Topic List: Agriculture

Overview

Agriculture

California has been the nation’s leading agricultural and dairy state for the past 50 years. The state’s 80,500 farms and ranches produce more than 400 different agricultural products. These products generated a record $44.7 billion in sales value in 2012, accounting for 11.3 percent of the US total.

Breaking down the state’s agricultural role in the country, California produces 21 percent of the nation’s milk supply, 23 percent of its cheese and 92 percent of all grapes. The state also produces half of all domestically-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables, including some products, such as almonds, walnuts, artichokes, persimmons and pomegranates, of which 99 percent are grown in California.

Overall, about 3 percent of employment in the state is directly or indirectly related to agriculture.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: New maps show how little is left of West Coast estuaries

The study, published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS One, documented dramatic decreases in wetland habitat around San Francisco Bay, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and nearly 450 other bays, lagoons, river deltas and coastal creek mouths throughout the West.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Odor advisory issued for Salton Sea area; hydrogen sulfide leads to rotten-egg smell

Hydrogen sulfide is associated with the natural processes occurring in the Salton Sea, a non-draining body of water with no ability to cleanse itself. Trapped in its waters are salt and selenium-laden agricultural runoff from surrounding farms, as well as heavy metals and bacterial pollution that flow in from Mexico’s New River, authorities said.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Goleta Water District updates permit to sell recycled water to ag users

The Goleta Water District has updated its recycled water permitting so it can now sell to agricultural customers, although not many of them are interested in buying.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Surviving the next drought: It’s political in California’s Central Valley

With the last drought in the rearview and the next one inevitable, the damaging run on groundwater has state water agencies and lawmakers mulling whether to spend hundreds of millions to patch up a federally owned canal. But critics say doing so would amount to a clear bailout for the state’s largest farmers.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Meadowbrook, Searles Valley Minerals protest groundwater model

In light of the recent groundwater modeling scenarios generated by Indian Wells Valley Water Groundwater, some stakeholders in the basin have pushed back, including Searles Valley Minerals and Meadowbrook Dairy.

Aquafornia news National Public Radio

California’s largest legal weed farms face conflict in wine country

In June, Kathy Joseph learned that the fungicide she has been spraying on her grapes for decades could be drifting onto the cannabis. Unlike food crops, cannabis can’t be sold if there’s any trace of fungicide or pesticide in it, according to state law. So while the county investigates, she’s using a more expensive and far less effective spray on the grapevines that are nearest to the cannabis farm.

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Desperate for new water supplies, San Luis Obispo County bets on cloud-seeding program

With $300,000 already set aside by Zone 3 of the San Luis Obispo County Flood and Control Water Conservation District, cloud-seeding airplanes could fly over Lopez Reservoir as soon as January.

Aquafornia news California Ag Today

Turning up heat on more dam storage

GAR Tootelian, a major agricultural chemical company, and Families Protecting the Valley are rolling up their sleeves to put up several hundred road signs calling for action to build more dam storage and the message is simple: Dam Water Grows Food.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Technology offers options to farmers

Amid employee shortages, groundwater issues and other challenges, farmers in Monterey County and elsewhere are looking to the tech sector to help them bring their crops to market.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Desert farmers trade water for cash as the Colorado River falls

With big western cities clamoring for a share of the river’s diminishing supply, desert farmers with valuable claims are making multimillion dollar deals in a bid to delay the inevitable. … But if the river’s water keeps falling, more radical measures will be needed to protect what remains. 

Aquafornia news California Ag Today

Opinion: SB1 … Fix it or nix it

Earlier this year, Sacramento politicians introduced Senate Bill 1 (SB1) which seeks to inject politics into California’s environmental regulations. SB1 will restrict water deliveries to the Central Valley and make California even more unaffordable. SB1 puts our communities in danger.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

SGMA rollout coming along smoothly

The implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act has presented some challenges, however it appears the overall process is progressing smoothly overall. Supervising Engineering Geologist with the Department of Water Resources, Steven Springhorn noted that the stakeholders have been diligent in adhering to the timeline established by the regulation.

