water Authority’s new ag water rate can be traced back to policy of the 1990s

Back in the 1990’s, when water rates started to hurt growers, the Valley Center Municipal Water District helped pioneered a program that gave ag users a special rate in return for their water being subject to interruption. … Recently the San Diego County Water Authority introduced a permanent policy that can trace its lineage directly to Valley Center’s efforts to preserve its growers. 

Aquafornia news U.S. News & World Report

Friday Top of the Scroll: U.S. water chief praises Colorado River deal, sees challenges

States in the U.S. West that have agreed to begin taking less water next month from the drought-stricken Colorado River got praise and a push for more action Thursday from the nation’s top water official. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told federal, state and local water managers that abiding by the promises they made will be crucial to ensuring that more painful cuts aren’t required.

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Aquafornia news MyMotherLode.com

A year later, ‘water grab’ plan settlements still stuck

A year later, issues triggered by a contentious plan by state water regulators to increase unimpaired river flows for the benefit of fish remain firmly mired in red tape.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Can recharge net metering contribute to sustainable groundwater management?

Dr. Michael Kiparsky is the founding director of the Wheeler Water Institute within the Center for Law, Energy, and Environment at the UC Berkeley School of Law. In this presentation from the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Dr. Kiparsky discussed a pilot project in the Pajaro Valley designed to incentivize private landowners to do groundwater recharge.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona will soon start getting less water from the Colorado River

Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will start taking less water from the Colorado River in January as a hard-fought set of agreements kicks in to reduce the risk of reservoirs falling to critically low levels. The two U.S. states agreed to leave a portion of their water allotments in Lake Mead under a deal with California called the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP…

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Golf course, CVWD cooperation key to keeping groundwater control local

There are two things already baked into the desert’s cake guaranteed to inject a bit of what ails the rest of the state — the full flowering of the regulatory scheme mandated by the state’s 2014 Groundwater Sustainability Act and reductions in Colorado River allocations made necessary by a drying Colorado River Basin that is already badly over allocated.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Monday Top of the Scroll: ‘It would mean total annihilation’ – Some farmers sell off fields ahead of groundwater law

Farmers are worried… Some feel angry, even betrayed by lawmakers and the environmental groups that have pressured them into what they see as ever-tightening regulations on the ag industry. While many disagree with SGMA, most do acknowledge that California’s unrestricted groundwater use has been unsustainable.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Q&A with Linda Estelí Méndez Barrientos

In my current research, I have been studying the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, commonly known as SGMA, in California. SGMA is one of the world’s largest-scale policy experiments on collective action to manage natural resources. At the same time, pervasively disparate access to water resources in the Central Valley made SGMA the perfect case study to test some of the power asymmetry theories I have been working on with my colleagues.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Finished Paso Robles groundwater sustainability plan awaits final approval

The 20-year groundwater plan, required by state law, aims to bring the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin back into balance. Between 1981 and 2011, the 684-square-mile aquifer serving 29 percent of San Luis Obispo County residents and 40 percent of its agriculture lost 369,000 acre-feet of water.

Aquafornia news Clean Water Action

Blog: Q&A on groundwater sustainability with Jane Wagner-Tyack of the League of Women Voters

I assumed the different local water agencies were in regular contact with their customers about important issues like groundwater and that they would be happy to take advantage of the opportunity to educate the public about what was happening with SGMA. I learned that that was not the case. This is not a subject that engages people who don’t already have some reason to be concerned about it.

Aquafornia news Del Mar Times

Santa Fe Irrigation District proposes raising rates by 9 percent over three years

The Santa Fe Irrigation District is moving forward with a proposed three-year rate plan that would raise total revenue for the district by 3 percent per year over the next three years, beginning early next year, through rate increases and changes in the district’s rate structure.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Tale of three regions: Study probes drought-forced change in water policies

Aside from advanced economies and Mediterranean climates that sustain long growing seasons, California, Spain and Australia share an intermittent feature that reshapes their overburdened water systems every time it rears its ugly head: drought.

