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 Sacramento Bee

Opinion: Israel’s water conservative policies far exceed California’s

When Donald Trump referred to the COVID pandemic as a “plague,” he was implying that it was an act of God that couldn’t be blamed on the government. We are now told that the acute water shortage in California is the result of a “drought” that has, once again, lead to water restrictions. This biblical term obscures the responsibility that our local governments bear for this crisis. Countries facing far harsher climates and much scarcer water supply, like Israel, have adopted straightforward policies to avoid such crises. We should learn from their example.
-Written by Ron E. Hassner, the Helen Diller Family chair in Israel Studies and the co-director of the Helen Diller Institute for Israel Studies at U.C. Berkeley.

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Aquafornia news Reuters

‘There’s no water,’ says California farm manager forced to leave fields fallow

Salvador Parra, the manager of Burford Ranch in California’s Central Valley agricultural breadbasket, is worried about the lack of water. California’s worst drought since 1977 has forced Parra to leave fallow 2,000 of his 6,000 acres and dig deep for water to save the crops already planted.

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Lower Russian River flows to be halved under state order to preserve stored supplies

The Sonoma County water agency received permission Monday to immediately cut stream flows in the lower Russian River by more than half in an effort to conserve water stored in Lake Sonoma. Instream flows in the upper river, above Dry Creek, which is fed by releases from Lake Sonoma, already are being maintained at a very low threshold to keep as much water as possible in Lake Mendocino, the smaller of the two reservoirs.

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Aquafornia news NewsChannel 3-12 - Santa Barbara

Central Coast farmers concerned over ‘extreme drought’ conditions happening throughout region

Farmers are concerned for their crops as dry conditions has worsen throughout the Central Coast. Earlier this year, it started off a major storm. Ever since, farmers have not seen much rainfall. According to the National Weather Service, the ‘extreme drought’ conditions has expanded throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County.

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Aquafornia news Ag Net West

First assessments of groundwater sustainability plans released by DWR

The first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans have been released by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). In lieu of waiting until the end of the two-year review period, DWR has decided to release assessments as they are completed. Assessments have been completed for the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin in Santa Cruz County and 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Monterey County. Assessments for the Cuyama Valley Basin and Paso Robles Subbasin have also been completed.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Drought – Mandatory water restrictions approved for 2 million residents of Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County on Wednesday became the most populous county in California to impose mandatory water restrictions, saying that the worsening drought poses a significant threat to the local groundwater supplies that provide nearly half the drinking water for 2 million residents. On a 7-0 vote, the Santa Clara Valley Water District board declared a water shortage emergency and set a target of reducing water use 33% countywide from 2013 levels, a year the state uses as baseline. 

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Aquafornia news KPBS

Rising water costs prompt two North County communities to look for alternatives

A water war is heating up in the North County. Rainbow Municipal Water District and Fallbrook Public Utility District want to leave the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) because of rising costs. They want to join the Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County, a move that could save their customers up to $5 million a year.

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

Drought calls for desperate measures from Northern California farmers

California has seen its share of droughts, but the one happening now is so severe that a longtime dairy farmer has called it quits. … Bob McClure, a 60-year-old fourth-generation rancher of McClure Dairy, which was founded in 1889 and remains on the Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin County, … was already thinking about when he would wrap up operations at the dairy, but his decision to close at the end of May was “truly, truly driven by the threat of running out of water,” he said. 

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Jobs and irrigation during drought in California

During droughts organizations and stakeholders look for ways of getting the most from every water drop. This is not an exception in California where roughly 40 percent of all water use (on average) is agricultural, 10 percent to cities and the rest is uncaptured or environmental uses (mostly on the North Coast). … Yet the notion that applied water in agriculture is often wasteful is common in media drought coverage.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Stop fighting over water long enough to agree on just this

California’s water wars are legendary, complex and ongoing. To avoid getting too far in the weeds, media often boil it down to a dispute over who should have priority to a limited supply of water — people or fish. The real beauty of aerial snow surveys is that it’s one thing that farmers and environmentalists can agree on. 
-Written by Garth Stapley, The Modesto Bee’s Opinions Page editor.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Pinal farmers are facing water shortages. Shouldn’t they be growing less thirsty crops?

Why do Pinal County farmers keep growing alfalfa and cotton, two relatively water-intensive crops, particularly when their water supply is being so heavily cut?  It’s a common question. Most farmers know they need to grow more drought-adapted crops as their Colorado River water evaporates and growing seasons become even hotter and drier.  But farmers can’t plant lower water use crops that they can’t sell. Any crop they grow needs a market. And there are well-established markets for cotton and alfalfa – crops that produce higher yields in central Arizona than in most other places in the world.  
-Written by Joanna Allhands.

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Aquafornia news Press Enterprise

Don Galleano, winery owner and Western Municipal Water District board member, dies

Longtime Western Municipal Water District board member Don Galleano has died. He was 69. Galleano, who died Wednesday, June 2, had served on the Western Municipal Water District’s board of directors since 2004, representing Eastvale, Jurupa Valley and Norco. … He was president of Galleano Winery in the Mira Loma area of Jurupa Valley. His family founded the winery in 1927. As fitting for a winery run by a long-time water board member, the winery does not use irrigation, but practices dry-farming instead, which relies on moisture-retaining soil.

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Aquafornia news KCRA

Farmers facing California drought impacts feel strain of low water supply

California farmers and ranchers are preparing for a difficult growing season as the state faces drought conditions. The California Board of Food and Agriculture met on Tuesday to discuss ways to help farmers and ranchers, as well as to discuss the proposed $5.1 billion included in the governor’s budget to address drought challenges and water infrastructure. After back-to-back dry years, the state’s water supply is strained, forcing farmers like Joe Martinez in Solano County to figure out ways to get the most out of their water.

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Aquafornia news Reuters

‘Big risk’: California farmers hit by drought change planting plans

Joe Del Bosque is leaving a third of his 2,000-acre farm near Firebaugh, California, unseeded this year due to extreme drought. Yet, he hopes to access enough water to produce a marketable melon crop. Farmers across California say they expect to receive little water from state and federal agencies that regulate the state’s reservoirs and canals, leading many to leave fields barren, plant more drought-tolerant crops or seek new income sources all-together. … Stuart Woolf, who operates 30,000 acres, most of it in Western Fresno County … may fallow 30% of his land.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces recipients of $1 million in CALFED Water Use Efficiency grants

The Bureau of Reclamation announced the selection of two California projects to receive $1 million total in CALFED Water Use Efficiency grants for fiscal year 2021. Combined with local cost-share contributions, these projects are expected to implement about $4.7 million in water management improvements during the next two years. The projects will conserve an estimated 1,200 acre-feet per year of water and better manage 8,160 acre-feet…

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Lack of water efficiency funding undercuts fight against drought

With the current drought already impacting over 90 million people in the U.S. and with water scarcity likely to get worse because of population growth and climate change, there is an urgent need to invest in water efficiency. This threat goes well beyond the arid west. Thirty-three states have been hit by drought since 2000, including ones located in the Great Plains, Midwest, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. And scientists warn that most of the country is on pace to experience water shortages if we don’t manage water better.
-Written by Ron Burke, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, and Mary Ann Dickinson, founding president and CEO of AWE. 

Aquafornia news Farm Progress

Blog: Pairing images to intelligence to manage water

One of the challenges of aerial imagery, whether from an airplane or a satellite, is making sense of what you see. What is that image telling you? Ceres Imaging, a California startup with offices in Nebraska and Washington, is using artificial intelligence to answer that question. … Recently, the company issued a publication where it evaluated microdrip irrigation on nearly 1 million acres in California. From that analysis, they learned the value of more precise irrigation management. And while much of that work was in high-value crops, Ceres also works with pivot irrigators in other regions of the country to manage water.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Act: EPA digs into WOTUS talks with enviros, ag

EPA’s Office of Water is kicking off quarterly meetings with agricultural and environmental groups to discuss the thorny issue of which waterways and wetlands qualify for federal protections.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing for fish and wildlife during a dry year in the Sacramento Valley

With the driest year in memory, the water resources managers and landowners in the Sacramento Valley are working hard to serve multiple benefits throughout the region with limited water supplies. This has required all hands-on deck and creative management within the region as all surface water supplies have been significantly reduced, with hundreds of thousands of farmland acres idled throughout the region, urban suppliers working with their citizens to implement various conservation measures to reduce water use and there will undoubtedly be challenges for domestic groundwater wells.

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Aquafornia news Fox KTVU 2

The drought’s assault on California’s $50 billion farm industry

A growing number of drought stricken California farmers are making the painful decision not to plant as much or anything at all for fear of losing it all. It costs a lot of money to put seeds or seedlings into the ground. But if a farmer cannot be reasonably sure of a crop, why do it?

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Zero water allocation pushes Klamath Project farms to the brink

What was already forecasted to be a historically bleak water year in the Klamath Project has quickly become a living nightmare for farms and ranches fighting for survival in the drought-stricken basin. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation shut down the Project’s A Canal for the entire irrigation season May 12 in response to worsening conditions — allotting zero surface water from Upper Klamath Lake for thirsty crops and livestock. It is the first time in more than a century the A Canal will deliver no water. Meanwhile, irrigators are left to wonder how they will pay the bills as fields turn to dust.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Severe drought, worsened by climate change, ravages the American West

Severe drought — largely connected to climate change — is ravaging … the entire Western half of the United States, from the Pacific Coast, across the Great Basin and desert Southwest, and up through the Rockies to the Northern Plains. In California, wells are drying up, forcing some homeowners to drill new ones that are deeper and costlier. Lake Mead, on the border of Arizona and Nevada, is so drained of Colorado River water that the two states are facing the eventual possibility of cuts in their supply.

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Aquafornia news Stanford - Water in the West

New research: New modeling framework guides managed aquifer recharge under climate change

Current and future climate change effects are intensifying the hydrological cycle, leading to increased variability of both precipitation and runoff. This heightened pattern results in more frequent and severe droughts and floods, as well as more recurrent swings between these two extremes. Harvesting floodwaters using managed aquifer recharge to replenish depleted groundwater aquifers can simultaneously reduce flood and drought risks. 

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Irrigation districts look to transfers as water dwindles

With very little water to spare this drought year, water districts struggling with limited or no supplies look to their counterparts in other districts to negotiate water transfers to add whatever flexibility they can. Districts on the west side of the Central Valley, both north and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, face the prospect of receiving no water from the Central Valley Project.

Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Lake Shasta is facing its worst season in 44 years. Here’s what that means for those who rely on it.

Lake Shasta this summer is facing possibly its lowest level in at least 44 years, and that could be bad news for the people who rely on it for drinking and irrigation water, as well as endangered salmon that depend on it to survive. Dam operators have to go all the way back to 1977 to compare how bad this year’s water situation is shaping up to be, said Don Bader, area manager for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the dam. 

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: How unprepared is California for 2021’s drought?

California — already in the clutches of another drought emergency —  is looking over its shoulder at what happened last time, anticipating the worst and evaluating the strategies that worked and those that failed. So is California in a better position to weather this drought? Some things are worse, some better: Groundwater is still being pumped with no statewide limits, siphoning up drinking water that rural communities rely on. In northern counties, residents are reliving the last disaster as water restrictions kick in again, but in the south, enough water is stored to avoid them for now. … The upshot is California isn’t ready — again.

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Aquafornia news Daily Republic

SID directors to consider pipeline replacement options, agencies’ capital plans

Three options for replacing non-reinforced concrete pipelines will be reviewed by Solano Irrigation District directors when they meet Tuesday. The recommended option calls for replacing the entire pipeline over 28 years at a cost of $73 million, using a combination of financing and $2.3 million in annual Rehabilitation and Betterment funding. The proposed 2021-22 Suisun Solano Water Authority Capital Improvement Program is also on the agenda, as is the Gibson Canyon Improvement District Storage and Hardening Capital Improvement Plan for bond funding.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

State plans to order drought restrictions, but it doesn’t have good water data to do it

As California descends deeper into drought, state regulators are planning to do something they’ve done few times in modern history: order thousands of people, farms, and even cities and towns that hold historic water rights to stop drawing water from the rivers, lakes and ponds they rely on. The move is intended to make sure the dwindling flows in California’s waterways are reserved for those with the most senior water rights, as well as for fish and other wildlife. Many of those with lesser rights would have to turn to storage, groundwater or another source, if they have it.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento CBS Local

Folsom Lake levels continue to drop amid drought emergency, push for water conservation

Less than a week after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency for Northern California, Folsom Lake is standing at one of its lowest levels ever. … Ryan Ojakian is with the Regional Water Authority (RWA). Now, there’s a push from the RWA for its 20 water providers that serve about 2 million people in the Sacramento region to shift to using more groundwater than surface water to reduce reliance on Folsom Lake and the Lower American River.

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Aquafornia news KCRA

Running dry: How an olive grower in California has learned to adapt to drought conditions

California’s water supply is critical to the state’s agriculture industry. Up to 80% of table olives come from California, and while olive trees are more drought-tolerant than other crops, that isn’t stopping Northern California olive growers from making significant changes to conserve our most precious resource. Olives are a passion for Dennis Burreson, who says he’s held just about every job with Musco Family Olive Company since joining Musco 43 years ago. 

Aquafornia news YourCentralValley.com

Drought forces California farmers to destroy crops

With the uncertainty of water, some Central Valley farmers are destroying their crops ahead of the summer season in order to survive. It’s impacting jobs and soon possibly the grocery shelves. Every crop at Del Bosque Farms is planted meticulously, and every drop of water is a precious commodity. Joe Del Bosque started the family farm in 1985. He grows melons, asparagus, cherries, almonds, and corn, but the drought brings a flood of concern.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Editorial: Gov. Newsom must resolve California and Stanislaus water wars

Don’t be fooled. Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision Monday to declare drought in most of California, including here, is no reason for most farmers in Stanislaus County to break out the party hats. They know full well that words on a declaration will not generate an extra drop of water for their orchards and row crops. They also know that a drought declaration could take some power over the water we do have from our locally elected irrigation leaders — who represent institutions guiding us through periodic droughts for more than 100 years — and hand it to nonelected Sacramento bureaucrats.

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Aquafornia news Food & Water Watch

Blog: Newsom expands California drought emergency, commits $5.1 billion to water infrastructure and debt relief

Governor Gavin Newsom announced an expansion of the drought emergency to 41 of the state’s 58 counties, dedicating $5.1 billion to boost water infrastructure and an additional $1 billion to paying off nearly the entirety of Californian household water debt. Yet, while the governor’s plan includes $150 million for groundwater cleanup and water recycling measures, it does nothing to speed up the process to bring overdrafted water basins into full and sustainable operation. The deadline is currently 2040 for critically overdrafted basins and 2042 for remaining high and medium priority basins.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Extremely dry conditions spill across the American West

Spring is generally a time of renewal for the watersheds of the western United States. Warmed by the lengthening days, the region’s towering mountain ranges shed their mantle of snow, releasing freshets of water into welcoming streams and reservoirs. This year, though, the cycle is in disarray. Outside of the Olympic and Cascade ranges of Washington state, winter snows were subpar. The spring melt has been a dud. From the Klamath to the Colorado and Rio Grande, watersheds are under stress once again, and water managers face difficult tradeoffs between farms, fisheries, and at-home uses. 

Aquafornia news ABC10.com

New tool lets California well water users see drought impact

The state is facing major water impacts, but for those reliant on water wells — in mobile home parks, rural communities, and areas where water district access is limited — the concern is growing. The Department of Water Resources has created a website that can help those who rely on well water to figure out just how much at-risk they are of a water shortage. The site was created after the last drought, but with California’s drought only recently worsening, it had not been widely used or needed until now. The interactive map allows users to explore their area and keep tabs on their well water situation.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Farmers grapple with implications of water cuts

In water-stressed farming areas of California, farmers removed productive trees and idled other land to divert what little water they have to other crops, as the reality of the 2021 drought became ever more apparent. “We’re removing 15-year-old, prime-production almond trees,” said Daniel Hartwig of Woolf Farming in Fresno County. “We’re pulling out almost 400 acres, simply because there’s not enough water in the system to irrigate them, and long term, we have no confidence that there would be water in the future.” 

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Drought proclamation and infrastructure plan bring focus to managing water in a dry year

California’s water resources managers are proactively working with our various partners through the harshest dry year we have seen in recent memory….  We are encouraged that the Governor’s drought proclamation will bring important focus on our precious water resources and inspire balanced approaches that will allow water resources managers (state, federal and local) to creatively manage our limited water supplies this year for multiple benefits.   

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Gavin Newsom declares drought across much of California

Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded his drought emergency declaration to 39 more counties Monday, underscoring the rapid deterioration of California’s water supply in recent weeks. The governor broadened his earlier drought order, which was limited to two counties on the Russian River, to cover most of parched California, which is plunging into its second major drought in less than a decade. The new order covers the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds, the Tulare Lake basin region and the Klamath region in far Northern California. About 30% of the state’s population is now covered by the declarations…

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute Of California

Blog: Is California ready for drought?

California is now in its second year of drought, hard on the heels of the last one in 2012-16. But drought is not an equal-opportunity crisis; it can be more or less disruptive depending on geography, storage, how water supplies are managed—and, of course, precipitation. And some sectors—notably rural water water systems and the environment—are more vulnerable.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

This is how California’s water use has changed since the last drought

California is in a serious drought. The National Drought Mitigation Center’s drought monitor puts most of the state in extreme drought zones for the first time since 2015. The latest instance of drought has once again put the state’s water use under the microscope to identify opportunities for conservation, a task that’s expected to become more challenging as the impacts of climate change intensify.

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Sonoma County officials to cut pumping from Russian River by 20% amid deepening drought

Sonoma County supervisors are expected to offer their formal support Tuesday for a plan to pump 20% less water than normal from the Russian River for the remainder of the year, preserving dwindling supplies in local reservoirs but making less water available to more than 600,000 consumers in Sonoma …

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Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Napa Valley grape growers say dry year survivable but fear prolonged drought

Most farmers are worried about their crops as they head into the second straight dry year. Vineyard owners say they may be the lucky ones because, at this point, grapes don’t need a lot water — just warm sunshine. That would change with a prolonged drought. … Kendall Hoxsey-Onysko, owner of the Napa Wine Company, is a fifth-generation Napa Valley grape grower and her family knows all about droughts and their impact on the wine industry. Grapevines can thrive without a lot of water but productivity depends on how long the drought lasts.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Bakersfield brewers send suds with a message to State Water Board

Bakersfield raised a brew, literally, to the State Water Resources Control Board on Friday in honor of the Kern River. An iced down package of seven locally made craft beers was delivered to board members as part of the latest outreach effort by Bring Back the Kern, a local group advocating for water to flow through Bakersfield in the Kern River.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield.com

Kern farmers make do under drought conditions

Kern County ag producers are making changes big and small — from redeveloping entire orchards to fine-tuning their irrigation systems — as they try to adjust to worsening drought conditions across the Central Valley. Strategies vary depending on access to water and ability to shift irrigation to different fields. Some landowners are trying to hold onto as much water as they can in case prices rise later in the year.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Klamath, Modoc, Siskiyou county leaders throw support behind Basin ag

At a rare joint meeting between all three of their leadership boards, Klamath, Siskiyou and Modoc Counties discussed ways to support agricultural communities during the Klamath Basin’s historic drought this year. Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Project will receive 33,000 acre-feet of water, less than 10% of their normal allocation, more than a month later than normal. Irrigators on tributaries to the Lower Klamath River, like the Scott River, are also expecting water deliveries to be curtailed during the summer.

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Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

As surface water supplies dry up, California rice growers worry about ripple effect

California’s drought is impacting more than how you water your lawn, but also the way your food is grown on hundreds of thousands of acres in the Sacramento Valley. Growing rice is a multi-billion dollar industry that supports 25,00 jobs. … This year, a third of normal rainfall combined with hot weather and drying winds have [rice farmers] pumping more groundwater than usual and fallowing half his rice fields – meaning Durst won’t plant, and he’s not alone. … Industry leaders say this is the third time in forty years this kind of surface water supply reduction has happened – and it’s happened twice in just the last decade.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: Entire Bay Area has gone from ’severe’ to ‘extreme’ drought levels in just 2 weeks

The drought situation in the Bay Area has officially gone from bad to worse. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the entire Bay Area is now in the “extreme” drought category, along with nearly three-quarters of California. According to the latest summary, precipitation in the state for the water year that began Oct. 1 is well below normal, in the bottom 10th percentile, and the greater Bay Area is “experiencing record or near-record dryness.” 