Aquafornia news American Bar Association

Blog: Maps, models, and mystery: Interconnected groundwater and the public trust

We are a profession that depends on, and you might even say reveres, a good map. Rights to water flowing in surface streams are fundamentally defined by geography, and maps have long been a requirement of appropriation and essential evidence of riparian ownership.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Cost, timeline for removing Klamath River dams updated

Removing four hydroelectric dams along the lower Klamath River in Southern Oregon and Northern California is expected to cost just under $434 million and could happen by 2022, according to a new filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Aquafornia news Comstock's Magazine

Are we doomed by climate change?

Mediterranean climates, like California’s, typically follow boom and bust cycles, marked by a predictable shift between cold and wet and hot and dry. But the changing climate will amplify that pattern with weather that is, at times, wetter and at other times hotter.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Notable Sonoma County wine executive’s vineyard business firm accused of water quality violations

Prominent Sonoma County wine executive Hugh Reimers, who last month abruptly left as president of Foley Family Wines, faces allegations that his grape growing company has violated regional, state and federal water quality laws for improperly clearing land near Cloverdale to build a vineyard.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Westlands strikes back at AG Becerra over studying Shasta Dam raise

Westlands Water District isn’t giving up on raising Shasta Dam… The district, stopped in late July by a Shasta County judge from conducting an environmental study on the impact of raising Shasta Dam, filed a petition with the Sacramento-based Third District California Court of Appeal on Monday to vacate the trial court’s injunction.

Aquafornia news Hamilton Spectator

Editorial: How California’s water levels affect Canadians

Why do Canadians need to worry about water levels in California? Because we live in a global world, where an overwhelming amount of foodstuffs cross borders.

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: A diverse Delta: Integrating social and natural sciences

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been extensively studied in terms of its biology, chemistry, and physics, but this wealth of data leaves out a crucial piece of the puzzle: people.

Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Opinion: It’s long past time to end the Delta smelt demagoguery

The Delta smelt is practically extinct in the wild already. So could the Delta be repopulated by taking up the farmers’ offer to “hatch and repopulate the fish,” as Jack Fowler says in National Review? That certainly sounds like common sense! Except that the Delta smelt war has never really been about the Delta smelt at all.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Business Journal

Cadiz enters hemp business

With its long-awaited water project encountering yet another delay, Los Angeles water developer Cadiz Inc. is turning to a new cash crop for its desert land holdings: hemp production.

Aquafornia news The National Review

Opinion: The Trump obsession comes for California’s water

Tomorrow, the Golden State’s Democrat-run, veto-proof legislature returns from its summer break and is expected to quickly take up S.B. 1, the “California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019.” It has been proposed for one reason: Donald Trump is president.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

California’s Shasta Dam project hits financial, legal snags

A plan to raise and expand California’s largest reservoir is on hold as federal officials look for partners to share in the $1.4 billion cost. The federal Bureau of Reclamation also must grapple with opponents who have sued, saying the Shasta Dam project violates state law.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Oysters in peril as warming climate alters the water in their habitats

Human-caused climate change is increasingly harming oysters in Tomales and San Francisco bays and could soon devastate shellfish across California, as the chemistry of the water in estuaries morphs and livable habitat shrinks, a UC Davis study has found.

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Aquafornia news California Sun

Blog: Photographs of a California beautiful and battered

For five years or so, German-born, San Francisco-based photographer Thomas Heinser has made a study of the state’s scarred landscapes. His images, shot from the open side of a helicopter, focus on the after-effects of drought, wildfire, and human profit.

Aquafornia news Huffington Post

9 foods that are making the drought even worse

Some foods require a lot more water to produce than others and our appetites for them could exacerbate water issues. These foods are taxing an already scarce resource.

Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

Nutria a danger to California agriculture. Will $7 million proposal help?