Aquafornia news EurekAlert

News release: A study compares how water is managed in Spain, California and Australia

The study demonstrated the following: big legislative reforms in water management in these three areas have always come about as a consequence of important droughts. … One of the main differences lies in how water ownership is managed and how the market is regulated in this field.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

State tells Napa County to form agency to monitor Napa Valley groundwater

California has told Napa County to form a local groundwater agency to ensure the underground reservoir that nurtures world-famous wine country is being kept in good shape. The county submitted more than 1,000 pages of documents to try to avoid that outcome.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

A case study of the Fox Canyon groundwater market

Sarah Heard is Director of Conservation Economics & Finance with the California chapter of The Nature Conservancy… At the Groundwater Resources Association’s Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Heard gave this presentation on the Fox Canyon Groundwater Market in Ventura County, the first groundwater market since the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news New University

Opinion: Bipartisanship can save the Delta smelt

Lawmakers should balance environmental concerns with concerns for public welfare and economics, rather than completely disregard either issue. Creative legislation allows for more comprehensive solutions to problems.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Water coalition aims to coordinate conservation efforts

The water coalition has been meeting since 2018 and started under the facilitation of Alan Mikkelsen, senior adviser to Secretary of the Interior on water and western resources. … The coalition aims to address challenges to fisheries, water supply, and waterfowl and forest health.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Groundwater plan’s potential adverse impact on ag

When the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority technical and policy advisory committees reviewed a draft sustainability plan, it left many with questions and criticisms. The plan may also leave uncertainty for the valley’s agricultural industry. They face the brunt of the plan’s water sustainability requirements when the plan is implemented…

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Path To sustainability: Workshop covers plan for groundwater

Groundwater in Tulare County, especially in Porterville, has been a hot topic of discussion for quite sometime. As groundwater levels have begun to subside, a viable and woking plan to maintain the groundwater has been state mandated, and the implementation of this plan is set to be put in action by January 31, 2020. But what exactly is the plan, and who is at stake?

Aquafornia news KUNC

New analysis spells out serious legal risk to Colorado River water users

Declining flows could force Southwest water managers to confront long-standing legal uncertainties, and threaten the water security of Upper Basin states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Vacaville joins broader effort for single groundwater sustainability plan

City Council members – sitting as the directors of the Vacaville Groundwater Sustainability Agency – approved a collaboration agreement Tuesday with the other sustainability agencies in the Solano Subbasin in order to keep the groundwater grant funding flowing.

Aquafornia news Elk Grove Citizen

Rural water district holds first election since 1970s

The district’s decades-long election drought occurred as a result of an insufficient number of candidates to require elections. … Changes in the district’s operations led to a greater number of candidates for the recent election. The district’s biggest issue is implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act …

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: SGMA: State Board to introduce streamlined permitting process for groundwater recharge

The streamlined permitting process is an important component of Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation, as it may assist Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in more efficiently obtaining the necessary water rights to divert and recharge water during high flow events.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Pinal County has plenty of water. We just need to prioritize demand

The Arizona Department of Water Resources is working on revising a model based on outdated assumptions and incomplete data that have perpetuated the myth that Pinal County is facing a water shortage. In fact, Pinal County has plenty of water for today, tomorrow and 100 years from now.

Aquafornia news Grist.org

Wind and solar can save the planet — can they save our water supply, too?

Hydropower facilities store water in reservoirs in order to release it in a constant flow and produce energy consistently. If wind turbines and solar panels, paired with battery storage, took the pressure off of these facilities to fill the needs of the grid during a drought, more of that water could be released downstream for agricultural use, preventing further groundwater depletion.