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Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Crisis on the Klamath

The federal government is strictly curtailing irrigation this year in an attempt to protect endangered fish important to Indigenous tribes. Farmers say this will make it all but impossible to farm, while tribal groups say the plan doesn’t go far enough to save their fisheries. In mid-April, a farming region in southern Oregon began to release water from the Klamath River into its irrigation canals. … [A]ccording to the federal government, it was an illegal maneuver that could further jeopardize the survival of multiple endangered species and food sources important to Indigenous tribes and fisheries in the region.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Garden Highway Mutual Water Company completes fish screen project

In our latest effort to ensure that our water management and farming practices both protect and enhance environmental benefits in our area, Garden Highway Mutual Water Company (Garden Highway) recently completed a project to screen its diversion on the Feather River. This project allows us to protect Chinook salmon and other fish species from entrainment while diverting water year-round to irrigate crops and to provide Pacific Flyway habitat during the fall and winter months. The project was a cooperative effort between Garden Highway, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Bureau of Reclamation U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Family Water Alliance.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Anticipating and addressing the impacts of the drought

California’s current drought is already off to a strong start, with some major challenges already looming just two years in. Compared to the drought of 2012‒16, the normally wetter Sacramento and North Coast regions have been hit much harder than the rest of the state. Beyond the local challenges this poses, drought in the Sacramento region is already having statewide implications, given its key role in supplying water to farms and cities further south. 

Aquafornia news California Farm Bureau

Blog: President’s message – Water investments would help to assure essential farming jobs

One thing that’s been re-emphasized, time and again, during the pandemic travails of the past 14 months: Farming is essential. During the coming few months, as California struggles through another drought, we’ll learn whether our elected and appointed public officials feel the same way. [A]n overarching, long-term problem needs to be solved to make sure farm employees can not just work safely, but can have jobs, period: water supplies.

Aquafornia news Comstock's magazine

Regenerating our soil

Regenerative farming practices integrate the entire ecosystem — building upon the relationships of the natural world — to simultaneously produce healthier, more abundant crops and restore the Earth’s natural resources. …  And restoring soil health and fertility produces more abundant, nutrient-dense crops that better resist pests and disease. It increases soil’s ability to filter and store water, reduce erosion and sequester carbon. And it builds a diversity and abundance of microbes that drive every function of soil.

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Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: Installing solar panels over California’s canals could yield water, land, air and climate payoffs

Climate change and water scarcity are front and center in the western U.S. The region’s climate is warming, a severe multi-year drought is underway and groundwater supplies are being overpumped in many locations. … About 4,000 miles of canals transport water to some 35 million Californians and 5.7 million acres of farmland across the state. Covering these canals with solar panels would reduce evaporation of precious water – one of California’s most critical resources – and help meet the state’s renewable energy goals, while also saving money.

Aquafornia news Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Northern California winemakers shift practices amid drought emergency

Following a winter with extremely low levels of rain, the area’s main sources of irrigation water, Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma, are in short supply. Drought conditions are not new for local growers, unfortunately. Many continue to adjust their viticultural practices to adapt to the ever-changing climate. … New plantings will have more spacing between rows to facilitate wider cross-arms, which will help promote shading … drought-tolerant rootstocks that are more capable of establishing deeper root systems quicker … 

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Aquafornia news Arizona Central

Arizona preparing for cutbacks on Colorado River water amid drought

With the Colorado River’s largest reservoir just 38% full and declining toward the threshold of a first-ever shortage, Arizona water officials convened an online meeting this week to outline how the state will deal with water cutbacks, saying the reductions will be “painful” but plans are in place to lessen the blow for affected farmers next year. Lake Mead’s decline is expected to trigger substantial reductions in water deliveries in 2022 for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. The largest of those cuts will affect Arizona, slashing its Colorado River supplies by 512,000 acre-feet, about a fifth of its total entitlement.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Central Valley lawmakers push emergency drought declaration

More than a dozen Central Valley lawmakers and elected officials met on Friday to declare a regional drought emergency and urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to do the same statewide. Three state senators and three Assembly members joined the chairs of the boards of supervisors from Fresno, Madera, Tulare and Kings counties in a bipartisan news conference at Harlan Ranch in Clovis to call for action that the group said is necessary to divert a crisis.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

From dust bowl to California drought: a climate scientist on the lessons we still haven’t learned

California is once again in a drought, just four years after the last dry spell decimated ecosystems, fueled megafires and left many rural communities without well water. Droughts are a natural part of the landscape in the American west, and the region has in many ways been shaped by its history of drought. But the climate scientist Peter Gleick argues that the droughts California is facing now are different than the ones that have historically cycled through the Golden State.

Aquafornia news Ag Information Network Of The West

Blog: Nasdaq Veles California water index

As water allocations are slashed due to low supplies, what options do farmers have? California Farm Water Coalition executive director Mike Wade says thousands of acres are likely to go fallow, but better solutions are needed. One tool that has just been created this past year is the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index. But Wade says it’s still too early to tell if this is truly going to be effective in helping growers manage their risk.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle:

This beloved Marin winery is shutting down, citing California’s drought and climate change

After 21 vintages of making wine from far-coastal Marin County, Pey-Marin Vineyards is coming to an end. Wineries rarely close down entirely; more often, when an owner wants out, they sell. But Jonathan Pey, who founded Pey-Marin Vineyards with his late wife, Susan, in 1999, said that the extreme conditions of west Marin farming have simply gotten too punishing, in part due to climate change.  

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Cutbacks in water for central AZ farmers expected

Arizona may be facing its first official declaration of water shortage next year, a move that would trigger water cutbacks of 512,000 acre-feet — almost 20% of Arizona’s Colorado River entitlement — affecting mainly agricultural users.  The 24-Month Study on the Colorado River system, released this month by the Bureau of Reclamation, projects that in June water levels in Lake Mead will fall below 1,075 feet for the first time, which would put the state in a Tier 1 shortage.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 Los Angeles

Worms help power Valley winery’s wastewater system

Worms are helping a [San Joaquin] Valley winery on its path to becoming more green. Olympic-sized swimming pools at O’Neill Winery are actually beds filled with worms helping the company become greener. … The technology allows the company to take about 80 million gallons of processed water and clean it. O’Neill Winery is the seventh-largest winery in California. They produce wines and spirits sold around the United States.

Aquafornia news Vice Magazine

‘Everyone Loses’: The government is rationing water at the California-Oregon Border

Along the Oregon-California border, the Klamath River Basin is a crucial water source for Indigenous tribes, endangered species, and farmers. This year, though, there is simply not enough to go around.  The Western US is enduring another major drought, and the Klamath River Basin is at a historic low. This resulted in different groups being forced to compete and make their case for why water, now precious and scarce, should be diverted to their needs. It’s a stark reminder of the tough, no-win decisions that citizens will continue to face amid the worsening climate crisis. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As drought deepens, California farmers see grim future

As yet another season of drought returns to California, the mood has grown increasingly grim across the vast and fertile San Joaquin Valley. Renowned for its bounty of dairies, row crops, grapes, almonds, pistachios and fruit trees, this agricultural heartland is still reeling from the effects of the last punishing drought, which left the region geologically depressed and mentally traumatized. Now, as the valley braces for another dry spell of undetermined duration, some are openly questioning the future of farming here, even as legislative representatives call on Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a drought emergency.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: Drought brings threat of dry wells in San Joaquin Valley

Thousands of wells that bring water to San Joaquin Valley homes are at risk of drying up this summer, leaving families without running water for drinking, cleaning and bathing. While no one knows the extent of the threat from this second year of drought conditions, Jonathan Nelson with the Community Water Center says “the alarm bells are sounding.” Homes, farms and entire communities that rely on shallow wells as their only source of water are vulnerable to declining groundwater levels from dry conditions and agricultural pumping.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The Sacramento River – Ridgetop to river mouth multi-benefit water management

The dry year and reduced flows in the Sacramento River System are challenging the ability for water resources managers to serve water for cities and rural communities, farms, wildlife refuges, fish and recreation. Part of the challenge has been the inordinate focus on temperature management in the upper part of the river below Shasta Lake. As we have all seen countless times before, a focus on one species or in this case one aspect (temperature) of water management is not a path forward for the long-term, successful recovery of salmon…

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Newsom declares drought emergency – but only for Sonoma and Mendocino counties

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday declared a drought emergency for Sonoma and Mendocino counties, but resisted calls to issue a statewide proclamation — at least for now. Newsom’s emergency order primarily affects communities and water districts in the Russian River watershed, which includes the cities of Santa Rosa, Ukiah and Sebastopol. Some 360,000 people live in the area. 

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Can dryland farming help California agriculture adapt to future water scarcity?

Large areas of California farmland, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley, face future restrictions on groundwater pumping to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. We talked to Caity Peterson—an adjunct fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center and a consulting agroecologist—about a joint research project* on the potential for dryland farming to reduce the amount of land needed to be retired from production to balance water budgets.

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Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Changes to Shasta water release designed to protect salmon

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will begin releasing warmer water from the upper layers of the Shasta Reservoir directly into the Sacramento River to maintain flows, while saving colder water for the winter-run Chinook salmon migration.

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Aquafornia news KUNC

With first-ever Colorado River shortage almost certain, states stare down mandatory cutbacks

The Colorado River’s biggest reservoirs are likely to drop to historically low levels later this year, prompting mandatory conservation by some of the river’s heaviest users. The latest Bureau of Reclamation reservoir projections, which take into account river flows in a given year, show a likelihood that Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada stateline will dip below the critical threshold of 1,075 feet in elevation in May and remain below that level for the foreseeable future. A first-ever official shortage declaration from the Department of the Interior is almost certain later this year.

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Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

New front in Santa Barbara County’s pot wars

Santa Barbara County’s most depleted water basin, the Cuyama Valley, is fast becoming the latest battleground in the fight over how — and whether — to address the negative impacts of the lucrative cannabis industry on farming and residential communities. The giant groundwater basin underlying this sparsely populated, heavily farmed, economically depressed valley is one of California’s 21 most critically over-drafted basins and the only one outside the Central Valley. 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Epic drought means water crisis on Oregon-California border

Hundreds of farmers who rely on a massive irrigation project that spans the Oregon-California border learned Wednesday they will get a tiny fraction of the water they need amid the worst drought in decades, as federal regulators attempt to balance the needs of agriculture against federally threatened and endangered fish species that are central to the heritage of several tribes. Oregon’s governor said the prolonged drought in the region has the “full attention of our offices,” and she is working with congressional delegates, the White House and federal agencies to find relief for those affected.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Creating a place for nature in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley’s quest for groundwater sustainability will result in large amounts of irrigated agricultural lands being retired. A new book explores how some of these lands could be restored to natural areas that bring multiple benefits. We talked to Scott Butterfield, a senior scientist at The Nature Conservancy and one of the book’s editors, about this vision.