Massive invasive rodents are chewing up wetlands in Merced and other counties. Area leaders say the problem needs more money to eradicate the animals, before they are out of control.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Vineyard of Silicon Valley investor hit with $3.7 million in penalties after bulldozing Mendocino County wetland

A Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur and winemaker has agreed to pay $3.76 million in penalties after his company bulldozed a protected wetland and filled in a stream bed to build a vineyard in Mendocino County, North Coast water regulators announced Friday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Appetite for California almonds still growing, but farmers feel squeeze from new water rules

In California, money does grow on trees. Almonds constitute a $5.6 billion industry, and 2.26 billion pounds were shipped from California last year to be roasted and salted, or turned into anything from frothy, barista-friendly almond milk to marzipan sold on the streets of Berlin.

Aquafornia news Silicon Valley Business Journal

Silicon Valley’s Rhys Vineyards to pay $3.7M to settle regulatory action on Mendocino County irrigation ponds

Rhys Vineyards LLC, based on the California Central Coast but with vines in Mendocino County’s prime pinot noir region of Anderson Valley, has agreed to pay $3.76 million to settle enforcement actions brought by state wildlife and water regulators for unpermitted diversion of rainwater runoff on property of a planned small vineyard in a northern part of the county.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Pair of GOP senators propose easing Obama water rule

Two Midwest Republican senators are pushing a bill to cement changes made by the Trump administration to an Obama-era rule designed to reduce water pollution, bringing a pet project of the Trump administration to Congress. The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule has long been controversial within the agriculture community…

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: Sites Reservoir needed for reliable water future

A flexible, reliable water supply is essential to California’s economy and to the job creation and job security goals of California’s working families. … Of all the projects vying for California’s attention, the proposed Sites Reservoir in Northern California offers the most tangible benefits.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Business Journal

Water developer Cadiz and local cannabis company JV to grow hemp

Los Angeles water developer Cadiz Inc. has entered into a joint venture with a division of Long Beach-based California Cannabis Enterprises Inc. to grow hemp on Cadiz land that sits atop a Mojave Desert aquifer.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Judge orders Westlands of Fresno to stop work on Shasta Dam raise

The Westlands Water District, which provides irrigation water to farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, was working on a report assessing the environmental impacts of raising the height of the dam. But a judge ruled Wednesday that Westlands’ work violated a state law that prohibited local and state agencies from participating in any projects that would have an adverse impact on the McCloud River.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

The Yolo Bypass: It’s a floodplain! It’s farmland! It’s an ecosystem!

California’s biggest river—the Sacramento—needs a lot of room to spread in big water years. A floodplain project called the Yolo Bypass allows it to flood naturally, while also providing habitat for waterbirds, fish, and other aquatic species. We talked to Ted Sommer, lead scientist for the Department of Water Resources (DWR), about this versatile landscape.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Three-way wrangle over plan to expand Shasta Dam

On Monday, the state of California and a coalition of fishing groups and environmentalists asked a judge to bar Westlands from completing a crucial environmental report in hopes of stalling the project. “Everything we see looks to be illegal,” said deputy attorney general Russell Hildreth. At issue is a stretch of the McCloud River that both sides agree would be inundated by the project.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Opinion: Amid climate-linked drought, farmers turn to new water sources. Those are drying up too.

What happens when the farmer’s source of water is tapped out? They look for it elsewhere. This could become a major problem as their adaptation to climate change only exacerbates another major impact from climate change—water scarcity.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: Are Manteca leaders preparing to sell city’s future down the river?

Water is key to everything in California. If you have control of water in sufficient amounts you control your destiny. There are three things on the horizon that city leaders had best pay heed before they buy into the PG&E model regarding critical and essential utilities and go for the money in the here and now while ignoring long term consequences.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Editorial: Getting it right on water rights

If credibility were measured like rainfall, the Trump administration would be in the midst of a prolonged drought — as evidenced most recently in its handling of plans to send more water to California’s Central Valley.