Aquafornia news KUNC

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Historically left out, Colorado River tribes call for more sway in Western water talks

Arizona’s portion of the Drought Contingency Plan became a unique example in the basin of tribal leaders asserting themselves in broader discussions about the river’s management. … With the drought plan done, some tribal leaders say their water rights can’t be ignored any longer.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Groundwater: Deadline nears for completion of local plans

With roughly two and a half months remaining before a state-mandated deadline, local agencies overseeing critically overdrafted groundwater basins are working to finalize sustainability plans as required by a 2014 state law.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Modern Farmer

New spray could help crops hold onto water during droughts

With drought becoming a more frequent and lasting longer, scientists have really been booking it to try to find potential solutions for crops. … A new possibility comes from researchers at the University of California, Riverside, in the form of a chemical that triggers plants to stop growing—and start storing water.

Aquafornia news KEYT

San Luis Obispo County to conduct aerial survey of Paso Basin groundwater

The county of San Luis Obispo announced plans to map the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. … People who live in Creston, Shandon, and Whitely Gardens may see a low flying helicopter towing a large hexagonal frame when work begins.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Gov. Bruce Babbitt: Rural counties should take charge of groundwater

Babbitt spoke at a conference of county supervisors from across Arizona Tuesday, calling for new legislation that would give county officials the authority to manage groundwater. He said while the 1980 law has had “a lot of success” in managing groundwater in urban areas from Phoenix to Tucson, its main flaw has been leaving groundwater pumping unregulated in rural parts of the state.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Colorado River Basin story map highlights importance of managing water below the ground

EDF created an online story map … to provide a more holistic view of groundwater supplies and challenges in the seven-state Colorado River Basin (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming), drawing from recent research. Here are four key highlights from the story map that demonstrate the importance of groundwater and the challenges of groundwater management in the arid West:

Aquafornia news Reuters

Manure, trash and wastewater: U.S. utilities get dirty in climate fight

Nationwide, more than a dozen utilities have started developing renewable natural gas production through partnerships with farmers, wastewater treatment plants and landfill operators, while nine have proposed price premiums for customers who choose it as a fuel, according to the American Gas Association.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Less groundwater likely available

The East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Water Agency is racing the clock when it comes to meeting the state’s requirements by next year but the message is this: Those who use groundwater will have to prepare for the possibility of pumping 10 percent less than they have in the past, beginning as soon as next year.

Aquafornia news TriplePundit

Blog: World’s largest berry company bets big on water stewardship

Growing berries can be a water intensive proposition, with the added challenge that prime growing regions are often located in areas of high water stress: Eighty percent of Driscoll’s acreage globally can be found in California and Mexico, regions which coincide with significant water risks to businesses and the communities in which they operate.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

State letter chides San Luis Obispo County for diminished role of agriculture in groundwater plan

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture called out San Luis Obispo County in a letter expressing concern about irrigated agriculture’s “limited” involvement in crafting groundwater plans over the Paso Robles basin.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Latest Western Water explores potential for managed aquifer recharge to aid California’s groundwater basins

To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Aquafornia news Chico News & Review

Environmental group concerned about domestic wells as farmers propose new groundwater district

Jim Brobeck, water policy analyst for AquAlliance, said the Agricultural Groundwater Users of Butte County may not have the public’s best interests in mind. The priority of farmers, Brobeck said, is to make sure they have water in their wells, not to protect the shallowest portion of an aquifer. Water purveyors, he said, like to “exercise” aquifers and may well do so to the point where the public suffers.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: As groundwater law plows forward, small farmers seek more engagement

Dennis Hutson worries small farmers may not have the resources to adapt to the potentially strict water allocations and cutbacks that might be coming. Their livelihoods and identities may be at stake. “You grow things a certain way, and then all of a sudden you don’t have access to as much water as you would like in order to grow what you grow,” he says, “and now you’re kind of out of sorts.”

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

East Bay water district considers $72 million cattle ranch purchase

The Alameda County Water District is considering shelling out $72 million for a fourth-generation, 50,500-acre cattle ranch — touted as the largest potential land sale in the state — to preserve water quality, officials say. … The N3 Cattle Co. ranch is roughly the size of Fremont. It’s located east of Fremont, Milpitas and San Jose, south of Livermore, and stretches into parts of Alameda, Santa Clara, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Salinas Valley, Marina groundwater plans under public review, at odds

Groundwater management plans have been released for public review by both the Salinas Valley and City of Marina groundwater sustainability agencies … with no agreement between the two agencies in place and California American Water’s desalination project at the center of a dispute.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Multi-million dollar plan proposed to change Kings County groundwater management

Kings County’s groundwater management will begin a 20-year transformation in 2020. Five local groundwater agencies presented more information behind the groundwater sustainability plan in a public outreach meeting Thursday night.