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

IID decides to stand pat on Abatti’s Supreme Court petition

Imperial Irrigation District apparently has decided not to sweat Michael Abatti’s decision to appeal his case against the district to the nation’s highest court. IID announced Monday it will not file a response to Abatti’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court over his ongoing legal dispute with the district over water rights. The exception would be if the court requests a response. IID General Counsel Frank Oswalt said in a press release that a response is unnecessary.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: Failure to prepare deepens the pain from dry years

It’s that time of year, when we find out it’s that kind of year. We appear at the doorstep of a “critically dry year,” and most reservoir levels are significantly below average. Those conditions bring painfully to mind the awful drought years of 2014 and 2015, and threaten water supplies for California farms and cities, and for the protected fish species that must also get by in these lean years.
-Written by Danny Merkley, director of water resources, and Chris Scheuring, senior counsel for the California Farm Bureau.

Aquafornia news KOLD News 13

Extreme conditions now sparking drought contingency plan for first time

Extreme drought conditions throughout the West are lowering levels in the crucial water reservoir, Lake Mead. Scars of long years of low precipitation are hard to go unnoticed at Lake Mead, and the hot, dry summers have been felt for the last several years in Arizona. 2020 was especially dry, with little monsoon. Now, the West is in uncharted territory. Lake Mead is projected to drop by several feet this year, from elevation 1,083 to about 1,068, according to officials with the Central Arizona Project. The lake is hovering around 39 percent of its full capacity.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Blog: Southern California water price jumps 48% in 3 weeks as rainy season disappoints

Californians received a double dose of not so happy water news last month; cutbacks were made to water allocations and a key water price index surged higher. … The state’s Department of Water Resources has wasted no time in sounding alarm bells; officials have already announced 50 percent cutbacks from December 2020’s projected water allotments to State Water Project allocations for the 2021 water year. California residents were warned “to plan for the impacts of limited water supplies this summer for agriculture as well as urban and rural water users.”

Aquafornia news CBS News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Western U.S. may be entering its most severe drought in modern history

[S]ome scientists [are] saying the region is on the precipice of permanent drought. That’s because in 2000, the Western U.S. entered the beginning of what scientists call a megadrought — the second worst in 1,200 years — triggered by a combination of a natural dry cycle and human-caused climate change. In the past 20 years, the two worst stretches of drought came in 2003 and 2013 — but what is happening right now appears to be the beginning stages of something even more severe. And as we head into the summer dry season, the stage is set for an escalation of extreme dry conditions, with widespread water restrictions expected and yet another dangerous fire season ahead.

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Aquafornia news UC San Diego News Center

New research: Scientists map “pulse” of groundwater flow through California’s Central Valley

Groundwater is a key resource for water users in California’s Central Valley, a major agricultural hub with an economic output of tens of billions of dollars annually. Surface deformation in the Central Valley has long been linked to changes in groundwater storage, but the timing and movement of water flow beneath the surface has been poorly understood due to a lack of reliable data. Now, for the first time, scientists at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and School of Global Policy and Strategy, as well as the U.S. Geological Survey are using advanced satellite data to map the “pulse” of groundwater flow through the San Joaquin Valley, the southern portion of the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Taiwan’s drought pits chip makers against farmers

Chuang Cheng-deng’s modest rice farm is a stone’s throw from the nerve center of Taiwan’s computer chip industry, whose products power a huge share of the world’s iPhones and other gadgets. This year, Mr. Chuang is paying the price for his high-tech neighbors’ economic importance. Gripped by drought and scrambling to save water for homes and factories, Taiwan has shut off irrigation across tens of thousands of acres of farmland. … Officials are calling the drought Taiwan’s worst in more than half a century. And it is exposing the enormous challenges involved in hosting the island’s semiconductor industry, which is an increasingly indispensable node in the global supply chains for smartphones, cars and other keystones of modern life. Chip makers use lots of water to clean their factories and wafers, the thin slices of silicon that form the basis of the chips. 

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Markets, water availability prove key in land values

Despite market unknowns created by the pandemic and lower commodity prices, California agricultural land values remained largely stable, an indication buyers have confidence in the long-term land market in the state: This was a key takeaway from a virtual business conference held by the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. The conference also discussed impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act on California land values. Even though record supplies of the state’s highest-value crops led to lower prices for farmers last year, appraisers said the softer prices also helped move those products. 

Aquafornia news ABC30 Action News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California legislators want Gov. Newsom to declare state of emergency over water ‘crisis’

California’s hottest commodity could become even more scarce as state and federal officials announce water cutbacks on the brink of another drought. Now, state legislators are banding together to ask Governor Newsom to declare a state of emergency amid what they call a water crisis. … [State Senator Andreas] Borgeas authored a letter alongside the Assembly agriculture committee chair and several other state lawmakers to send to the governor. This comes after the California Department of Water Resources announced a 5% allocation to farmers and growers in late March.

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Aquafornia news Ingrained

Podcast: Moving forward in a dry year

Tractors are working ground in the Sacramento Valley, as the 2021 rice season is underway. Whether it’s farmers, those in cities or for the environment, this year will pose challenges due to less than ideal rain and snowfall during the fall and winter. Jon Munger At Montna Farms near Yuba City, Vice President of Operations Jon Munger said they expect to plant about one-third less rice this year, based on water cutbacks. As water is always a precious resource in this state, rice growers work hard to be as efficient as they can. Fields are precisely leveled and will be flooded with just five-inches of water during the growing season. Rice is grown in heavy clay soils, which act like a bathtub to hold water in place. High-tech planting and harvest equipment also help California rice farms and mills operate at peak efficiency.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California is on the brink of drought – again. Is it ready?

California is at the edge of another protracted drought, just a few years after one of the worst dry spells in state history left poor and rural communities without well water, triggered major water restrictions in cities, forced farmers to idle their fields, killed millions of trees, and fueled devastating megafires. … Just four years since the state’s last drought emergency, experts and advocates say the state isn’t ready to cope with what could be months and possibly years of drought to come.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Agencies: Arizona farmers should expect less water in 2022

State officials are putting farmers in south-central Arizona on notice that the continuing drought means a “substantial cut” in deliveries of Colorado River water is expected next year. A joint statement issued Friday by the state Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Project said an expected shortage declaration “will result in a substantial cut to Arizona’s share of the river, with reductions falling largely to central Arizona agricultural users.” The Central Arizona Project is an aqueduct system that delivers Colorado River water to users in central Arizona and southern Arizona, including farmers, cities and tribes.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

California Dreaming: Farmers, scientists sustainably getting by with less water

Water covers 71% of the earth’s surface, but only about 3% percent of it is fresh water, making it the planet’s most precious resource. But what do you do when water is in danger of going dry? California’s Central Valley is no stranger to drought, and because of that, farmers and scientists are joining forces to figure out how to get by with less.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Deal to help fish threatened by federal agencies

Water releases designed to benefit the critical outmigration of juvenile salmon on the Stanislaus River as well as assist farms and communities along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley already starting to suffer the effects of two consecutive dry years is languishing in the federal bureaucracy. Up to 100,000 acre feet is proposed to be released that belongs to the South San Joaquin and Oakdale irrigation districts that would provide a critical impulse flow from April 15 to May 15. That water based on measurements at Vernalis south of Manteca where the Stanislaus River joins the San Joaquin River would significantly improve the survivability of the threatened salmon.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Michael Abatti asks U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case against IID

The fight between Imperial Valley farmer Michael Abatti and the Imperial Irrigation District over control of the district’s massive allotment of Colorado River water could be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court if Abatti gets his way. He and his lawyers have announced that they have petitioned the nation’s highest court to take up the litigation that has dragged on since 2013….Abatti is seeking to have the country’s apex court hand control of IID’s water over to landowners, a move that would leave most of the valley’s water with a few larger agricultural operations.

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Aquafornia news Galt Herald

Groundwater status, plan discussed at meeting

Seven agencies that have been working together to sustain the groundwater in the Cosumnes Subbasin, which includes the communities of Galt, Herald, Wilton and Rancho Murieta South, held a workshop March 24. The presentation was intended to help residents understand how groundwater will be used in the next two decades in the Cosumnes Subbasin. The group has until Jan. 31, 2022 to submit its plan to the state on how it intends to meet its target of replacing 20,000-acre feet per year (AFY) in underground basins called aquifers to sustain the groundwater. One of the takeaways from meeting is the plan will cost $2.25 million in the early years. 

Aquafornia news University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources

Report: The first SGMA groundwater market is trading – The importance of good design and the risks of getting it wrong

A groundwater market, which caps total pumping within one or more basins, allocates portions of the total to individual users and allows users to buy and sell groundwater under the total cap, is a promising tool for basins implementing California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). … [G]roundwater markets can be a useful tool for achieving basin sustainability, but they are not a good fit for every basin or groundwater sustainability agency (GSA). … The Fox Canyon groundwater market benefitted from the four enabling conditions (water scarcity, fixed allocations, agricultural stakeholder support, and capacity and funding) described below.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Ag land values rely heavily on water availability

California agricultural land values that are rising and falling the most are doing so under the perception of water availability – no surprise there. This is putting farmland in the Fresno Irrigation District (FID) in a positive light as that agency has done a good job over the years managing conjunctive use of irrigation water.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

No movement on groundwater protection bills

Arizona’s 1980 Groundwater Management Act established pumping regulations in the state’s most populous areas but set no such limits on rural parts of the state. In recent years, some rural areas have come under increased pressure from agricultural pumping that has dropped groundwater levels dramatically. … Lawmakers introduced several bills in the current legislative session to regulate or provide more options for managing the state’s groundwater. One would have banned most new wells in the Upper San Pedro and Verde Valley river basins. Another would have set spacing limits for new wells in areas that are overdrawn. Another, introduced by Rep. Regina Cobb of Kingman, would have given county supervisors the power to establish groundwater limits or regulations in their area. 

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Abatti files petition with U.S. Supreme Court

Imperial Valley grower, landowner, and former elected official Michael Abatti has filed a petition for “writ of certiorari” with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District’s decision in Abatti v. Imperial Irrigation District, according to a press release from Abatti and his legal team. Michael Abatti, Imperial County farmer Abatti is seeking to overturn a previous appellate court ruling that asserts Imperial Irrigation District is the “sole owner” of water rights in the Valley, and farmers do “not (have) an appurtenant water right” but rather are entitled merely to “water service” that is subject to modification by the district at its discretion, the press release states.

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

Northern California farmers turn to ‘regenerative agriculture’ for conserving water, growing healthy crops

Another advantage to “feeding” the soil in a region plagued with persistent drought involves the tremendous water savings. … With below-average precipitation in California, its reservoirs are showing the impacts of a second dry year. Lake Oroville stands at 55% of average and Lake Shasta, California’s largest, now stands at 68%. Most eco-conscious activists agree that, with the climate’s changing patterns that lead to decreasing water supplies and die-offs of pollinators, a lot more needs to be done to help keep our water and food supplies plentiful. 

Aquafornia news O’Melveny

Blog: California Court of Appeal upholds subordination of dormant groundwater rights

Last week, the Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District of California issued a long-awaited decision in the Antelope Valley Groundwater Cases, resolving a dispute more than two decades in the making. The case adjudicated groundwater rights in the Antelope Valley Adjudication Area (AVAA) in northern Los Angeles County and southeast Kern County. The adjudication, which commenced in 1999, involved private water suppliers, public agencies, the federal government, and overlying landowners who pump water for agricultural, industrial, commercial, and domestic uses. Although currently unpublished, the court’s opinion illustrates several important developments in California groundwater law.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Strong state oversight needed to ensure California’s wetlands are protected

When the first European explorers arrived in California’s Central Valley, they found a vast mosaic of seasonal and permanent wetlands, as well as oak woodlands and riparian forests. What remains of those wetlands are still the backbone of the Pacific Flyway; along with flooded agricultural fields, they support millions of migrating waterbirds each year. According to a just-released study from Audubon, tens of millions of land birds rely on the Central Valley as well… But today, the situation is dire. More than 90% of wetlands in the Central Valley – and throughout California – have disappeared beneath tractors and bulldozers. 
-Written by Samantha Arthur, the Working Lands Program Director at Audubon California and a member of the California Water Commission.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Water shortages and fires loom after a dry winter

The lack of rain and snow during what is usually California’s wet season has shrunk the state’s water supply. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water as it melts over the spring and summer, is currently at 65 percent of normal. Major reservoirs are also low. Two state agencies warned last week that the dry winter is very likely to lead to cuts in the supply of water to homes, businesses and farmers. The federal Bureau of Reclamation also told its agricultural water customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to expect no water this year.

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Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Opinion: SLO should advance plan to pipe reclaimed water to Edna

A water project that would generate revenue, make wise use of reclaimed water and preserve large tracts of open space in the city of San Luis Obispo was first made public over 10 years ago. Since then, the city has made no progress on the proposal to allow Edna Valley landowners to reuse some of the city’s treated wastewater to irrigate vineyards and other agricultural crops. Surplus water already could be assisting growers in Edna Valley, which is an important part of the city’s greenbelt. 
Written by Neil Havlik, who served as San Luis Obispo’s natural resources manager from 1996 to 2012.

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

California water officials tell communities to prepare for potential water shortages

An extra dry summer with potential for water shortages – that’s what state and federal officials are telling Californians to prepare for. Predictions for 2021 are bleak. Lake levels are low and the Sacramento region is not getting the spring showers many hoped for. According to the US drought monitor, most of the Central Valley is experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions. This week the Department of Water Resources lowered its expected forecast of water deliveries made to cities and farms by half. But any conservation restrictions would be up to local authorities.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Valuing water in the Sacramento Valley: Celebrating World Water Day

With World Water Day this week and the dry year emerging throughout the Sacramento Valley, we take this moment to reflect on the value of water as we cultivate a shared vision in the region for a vibrant way of life. We encourage you to watch and read the following vignettes that all showcase the value of water.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Water use in California

California’s water use varies dramatically across regions and sectors, and between wet and dry years. With the possibility of another drought looming, knowing how water is allocated across the state can make it easier to understand the difficult tradeoffs the state’s water managers must make in times of scarcity. The good news is that we’ve been using less over time, both in cities and on farms. While there are still ways to cut use further to manage droughts, it won’t always be easy or cheap to do so. California’s freshwater ecosystems are at particular risk of drought, when environmental water use often sees large cuts. Watch the video to learn how Californians use water.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

State warns of possible water shortages

California farmers relying on State Water Project water were warned Monday to prepare for potential shortages by reducing water use and adopting practical conservation measures.

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Aquafornia news Ecowatch

Blog: Installing solar panels over canals could save gallons of water

Installing solar panels over California’s network of water canals could save the state an estimated 63 billion gallons of water and produce 13 gigawatts of renewable power every year, according to a feasibility study published in Nature Sustainability. California moves more water than any other system in the world, with 75% of the state’s available water in its northern third and the southern two-thirds accounting for 80% of the state’s demand. Covering the canals with solar panels would reduce evaporation by shading the canals from the sun (along with the co-benefit of reducing canal-choking plant growth) and the cooling effects of the water could boost solar panel efficiency.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

Monday Top of the Scroll: Drought is the U.S. West’s next big climate disaster

Much of the U.S. West is facing the driest spring in seven years, setting up a climate disaster that could strangle agriculture, fuel deadly wildfires and even hurt power production. Across 11 western states, drought has captured about 75% of the land, and covers more than 44% of the contiguous U.S., the U.S. Drought Monitor said.  While drought isn’t new to the West, where millions of people live, grow crops and raise livestock in desert conditions that require massive amounts of water, global warming is exacerbating the problem — shrinking snowpack in the Rocky Mountains and extending the fire season on the West Coast.

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Aquafornia news The Pioneer

The bane of water guzzling agriculture

[A] study has ascertained that indiscriminate exploitation of groundwater is resulting in sinking of land worldwide. … According to a report by The Guardian, countries like India, China and Mexico are rapidly draining groundwater to meet their food demands. Agriculture is at the forefront of excessive exploitation of groundwater. … In California, USA, where 80% of pure water is used for irrigation of cultivated crops, about one million acres of agricultural land is used for growing alfalfa as a fodder crop, which is exported to China. An article in the New York Times has expressed concern that the US exports one billion gallons of water to China as alfalfa per year.

Aquafornia news National Geographic

As the U.S. faces an uncertain water future, millions of Americans are coming together to conserve water

Witnessing the devastating effects of drought in rural California and India at the age of 11 spurred Shreya Ramachandran to action. She devoted years to researching the reuse of grey water—lightly used water from sinks, showers, and laundry—and painstakingly tested the environmental safety of organic detergents. The nonprofit Ramachandran founded, the Grey Water Project, has inspired thousands of people to build their own “laundry to lawn” grey water systems. Now a high school senior, she’s collaborated with several California water agencies and the United Nations Global Wastewater Initiative, and created a grey water curriculum for elementary students to show them that small actions can make a big difference.

Aquafornia news Gizmodo

Putting solar panels on California canals could solve two crises

A new analysis finds that covering water canals in California with solar panels could save a lot of water and money while generating renewable energy. Doing so would generate between 20% and 50% higher return on investment than would be achieved by building those panels on the ground. The paper, published Thursday in Nature Sustainability, performs what its authors call a techno-economic analysis, calculating the impacts and weighing the costs and benefits of potentially covering the thousands of miles of California’s open irrigation system.

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

Further arguments loom in Klamath re-quantification ruling

An Oregon judge has agreed to hear further legal arguments over his ruling that tribal water rights in the Klamath basin must be re-quantified. Because the judge’s legal opinion from last month hasn’t yet been reduced to an order, that means the Klamath tribes can enforce their water rights to shut off irrigation in the meantime.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Projects throughout the Western United States receive $42.4 million in grants from Reclamation to conserve and use water more efficiently

The Bureau of Reclamation is awarding $42.4 million in grants to 55 projects throughout 13 states. These projects will improve the water reliability for these communities by using water more efficiently and power efficiency improvements that water supply reliability and generate more hydropower…. In California, near the Arizona border, the Bard Water District will receive $1.1 million to complete a canal lining and piping project. The project is expected to result in annual water savings of 701 acre-feet, which will remain in the Colorado River system for other uses.  

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Understanding the California water futures market

California has recently established a water futures market that has brought with it some criticism as well as confusion. As the first of its kind in the country, it will function similarly to futures markets for other commodities. The market will allow water users to lock in a particular price they are willing to pay for water. This new futures market is entirely different from water markets that allow the purchasing of water allocations.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

New director appointed to Kern County Water Agency

Longtime family farmer Laura Cattani was appointed to the board of the powerful Kern County Water Agency during a special meeting on Monday. She is the second woman to serve on the board of directors in the 60-year history of the agency. Cattani will bring much needed diversity to the board, several directors said during Monday’s meeting, not only because she’s a woman, but also for her age. Cattani is 39.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

New director appointed to Kern County Water Agency

Longtime family farmer Laura Cattani was appointed to the board of the powerful Kern County Water Agency during a special meeting on Monday. She is the second woman to serve on the board of directors in the 60-year history of the agency, which is the second largest contractor on the State Water Project. Cattani will bring much needed diversity to the board, several directors said during Monday’s meeting, not only because she’s a woman, but also for her age. Cattani is 39.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

This wildlife refuge is drying up. An anonymous rancher wants to save it.

A unique deal between ranchers and wildlife advocates may at long last bring a reliable water supply to Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge — and the wetlands and birds that depend on it. Since it was largely drained in the early 20th Century, the mosaic of wetlands formerly known as Lower Klamath Lake has relied on water from the Klamath Irrigation Project to grow food and provide suitable habitat for millions of migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway each year. Wetlands in the Klamath Basin support nearly 80% of the Pacific Flyway’s migratory waterfowl during the spring and fall.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Judge rules against LADWP in irrigation fight

A judge has ordered the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to continue providing historic quantities of irrigation water to lessees of its pasturelands east of Yosemite, despite the agency’s assertion that climate change is making water resources in the Sierra Nevada watershed increasingly unreliable.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

‘We’re getting hit left and right’: Dwindling salmon runs to restrict 2021 commercial season

Dwindling Chinook salmon runs have forced the Pacific Fishery Management Council to shorten the commercial salmon fishing season. The Sacramento Valley fall-run Chinook salmon runs are projected to be half as abundant as the 2020 season while the Klamath River fall Chinook abundance forecast is slightly higher than the 2020 but is still significantly lower than the long-term average. During a press briefing on Friday morning, John McManus President of the Golden State Salmon Association said the added restrictions will deal a blow to commercial fishermen.