Aquafornia news Voices of Monterey Bay

Opinion: Cal Am looks to the future

While cities on the Monterey Peninsula have been working to address housing needs and the business community is actively looking to create more jobs, there is one component they all need to complete their plans – reliable, drought-proof access to water.

Aquafornia news Western Water

Friday Top of the Scroll: Recharging depleted aquifers no easy task, but it’s key to California’s water supply future

To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Dispute resolution processes: Thinking through SGMA implementation

Building the capacity to resolve disputes and work together is critical for a sustainable water future. However, recent analysis conducted by Water in the West … suggests that alternative dispute resolution processes are rarely used even when included in water management agreements.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Opinion: Protecting our groundwater, and our future

As a berry farmer in Coastal California my entire life, I have been a vocal supporter of groundwater regulation. … We are now seeing the profound risk of losing this critical resource, unless we collectively act soon to preserve groundwater resources for both the next decade and future generations.

Aquafornia news Mother Jones

This ancient fruit holds secrets for how to farm in climate change

Katie Fyhrie, a grower at Cloverleaf Farm in Davis, Calif., worries that the farm won’t be able to keep producing stone fruits—which depend on the timing and duration of winter chill—in the long-term. … With that in mind, Fyhrie and her team have started growing elderberries.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Can dry farming help save California’s vineyards?

California’s most recent drought lasted many long, parched years… There was plenty of suffering to go around, but some vineyards fared less terribly than others—historic parcels east of San Francisco, in Contra Costa County, for example. Planted at the turn of the last century by Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish immigrants, they rely on a technique called dry farming rather than irrigation.

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Next step? Make AZ a strong voice among Colorado River states

We now have an opportunity to build on the successful Arizona process that led to the DCP signing. Arizona is stronger together. And that will serve us well as we work toward the next step – maintaining a stable, healthy Colorado River system as we face a hotter and drier future.

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Blog: Facing the forever drought

California isn’t in an official drought and under mandatory water conservation, but climate change means that saving water is always crucial. That’s why a recent announcement should not go unnoticed: The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District won state approval to deliver recycled water to agricultural and habitat conservation land in the southern part of the county.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Stewardship of wetlands and soils has climate benefits

When you look at a farm, do you think about nutrient rich soils or cover crops growing between rows? When you look at a marsh, do you see the submerged layers of sediment created by years of plant litter piling up? Probably not. But those parts of well-managed agricultural lands and wetlands store a lot of carbon, and that’s increasingly important as climate change is forcing society to consider ways to lower carbon emissions…

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

IWVGA board talks future administrative structure

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority rolled out concepts for an administrative structure that could eventually cement the new agency as an independent entity — should money ever be found to fund them.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California must embrace groundwater management, and expand it

Over the last five years, more than 250 groundwater sustainability agencies have formed to manage groundwater at the local level and dozens of groundwater sustainability plans are in progress. … So what do we still need to make the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act a success?

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: ‘Farming the sun:’ As water goes scarce, can solar farms prop up the Valley?

On the Changala family farm in Tulare County, the past and future are separated by a dirt road and a barbed-wire fence. On the south side sits a wheat field. On the north, a solar farm, built three years ago, sending electricity to thousands of Southern Californians. Alan Changala sees little difference between the two.

Aquafornia news ABC7 News

Bay Area marshes could help slow global warming

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was once one of the lushest marshlands in the state. The peat-rich soil made it an ideal place for some of the state’s first farms to pop up. Today, scientists are hacking their way through thick brush to see if restoring these marshes is a way to reduce carbon dioxide in the air.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California farmers fear ‘catastrophe’ from water restrictions

Starting next January, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will require farmers to gradually rein in the amount of groundwater they pump from their wells. It could devastate the economy of the entire San Joaquin Valley. In a region where agriculture is king — and the ability to extract the water beneath one’s soil has been practically a birthright — a difficult reckoning is coming.

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Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: More Colorado River “grand bargain” buzz

There was more buzz this week at two big Colorado River Basin events about the idea of a “grand bargain” to deal with coming collisions between water overallocation and the Law of the River.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Farmers deal with climate change every day

Most farmers haven’t heard about the recent report from the UN, even though it deals with climate change and land use and features agriculture prominently. But we don’t need to read the science — we are living it.

Aquafornia news Estuary News

Clout and cool science push land-river reconnection

Before all those thousands of miles of levees went in, the Central Valley had one of the West Coast’s largest salmon runs, with a million or more of these mighty fish returning each year. A big reason for the salmon’s suc-cess was that the valley was among the most extensive floodplains in the world.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Study: Inadequate groundwater for current and potential demands in basin targeted by Las Vegas

There is not enough water to support important wetlands and springs in a semi-arid desert ecosystem that straddles the Nevada-Utah border if all permitted and proposed groundwater rights are put to use, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study of the Snake Valley. There also may not be enough groundwater to satisfy the desires of the Las Vegas area, whose water agencies have eyed the valley for decades…

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Eyes in the sky help farmers on the ground

Recent years have brought severe droughts that have forced farmers to become more efficient with water use. With nearby Silicon Valley teeming with the promise of efficiency and data-fueled intelligence, a natural relationship between technology and agriculture has developed.

Aquafornia news ABC30

Drought tolerant crop being studied in the Valley

Big research is happening at the Kearney Agriculture and Extension Center in Fresno County. Sorghum, a crop that looks similar to corn, is under a microscope.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Investment in regenerative agriculture connects the dots between soil and plate

Anthony Myint vividly recalls the moment he encountered the idea that would shift his life’s path. In 2014, the San Francisco chef and his wife and business partner, Karen Leibowitz, visited California carbon ranching pioneer John Wick at Nicasio Native Grass Ranch in Marin County.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

As water sources dry up, Arizona farmers feel the heat of climate change

Farms in central Arizona will soon lose access to Colorado River water, impacting farmers, cities, and Native communities.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: What’s next for the Colorado River? Here’s how Arizona will find out

It didn’t take long for the completion of the Drought Contingency Plan to create value to Arizona and the Colorado River Basin. Its focus on stabilizing Lake Mead and creating incentives to “bank” water in the reservoir already are paying dividends.

Aquafornia news The New Republic

Opinion: The water wars are here

Heather Hansman’s new book Downriver: Into the Future of Water in the West explores the water emergency with remarkable calm and even-handedness. She focuses on a single river, the Green River, where ranchers, frackers, rafters, fishermen, and urbanites all fight for their share of the water, while contending with Byzantine state policies.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Will climate change mean less farming in the West?

The three-year Colorado River System Conservation Pilot Program (SCPP) started out modestly, with just 15 participating farms and ranches the first year, but grew quickly as farmers realized they could earn passive income for changing their irrigation patterns, turning off the water they diverted from the river earlier in the year when it carries more snowmelt, and—in a few cases—fallowing some fields all together.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Opinion: Farms, the environment, and the future of water

If we don’t manage groundwater pumping, levels of groundwater as well as rivers and streams will decline, compromising the wildlife, farms and cities that depend on them. By managing our groundwater with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, we are plugging leaks in the system.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Friant-Kern’s $400 million fix sunk by state legislature

In March, newly-elected Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) proposed a $400 million windfall to finance repairs for the canal under Senate Bill 559… But the bipartisan bill, much like canal it was designed to fix, is sunk — for now. The bill failed to reach the Senate floor for a vote before the Sept. 13 legislative deadline.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Farmers are not to blame for Valley subsidence, but they can help solve it with water

Why do farmers pump the water under their land (which California law clearly states belongs to them) in the first place? Unfortunately, you’ll rarely read the answer to this question in the press, but it is the most important part of the story.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Opinion: Can California water woes be solved?