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Aquafornia news Comstock's Magazine

Women in Leadership: Mary Paasch

In the Capital Region, water determines destinies. The 10-county area is both plagued by drought and one of the country’s most at-risk regions for catastrophic flooding. The physical existence of Sacramento and surrounding cities and the viability of the region’s heavily irrigated agriculture depend on water resources engineers like Mary Paasch. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Celebrating National Groundwater Awareness Week in the Sacramento Valley

As we celebrate National Groundwater Awareness Week, the Northern California Water Association (NCWA) convened its groundwater management task force this week to help coordinate the various Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) in the Sacramento Valley and to advance groundwater sustainability throughout the region. 

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications

Farm Hands West: Michael reelected to San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority Board

Cannon Michael has been reelected as chairman of the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority Board and Keith Murfield has announced his retirement as CEO of the United Dairymen of Arizona.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Editorial: Newsom should kill plan to drain state reservoirs

On the tail end of the second dry winter in a row, with water almost certain to be in short supply this summer, California water officials are apparently planning to largely drain the equivalent of the state’s two largest reservoirs to satisfy the thirst of water-wasting farmers. Gov. Gavin Newsom must stop this irresponsible plan, which threatens the environmental health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the water supply for about one-third of the Bay Area residents. We should be saving water, not wasting it. 

Aquafornia news Drovers

The return of California red-legged frogs

The effort to return [California red-legged] frogs to Southern California, which had been ongoing by Robert Fisher from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative Program for more than 20 years, began to move the needle in San Diego County when Winchell started working with private ranchers Judy and Chuck Wheatley who had just restored a pond on their property for the reintroduction of the Western pond turtle. … The species was decimated by disease and invasives, and disappeared from San Diego County in 1974 and western Riverside County in 2001. 

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Opinion: Russian River environment – Save water as if your life depends on it

Those of us in the water industry are always looking for new ways to ask our customers to save, conserve, and never waste water. And we do that for good reason. We live in a region prone to regular periods of drought, punctuated by sudden and catastrophic floods. Last year we had a very dry year, and this water year is off to a very dry start as well. Sonoma Water, which supplies drinking water to 600,000 residents in Sonoma and Marin counties, relies on rainfall to fill our reservoirs and consecutive years of below-average rainfall are always cause for concern. Will this be a two-year dry spell, or the beginning of a multi-year drought?
Written by Barry Dugan, Senior Programs Specialist in the Community and Government Affairs Division at Sonoma Water.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Critical water year on tap for Klamath Basin

If 2020 was a difficult water year for the Klamath Basin, then 2021 is likely to be even more challenging. With record-low inflows coming into Upper Klamath Lake, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation anticipates it will not have anywhere near enough water this summer to meet minimum requirements for endangered fish — let alone enough water to meet irrigation demands for farmers and ranchers. Jeff Payne, deputy regional director for the bureau, said the basin in Southern Oregon and Northern California appears to be entering a second consecutive year of extreme drought, exacerbating what was already a critical situation.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation selects Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency grant recipients totaling $1.65 million

The Bureau of Reclamation announced the selection of Semitropic Water Storage District and Bard Water District as the two recipients of the Agricultural Water Use Efficiency Grant Program for fiscal year 2020. Combined with Natural Resources Conservation Service support and local cost-share contributions, approximately $5 million in water efficiency improvement projects will be implemented during the next two years. The AWUE program works with NRCS to promote district-level improvements to increase on-farm water use efficiency and conservation projects. Reclamation is funding the two projects with NRCS support.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications

Crowfoot calls for patience with voluntary agreements

Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said the Delta flows issue has been decades in the making and “it’s going to take some time to figure this out.”

Aquafornia news HortiDaily

Blog: Will California remain leader in U.S. agricultural production?

[A] new 18-chapter book, written by agricultural economists at UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Riverside, addresses issues such as labor, water, climate and trade that affect all of California agriculture. … Water, climate and trade pose challenges and opportunities for California agriculture. In the last decade, water scarcity and decreased water quality, along with regulations to address these issues like the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, have prompted farmers to use scarce water to irrigate more valuable crops, as with the switch from cotton to almonds. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California’s wet season nears an end with big concerns about drought

A disappointingly dry February is fanning fears of another severe drought in California, and cities and farms are bracing for problems. In many places, including parts of the Bay Area, water users are already being asked to cut back. The state’s monthly snow survey on Tuesday will show only about 60% of average snowpack for this point in the year, the latest indication that water supplies are tightening. With the end of the stormy season approaching, forecasters don’t expect much more buildup of snow, a key component of the statewide supply that provides up to a third of California’s water.

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Aquafornia news YES! Magazine

Reclaimed water could be the solution to farming in a drier future

On a Saturday in late October, Carolyn Phinney is hip-deep in a half-acre of vegetables, at the nucleus of what will one day be 15 acres of productive farmland. … The patch is a wealth of herbs, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, kale, winter squash, and zucchini. So much zucchini—fruits the size of bowling pins hidden under leaves as big as umbrellas. “Zucchini plants are supposed to be 30 inches across. Ours are 8 feet,” she says. “Everything looks like it’s on steroids.” Phinney is the farmer behind CoCo San Sustainable Farm of Martinez, California, a farm built on reclaimed land, using reclaimed water, and started with a simple mission: to get kids to eat more vegetables.

Aquafornia news Kenwood Press News

Four new groundwater monitoring wells

While the county’s Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) has been monitoring groundwater through residential and commercial wells volunteered for the program since 2017, four new wells specifically designed to capture a broad range of information will soon be expanding the available data. The Sonoma Valley Fire District approved the installation of the first of four new groundwater monitoring wells on a small piece of their property on Felder Road, just off Arnold Drive. It is expected to be producing results by this year.

Aquafornia news Far Eastern Agriculture

Follow the Food: Can agriculture overcome its own water problems?

For centuries, farmers have found ingenious ways of making the best of the water available, but access to fresh water is becoming more and more unpredictable. Extreme weather events and drought is as much of a threat, as flash flooding in farms and food producers. … In California’s Central Valley, a region that produces a quarter of the USA’s food and relies mostly on water pumped from underground, to irrigate the crops, is fast running out of its water supply. 

Aquafornia news Globe Newswire

News release: U.S. legal cannabis water use to almost double by 2025

New Frontier Data, the premier data, analytics and technology firm specializing in the global cannabis industry, in partnership with Resource Innovation Institute and the Berkeley Cannabis Research Center, releases Cannabis H2O: Water Use and Sustainability in Cultivation. The report provides an in-depth look at water usage in the regulated cannabis cultivation market and how its use compares to the illicit market and traditional agricultural sectors. … The report reveals that the cannabis industry uses significantly less water than other major agricultural crops in California.

Aquafornia news BBC News

Extinction: Freshwater fish in ‘catastrophic’ decline

Conservation groups said 80 species were known to have gone extinct, 16 in the last year alone. Millions of people rely on freshwater fish for food and as a source of income through angling and the pet trade. But numbers have plummeted due to pressures including pollution, unsustainable fishing, and the damming and draining of rivers and wetlands. The report said populations of migratory fish have fallen by three-quarters in the last 50 years. Over the same time period, populations of larger species, known as “megafish”, have crashed by 94%.

Aquafornia news Vanderbilt University

Blog: Evidence suggests climate whiplash may have more extremes in store for California

Vanderbilt paleoclimatologists using pioneering research have uncovered evidence of ancient climate “whiplash” in California that exceeded even the extremes the state has weathered in the past decade. Their findings present a long-term picture of what regional climate change may look like in the state that supplies the U.S. with more than a third of its vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts.

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Aquafornia news KMPH

Lack of rain could potentially impact crops in the Central Valley

Crops are now blooming here in the San Joaquin Valley, which marks the beginning of harvest season for farmers. As a drier-than-usual wet season continues to unfold, many are worried about how current drought conditions will impact this year’s crop.

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Aquafornia news Grist, with Water Solutions Network

Blog: A dam good example of collaboration on California water issues

The largest dam removal in United States history is set to take place along the Klamath River by 2023, but getting to this point was neither easy nor quick. Water management, especially in densely populated and water-scarce places like California, is a challenge from practically every aspect: ownership and operations of water infrastructure, local politics, maintenance costs, and sustainability concerns.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

Despite discrimination and drought, Punjabi Americans farm on

On a bright February morning, Kulwant Singh Johl, a third-generation Punjabi American farmer, checked the rain gauge in front of his neat stucco home in Northern California’s Yuba-Sutter area. Gusts and drizzles had battered his peach orchard nonstop for a week, but it still wasn’t enough to quench the recent drought. … And indeed, the intensifying drought could devastate livelihoods of many multigeneration Punjabi American farmers in California. This year, many may have to sell their hard-earned farm plots and leave an industry that they hold in high esteem.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Colorado River study means it’s time to cut water use now, outside experts say

Less water for the Central Arizona Project — but not zero water. Even more competition between farms and cities for dwindling Colorado River supplies than there is now. More urgency to cut water use rather than wait for seven river basin states to approve new guidelines in 2025 for operating the river’s reservoirs. That’s where Arizona and the Southwest are heading with water, say experts and environmental advocates following publication of a dire new academic study on the Colorado River’s future. The study warned that the river’s Upper and Lower basin states must sustain severe cuts in river water use to keep its reservoir system from collapsing due to lack of water. That’s due to continued warming weather and other symptoms of human-caused climate change, the study said.

Aquafornia news University of California Ag & Natural Resources

Blog: Growers and researchers refine date palm irrigation

California’s $86 million date industry produces more than half of the nation’s dates. Most of the fruit is grown in the arid Coachella Valley. Despite efforts by growers to conserve water, data was lacking on date palms’ actual water use to refine the best irrigation management for the crop until a recent research project led by Ali Montazar, UC Cooperative Extension irrigation and water management advisor for Imperial and Riverside counties.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: California’s climate change future is being written – in its waterways

Much like COVID-19 is changing our election practices and day-to-day business operations, climate change could change your water rights, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. In the past, I have eluded to the shift from historical facts used for analysis and forecasting to a fear-based guessing game that allows an unelected bureaucracy backed by a one-party-rule elected body to usurp your property rights.
-Written by Wayne Western, Jr. the Sun’s Agriculture Pulse contributor, writing on the San Joaquin Valley’s agricultural community and water issues. 