Can California’s water woes be solved? Some think that all it takes is money, which is exactly what the California Legislature may ask voters in 2020 for in the name of clean drinking water.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

State seeks comment on its Water Resilience Portfolio

In a new effort to balance California’s water needs, Gov. Gavin Newsom has directed state agencies to prepare a water plan known as the California Water Resilience Portfolio that includes “a comprehensive strategy to build a climate-resilient water system.”

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Audio: Using computer models to predict the effect of climate change on groundwater in the West

Utilities typically turn to groundwater to make up for surface water depleted by drought. University of Arizona hydrology professor Laura Condon is using computer models to predict what climate change will do to the availability of groundwater. She is exploring a series of “what if” scenarios on how to respond to water shortages.

Aquafornia news KPFA

Audio: Valley growers pin hopes on far-reaching San Joaquin Valley Blueprint

Valley farmers and water districts will be facing a new reality of pumping less water and are worried about the land that will be taken out of crop production. But the water and agriculture industries are drafting a large-scale plan to fill the gap with more dams and water deliveries from the Delta. Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Audio: The Friant-Kern Canal is sinking. Thirty-mile parallel canal proposed

The Friant-Kern Canal, which delivers water to farms and communities on the east side of the Valley, is literally sinking in some areas due to groundwater pumping. And with one week to go before the California legislature wraps up its 2019 session, many hope the state will help fund the canal’s repair.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Salinas Valley Basin draft plan proposes millions in projects

More than $670 million in water projects … are options under a draft plan for helping get the Salinas Valley Basin to sustainability by 2040. A draft Salinas Valley Basin groundwater sustainability plan includes 13 projects ranging from Salinas River invasive species eradication … to a seawater intrusion barrier using a series of wells to head off saltwater contamination …

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Could wildfires be good for water availability?

Wildfires in California leave behind acres of scorched land that make snowpack formation easier and more water runoff downstream from the Sierra Nevada to basins in the Central Valley, increasing the amount of water stored underground. That’s the finding from researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who discovered that blazes in some parts of the state could result in more water availability.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Dairy lagoon water successfully blended in subsurface drip systems

Using dairy lagoon water to irrigate silage corn is standard practice. Running the thick, nutrient-rich water through subsurface drip systems could someday be just that as two California dairy farms, an irrigation company, and an environmental organization are working together to solve the challenges involved in the water thrifty practice.

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Ukiah’s wastewater no longer being wasted

The city of Ukiah made its first delivery of recycled water through its extensive Purple Pipe system this week, putting about 2 million gallons of water reclaimed from local sinks, showers and toilets into an irrigation pond just south of the Ukiah Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Aquafornia news Tri County Sentry

Groundwater workshop causes concern for Oxnard

Groundwater in Ventura County had a severe talk about reductions as the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency held its fourth workshop about the future. The proposed new plan will commence in 2020 and will start slow but will ramp up and reduce groundwater pumping in the area significantly.

Aquafornia news Fox News

Farmers concerned over how mandatory water cuts from Colorado River will impact agriculture

Nevada and Arizona, concerned that a 20-year drought has dried up much of the river, are trying to rein in water use in an effort to save the disappearing river. The river’s water levels next year are projected to be just below the threshold of 1,090 feet laid out in the Drought Contingency Plan that was signed earlier this year…

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Groups work to restore fish populations

In the Sacramento River near Redding this spring, water districts, government agencies and others collaborated to construct the Market Street Gravel Project to benefit fish. … Reclamation District 108 Deputy Manager William Vanderwaal said that to complete the $429,000 project, 12,000 tons of gravel were placed into the river and developed as new spawning habitat for chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

Aquafornia news Colusa County Sun-Herald

Groundwater authority to host public workshops in Colusa and Glenn counties

The Colusa and Glenn groundwater authorities will host a pair of public workshops about local groundwater conditions and areas of concern in portions of Glenn and Colusa counties…