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Western water conference goes virtual

A western water conference that draws national speakers each year — and normally draws Basin irrigators to Reno for the weekend — is being held virtually this Thursday and Friday due to COVID precautions. The Family Farm Alliance conference, organized in part by Klamath Falls-based executive director Dan Keppen, is themed “A Bridge over Troubled Water” this year. The alliance advocates for irrigated agriculture in 17 western states, including in Oregon.

Aquafornia news Growing Produce

Labor and water dominate California fruit growers’ concerns

Growers all over the U.S. are concerned about labor, and those in the Golden State are no exception. The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) announced the results of their “Top Issues Survey” for 2021, and labor- and water-related issues were prominently featured. CFFA members were recently surveyed to rank the top issues for the association to focus its efforts on this year.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield.com

Local ag looks to spotlight its climate-friendly profile

The Kern County Farm Bureau issued a “call to action” this week asking local growers and ranchers to participate in a series of upcoming meetings that will influence the role California’s agricultural lands will be expected to play, or continue to play, in fighting climate change.

Aquafornia news AZ Central

Bills to safeguard groundwater in rural Arizona face opposition

On sunbaked farmlands where alfalfa and corn grow alongside pistachio orchards and grapevines, pumps hum as wells draw water from underground and send it flowing to fields. The agriculture business around Willcox depends entirely on groundwater. And groundwater here, like most other rural areas across Arizona, remains entirely unregulated.

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Aquafornia news Ag Information Network of the West

Understanding the water consumption of treenut orchards

Tools such a SWIIM–which stands for Sustainable Water and Innovative Irrigation Management–provides a new standard in water measurement that allows growers to receive an accurate accounting of the water both delivered and consumed by their orchards. … And, of course we are talking about SGMA, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: To counter the worsening drought, California needs healthy soils

California is in the early stages of a severe multi-decadal drought, exacerbated by the climate crisis. As Dan Walters pointed out in his recent commentary, we must move quickly to prepare for water shortages and wildfires. A potent strategy to improve the state’s water storage capacity involves an ancient technology so ubiquitous that it is often overlooked: soil. The urgency of California’s drought and wildfire risks require that we invest in soil health now.
-Written by Ellie Cohen, CEO of The Climate Center, and Torri Estrada, executive director of the Carbon Cycle Institute.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Diversifying water supplies includes aquifer recharge

Bracing for potentially a second consecutive year of dry conditions, California water officials, farmers and researchers participating in an irrigation conference discussed recharging aquifers with stormwater and increased water efficiency among ways to diversify the state’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Updates to conservation easements strengthens protection for farmlands, grasslands and wetlands

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday released the final rule for its Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, or ACEP, which enables agricultural producers and private landowners to protect farmlands, grasslands, and wetlands with conservation easements. The rule updates ACEP as directed by the 2018 Farm Bill and incorporates public comments made on an interim rule.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Water America’s crops challenge

Reclamation maintains and operates over 8,000 miles of water distribution systems that use, among other means, reservoirs and canals to store and deliver water. Water lost to seepage reduces the efficiency of the water delivery to the users and can cause undermining/erosion, subgrade soil migration, adverse vegetation growth, and even canal failure….This prize competition seeks innovative solutions that can reduce the costs and burdens associated with installation and maintenance of seepage reduction methods, and improve durability in a range of climatic conditions.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Building resilience for cities and farms with water partnerships

Moving from competition to cooperation can help solve water problems facing farms in the San Joaquin Valley and cities in Southern California, and better prepare both for a changing climate. At a virtual event last week, PPIC research fellow Alvar Escriva-Bou summarized a new PPIC report showing how cooperative investments in new supplies and water-sharing agreements can help address both regions’ needs.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: Can Newsom end California water wars now that Trump is gone?

Shortly after taking office two years ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom promised to deliver a massive compromise deal on the water rushing through California’s major rivers and the critically-important Delta — and bring lasting peace to the incessant water war between farmers, cities, anglers and environmentalists. … [C]oming to an agreement as promised will require Newsom’s most artful negotiating skills. He’ll have to get past decades of fighting and maneuvering, at the same time California is continuing to recover from the worst wildfire season in modern state history and a pandemic that has since killed more than 42,000 state residents.

Aquafornia news American Rivers

Blog: Walker watershed meadow restoration projects

During the summer of 2020, American Rivers and partners completed the restoration of three small meadows in the Upper West Walker River Watershed. The meadows – Upper Sardine, Lower Sardine, and Cloudburst – are located at around 8,500 feet in elevation on the east side of Sonora Pass in the Eastern Sierra. Historic land use, especially unregulated grazing, resulted in degradation in these three meadows. Heavy grazing can result in soil compaction and erosion that can be self-perpetuating. When meadows are degraded, they are less resilient and therefore more prone to further damage.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

In California, a warming climate will help a voracious pest—and hurt the state’s almonds, walnuts and pistachios

California almond farmers enjoyed record-breaking harvests over the last five years, after production dipped in the wake of 2014’s historic drought. That year a chorus of headlines vilified almonds for sucking up a gallon of water per nut, though irrigation efficiency has been improving.  Now, as global temperatures rise, a caterpillar barely the size of a paper clip may threaten California’s position as the world’s leading producer of almonds, walnuts and pistachios. 

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Updated analysis could alter Klamath water supplies

A detailed analysis released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation could change its approach in operating the Klamath Project in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

Aquafornia news Kingsburg Recorder

Valadao introduces critical California water legislation

U.S. Representative David G. Valadao introduced the Responsible, No-Cost Extension of Western Water Infrastructure Improvements, or RENEW WIIN, Act, a no-cost, clean extension of operations and storage provisions of the WIIN Act (P.L. 114-322). 

Aquafornia news Pagosa Daily Post

Opinion: Drain Lake Powell, not Colorado farms

Experts agree the amount of water in the Colorado River basin has declined because of drought and climate change, and that population growth is fueling demand for water higher and higher. One result is the level of Lake Powell in Arizona, behind Glen Canyon Dam, has steadily declined and is now at 43% of capacity. Further, just last week, the U.S. Dept of Interior sounded an alarm that they may have to start draining other reservoirs in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming to try and “save” Lake Powell. 
-Written by Daniel P. Beard, former commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and Gary Wockner, director of Save The Colorado.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Central Coast water regulation raises concerns

Farm groups say a proposed regulatory permit known as the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program for Central Coast agriculture, which regulates waste discharge from irrigated lands throughout the Central Coast, would make it more difficult for farmers to achieve the desired results, while harming the region’s agricultural economy.

Aquafornia news Globe Newswire

News release: $2M seed funding round empowers AQUAOSO to further its water risk mitigation tool set for agricultural lenders and landholders

According to the U.S. Intelligence Community Assessment of Global Water Security, by 2030 humanity’s “annual global water requirements” will exceed “current sustainable water supplies” by 40%, highlighting the importance of building a water resilient future.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles ends free water deal for Long Valley ranchers

Since the early 1920s, the Long Valley plains east of Yosemite have inspired comparison to a rustic Western paradise … Much of this great, green expansiveness, however, owes to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which aggressively purchased land and water rights here more than a century ago. The department’s routine annual deliveries of free surplus water to its tenants have helped sustain ranching operations and habitat for many decades. But that relationship is now at risk of ending, and could carry dire consequences for one of California’s most striking and violently formed landscapes.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation's Western Water

Monday Top of the Scroll: In the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, two groundwater sustainability agencies try to find their balance

Across a sprawling corner of southern Tulare County snug against the Sierra Nevada, a bounty of navel oranges, grapes, pistachios, hay and other crops sprout from the loam and clay of the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater helps keep these orchards, vineyards and fields vibrant and supports a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy across the valley. But that bounty has come at a price. Overpumping of groundwater has depleted aquifers, dried up household wells and degraded ecosystems. The land is literally sinking…

In the Heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Two Groundwater Sustainability Agencies Try to Find Their Balance
WESTERN WATER SPECIAL REPORT: Agencies in Fresno, Tulare counties pursue different approaches to address overdraft and meet requirements of California’s groundwater law

Flooding permanent crops seasonally, such as this vineyard at Terranova Ranch in Fresno County, is one innovative strategy to recharge aquifers.Across a sprawling corner of southern Tulare County snug against the Sierra Nevada, a bounty of navel oranges, grapes, pistachios, hay and other crops sprout from the loam and clay of the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater helps keep these orchards, vineyards and fields vibrant and supports a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy across the valley. But that bounty has come at a price. Overpumping of groundwater has depleted aquifers, dried up household wells and degraded ecosystems.

Aquafornia news KCRW

To understand food waste, follow a California strawberry along the supply chain

Nearly half of food grown in the United States gets thrown out. More food is tossed once it reaches a household fridge than at any other point in the supply chain. With every strawberry that doesn’t get eaten comes the wasted water to grow it, the wasted gas to transport it, the methane it emits while it rots, and crowded landfills.

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Colorado’s ornery, independent water guardians finally agree on one thing: Wall Street can look elsewhere

The calls came in shortly after the story in The New York Times announced Wall Street was on the prowl for “billions in the Colorado’s water.” …  The national story raised hackles across Colorado. It defined agriculture as a “wrong” use of Colorado River water and detailed a growing swarm of investors eager to inject Wall Street’s strategies into the West’s century-old water laws. The idea of private investment in public water has galvanized the state’s factious water guardians. 

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Farmers’ planting plans hinge on water, pandemic

As California farmers weigh decisions on what to plant and how much, lack of rainfall so far this winter has further clouded a 2021 crop outlook already complicated by market uncertainties created by the pandemic. With current precipitation levels looking even drier than the 2014-15 drought years, Kings County farmer Brian Medeiros said he’s already making decisions about what ground to fallow. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Budgeting for agricultural sustainability and resiliency

Governor Newsom’s proposed budget includes funds for agricultural programs designed to build climate resilience and support farmers’ financial resilience and water security. We talked to Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) about progress on such programs, and what’s on the horizon.