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Canal plans to bypass subsidence with 30-mile parallel path

As the old saying goes, if you can’t go through something, go around it. And at an estimated cost of $357 million, the Friant Water Authority is contemplating a 30-mile parallel canal to circumvent the portion of the Friant Kern Canal that has been negatively affected by subsidence.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Why SB 1 must ensure that CESA applies to the federal CVP

Now, some are arguing that the bill should be stripped of its longstanding provision applying the State’s own Endangered Species Act to the operations of the federal Central Valley Project. Here’s why that’s a terrible idea.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Hydropower giant Bonneville Power is going broke

The Bonneville Power Administration, the independent federal agency that sells the electricity produced by the dams, is careening toward a financial cliff. BPA is $15 billion in debt, facing a rapidly changing energy market increasingly dominated by wind and solar and a desperate need to maintain aging infrastructure that’s expected to cost $300 million to maintain and upgrade by 2023.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

How a diverse water portfolio may quench the thirst of California’s future water needs

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed an executive order to develop a comprehensive strategy for making the state’s water system climate-resilient. … In a related study published earlier this year, Stanford researchers Newsha Ajami and Patricia (Gonzales) Whitby examined effective strategies to rising water scarcity concerns.

Aquafornia news Time

How to save the Colorado River from climate change & overuse

A few years ago, Paul Kehmeier did something unusual: He decided not to water about 60% of his fields. He was one of a few dozen farmers and landowners in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico who volunteered for a pilot program meant to test out a new water-conservation strategy: Paying farmers to temporarily leave their fields dry, to save the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Payments required for those who pump excess groundwater

Those with wells within the Antelope Valley who pump more groundwater than is allowed under a 2015 court settlement will be required to pay between $415 per acre-foot and $948 per acre-foot to replace the additional water, based on assessments approved Wednesday by the Antelope Valley Watermaster Board.

Aquafornia news KUNC

Can a ‘wild’ river survive in a rapidly drying West?

Finding a river in the West that still behaves like a Western river — one that rises and falls with the annual rush of melting snow — is tough. … But one major Western waterway has achieved almost mythical status for its wildness: the Yampa in northwestern Colorado.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Paso Robles groundwater basin included in high-tech Stanford study

The Paso Robles groundwater basin is one of three basins in the state chosen to participate in a Stanford University study that will deploy state-of-the-art aerial electromagnetic technology to better understand its characteristics.

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley News

State agriculture officials will host public comment session on California’s water future

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture will host a public comment session on California’s Water Future on Thursday, September 5, 2019 in Fresno. … State agencies are asking Californians to help shape a roadmap for meeting future water needs and ensuring environmental and economic resilience …

Aquafornia news Arizona State University

Blog: ASU water policy expert addresses new drought plan for state

ASU Now spoke to Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, about the cutbacks and what they will mean for Arizona’s agriculture and the state’s roughly 7 million residents.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: 30-mile parallel Friant-Kern Canal proposed

Friant Water Authority is conducting geotechnical investigations this summer along the outer banks of the Friant-Kern Canal in southern Tulare County to determine if the soil may support construction of a second canal running parallel to the first. The reason for the research is the capacity of this key, eastside Valley canal has been reduced 60% due to land subsidence caused by years of vigorous groundwater pumping …

Aquafornia news Denver Post

Colorado River water rights debated as climate change depletes supply

Rocky Mountain water managers worried about climate-driven depletion across the Colorado River Basin are mulling a “grand bargain” that would overhaul obligations among seven southwestern states for sharing the river’s water. This reflects rising concerns that dry times could turn disastrous.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Australian Broadcasting Corp.

California looks to Australia for ways to manage its groundwater after worst-ever drought

Farmers, experts and lawmakers are working to find more sustainable ways to droughtproof farms and address the vexed issue of water allocation. And it turns out many farmers and water experts in California are looking to Australia for answers as they face up to the biggest water reforms in the history of the US.

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