Aquafornia news Arizona PBS

Pascua Yaqui win water funds, first of $150 million for Arizona projects

Pascua Yaqui Council members called it “a blessing” Tuesday. They were talking about $900,000 in federal funds that will be used to bring water to the tribe’s lands for irrigation, the first fruits of a successful effort last year by members of the state’s congressional delegation to win $150 million in federal funding for water projects around the state. … The money comes from an Army Corps of Engineers fund dedicated to water infrastructure projects in Arizona. Under the bill, local governments can enter into agreements with the corps for water, wastewater treatment, environmental restoration and other projects. 

Aquafornia news PV Magazine USA

Drought conditions could impact power generation in the West

Ongoing drought in parts of the West could trigger water conservation measures across seven states this year. It would mark the first time that cutbacks outlined in drought contingency plans drafted two years ago have been put in place. Everything from hydroelectric power generation to agricultural production to the bubbling fountains at Las Vegas casinos could be impacted. Impacts on hydro generation could have ripple effects across the Southwest, including solar and energy storage.

Aquafornia news Colusa Sun Herald

Virtual workshop planned about Well Monitoring Pilot Program

The Colusa and Glenn Groundwater Authorities will host an online workshop about a Well Monitoring Pilot Program the agencies are implementing.  The voluntary, non-regulatory program will gather information about groundwater use in the Colusa Subbasin while also providing participants with near-real time access to information on well production and groundwater levels at their wells, according to a press release. 

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Coalition seeks water funding in infrastructure bill

Describing federal investment in Western water management as “essential,” a coalition of more than 200 organizations has urged the incoming Biden administration and the new Congress to include water facilities in any future infrastructure or economic-recovery package. The coalition, including a number of national and regional organizations plus farm groups and water districts from 15 states, sent separate letters last week to President-elect Biden and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate. The letter included specific recommendations for the types of water investments the coalition said could have the greatest impact.

Aquafornia news EcoWatch

Research: Shifting tropical rain belt will increase food insecurity

A study published Monday found billions more could face food insecurity as Earth’s tropical rain belt shifts in response to climate change, causing increased drought stress and intensified flooding. … Researchers at the University of California, Irvine and other institutions analyzed how the tropical rain belt would respond to a future where greenhouse gas emission continued to rise through 2100, UCI News reported. Their findings, published in Nature Climate Change, revealed the rain belt will shift northward over the Eastern Hemisphere, impacting countries in southeastern Africa.

Aquafornia news BenitoLink

Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Rudy Salas introduce legislation to maximize benefits of Sustainable Groundwater Management requirements

On Jan. 15, State Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Rudy Salas introduced Assembly Bill 252, which if approved would help alleviate the impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) on farmers and ensure that farmland taken out of production due to SGMA is reused to provide conservation, recreation, or other benefits to local communities. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Managing groundwater overdraft – combining crop and water decisions (without salinity)

California’s Central Valley produces much of the nation’s food, including about 40% of the country’s fruits and nuts and has the nation’s second most pumped aquifer system. Its drier southern portion, the San Joaquin Valley, has decreasing surface water supply reliability due to frequent and prolonged droughts, stricter environmental regulations, and growing competition among water users. Many farmers pump groundwater to provide their unsupplied water demand. The resulting groundwater overdraft has numerous impacts on the Valley’s agriculture and residents.

Aquafornia news Sourcing Journal

Experts dispel popular cotton statistics, say more context is needed

Throughout his research, Simon Ferrigno has seen the statistic range from 2,000 to 20,000 liters of water needed to make a T-shirt. Instead of numbers, Ferrigno said the focus should be on whether or not the water that’s used in the process can be cleaned and repurposed for other needs. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Celebrating Healthy Soils Week in the Sacramento Valley

The California Department of Food and Agriculture and more than twenty partners are hosting Healthy Soils Week 2020 to highlight the importance and multiple benefits of soil health on the farm to the ecosystem. The leaders in the Sacramento Valley have fully embraced nature-based solutions as called for by Governor Newsom in his October 7 Executive Order and healthy soils are important for population health and multi-benefit water management.

Aquafornia news Eos.org

Can satellites fill gaps in agricultural water monitoring?

Agriculture uses more of Earth’s freshwater than any other sector, primarily for crop irrigation. In places where water is scarce, policymakers are eager to regulate water usage and incentivize more conscientious practices. Key to advancing these goals, however, is accurately measuring how much water farmers are using. 

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Water districts get millions for conservation projects

Five Tulare County water districts received a portion of $1.6 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture this month to help farmers better conserve water resources.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Liquid gold on tribal land

With its Séka Hills olive oil, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation [in Northern California’s Capay Valley] is reclaiming its ancestral land with a crop for the future. … Wherever possible, the tribe uses sustainable farming practices, and has received several grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service for water and rangeland conservation…

Aquafornia news Grist.org

This entrepreneur is plugging the world’s drinking water into the (digital) cloud

Now based in California, 39-year-old engineer and entrepreneur Meena Sankaran is working to make water cleaner and more reliable — by making it smarter. Using sensors and analytic tools, Sankaran’s startup KETOS provides real-time monitoring of both water usage and quality, alerting, say, a farmer to a leak, or a municipality to a contaminant.

Aquafornia news WineBusiness.com

How four green medal award-winning wineries and vineyards are ramping up sustainability efforts

All of these wineries focus on energy efficiency, water use efficiency, soil and nutrient management, pest management, biodiversity and wildlife conservation. They participate in sustainable certification programs such as the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing program. For each, sustainability involves an ongoing process of evaluation and improvement.

Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

District plan offers ideas for spending on water projects after tax passage

As the Colorado River District looks to quickly put newly approved tax revenues to work on Western Slope projects, an implementation plan offers some examples of the kind of work it expects to pursue… The district plans to use 14 percent of the new revenues to shore up its finances… The rest is to be used to partner with others on projects focused on agriculture, infrastructure, healthy rivers, watershed health and water quality, and conservation and efficiency.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Madera groundwater plan accepted by state

The public can finally get a look at how Madera officials plan to correct severe groundwater over pumping and replenish aquifers in that area. For some farmers, that correction will mean pumping limits of up to 50 percent from what’s allowed today.

Aquafornia news Writers on the Range

Opinion: A move toward water speculation

There’s a concept called “demand management” in the news in Colorado, and here’s a simple definition: Landowners get paid to temporarily stop irrigating, and that water gets sent downstream to hang out in Lake Powell. It’s an idea long talked about because of increasing drought and the very real danger of both Lake Mead and Lake Powell dropping into “dead pool” where no hydropower can be generated.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Improving water resilience for cities and farms with water partnerships

The San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California are worlds apart in many ways. Yet each face growing water challenges and a shared interest in ensuring reliable, affordable water supplies to safeguard their people and economies. Both regions’ water futures could be more secure if they take advantage of shared water infrastructure to jointly develop and manage some water supplies.

Aquafornia news UC Merced

News release: Precision ag project would help farmers measure plant moisture

Determining how much water each section of a field needs is a cumbersome process that requires people to hand-pluck individual leaves from plants, put them in pressure chambers and apply air pressure to see when water begins to leak from the leaf stems. … UC scientists are developing a robotic pressure chamber that can harvest its own sample leaves and test them on site, immediately, to provide the freshest data.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Groundwater: Desert valley plan could price farms out of business

Two lawsuits against a Kern County groundwater sustainability agency show the potential implications for agriculture and other businesses with historic, overlying water rights….”It’s one of the first groundwater sustainability plans we’re seeing that could wholly restrict agriculture in a water-poor area, while ignoring overlying rights and preferring other, non-agricultural users in the basin,” [the California Farm Bureau Federation's Chris] Scheuring said.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Groundwater: The charge to recharge needs to be data driven

In the world of groundwater recharge, not all dirt is created equal. 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 AgAlert

Executive order aims to conserve land, biodiversity

A new California Biodiversity Collaborative will help determine how to carry out an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom aimed at conserving 30% of California’s land and marine areas by 2030—and agricultural organizations said they would participate to assure the collaborative recognizes stewardship efforts carried out on the state’s farms and ranches.

Aquafornia news 9news.com

$1 million research project tracking agricultural water savings

If certain hay species retain more nutrients than others when on low-water diets, then ranchers know their cattle will continue to eat well as they evaluate whether they can operate their ranches on less H20…. Any water saved could be left in the Colorado River, allowing it to become more sustainable, even as the West’s population grows and drought becomes more intense.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

What’s green, soggy and fights climate change?

Protecting intact peatlands [such as those in California] and restoring degraded ones are crucial steps if the world is to counter climate change, European researchers said Friday. In a study, they said peat bogs, wetlands that contain large amounts of carbon in the form of decaying vegetation that has built up over centuries, could help the world achieve climate goals like the limit of 2 degrees Celsius of postindustrial warming that is part of the 2015 Paris agreement.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California governor calls for protecting 30% of state land and waters

Newsom, who made the announcement in a walnut orchard 25 miles outside of Sacramento, said innovative farming practices, restoring wetlands, better managing forests, planting more trees and increasing the number of parks are all potential tools. The goal is to conserve 30% of the state’s lands and coastal waters in the next decade as part of a larger global effort.

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Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Keeping food on the table when water is scarce is a balancing act. This new app will help

In the western United States, crops and natural landscapes consume the greatest portion of water supplies. However, tracking that consumption is surprisingly complex and expensive… A recently announced web application called OpenET aims to fill this gap for farmers and water managers to build more resilient water supplies…

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Water year starts with concerns about La Niña

Despite little precipitation and a small snowpack in the 2020 water year, which ended Sept. 30, California weathered the year on water stored in reservoirs during previous years’ storms. Going into 2021, farmers note that weather officials predict a La Niña climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which has brought drought conditions in the past.

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Companies provide farmers with water-efficiency data

New technologies intend to help farmers translate a mountain of detailed soil moisture and weather data into informed irrigation decisions to use water most efficiently, while maintaining detailed information to satisfy regulators.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Nursing salmon on flooded farms

In 2012 a team of salmon researchers tried a wild idea: putting pinky-sized Chinook on a rice field in the Yolo Bypass, a vast engineered floodplain designed to protect the city of Sacramento from inundation. … Now, after nearly a decade of testing fish in fields, a new paper in San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science outlines lessons learned as well as next steps in managing floodplains for salmon.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

OpenET project expands availability of water data

Eyes in the sky and clouds on the ground—of the computing kind—may soon help farmers, ranchers and water managers gain a handle on something they can’t see: water vapor.