Aquafornia news U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Blog: Hamilton City project combines flood management with ecosystem restoration

The community wanted to create flood relief for the people of Hamilton City; The Nature Conservancy wanted to find a way to restore native habitat. Area farmers wanted to reduce damages from flows that scoured their property along the edge of the river. The Hamilton City Flood Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration project was able to address these problems with one solution.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

‘A Higher Priority’: Humboldt County, water district square off over zoning changes

If you’ve read stories about the disaster afflicting Flint, Michigan, you are probably grateful we still have good drinking water in Humboldt County. But the agency that provides water to a majority of county residents is increasingly worried about the future and going head-to-head with the county Planning and Building Department to protect water quality.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Study: Drilling of deeper wells in United States is ‘unsustainable’

In areas where groundwater levels have fallen because of heavy pumping, people have often responded by drilling deeper wells. But exactly how much that has been occurring on a nationwide scale wasn’t clear until water experts compiled nearly 12 million well-drilling records from state and local agencies across the country.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Consultant working on deal to pipe Manteca’s recycled wastewater to farm buyers along Delta Mendota Canal

Just how much Manteca’s treated wastewater is worth to agricultural users served by the Delta Mendota Canal that are often at the mercy of fish flows diversions and drought that reduces their Central Valley Project allocations may be determined in the coming year.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Supervisors offer support for Nordic Aquafarms incentives

A Humboldt County task force will attempt to find ways of incentivizing extensive infrastructure improvements at the Samoa Peninsula, where a major aquaculture project is soon to arrive. Nordic Aquafarms … wants the county to first address surface water turbidity concerns and a toxic brownfield problem that have existed at the Samoa Peninsula since the closure of the industrial pulp mills last decade.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: California’s struggle for water certainty continues

For many years, federal “biological opinions” for delta smelt and winter run chinook salmon have dictated restrictions on operations of the pumps, reservoirs and canals of the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project… Informed by a decade of science and on-the-ground experience with what we know has not worked, long-awaited new federal biological opinions are finally nearing completion.

Aquafornia news Pacific Standard

Groundwater depletion may cause domestic wells to dry out

A new study looked at more than half a century of well depth trends to gain new insights into the management of the critical resource. … The team found that, between 1950 and 2015, across most of the country, groundwater users are drilling wells deeper and deeper. But well depths did not increase everywhere … which means that, in some places, wells might dry up.

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Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: A listening California should consult the real experts on water

The Natural Resources Agency, California EPA, and California Department of Food and Agriculture want the public’s input on how best to manage and deal with an uncertain water supply in the future. It seems every new administration in Sacramento must deal with water issues in California that never seem to get fixed.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Shasta County judge rejects effort to move Shasta Dam lawsuit to Fresno

A judge has rejected a San Joaquin Valley irrigation district’s request to move a lawsuit against raising the height of Shasta Dam to Fresno County. Westlands Water District, based in Fresno, wanted to move the lawsuit against it to its home county, but a judge has ruled the case will remain in Shasta County.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Opinion: Federal freshwater and saltwater fisheries biologists should work under the same roof

The Trump Administration last year proposed to combine the responsibilities of both the NMFS and the USFWS under one federal roof. This would promote more efficient, effective, and coordinated management of all ESA responsibilities for anadromous and freshwater fish in Western watersheds, from the highest reaches of our headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.

Aquafornia news Mt. Shasta Herald

Opinion: Klamath dam removal will benefit fishing guides and anglers

As a small business owner who leads fishing tours for anglers from within and beyond the region, I understand that taking these dams out may lead to a short-term dip in business. But the long-term benefits of dam removal outweigh the near-term costs to my family and my livelihood.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Solano commission recommends supervisors protect Cache Slough ag

The Solano County Planning Commission on Thursday was told that a proposal to more stringently protect agricultural uses in the Cache Slough area could negatively affect the goals of the Delta Plan.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Monday Top of the Scroll: Snowmelt pushes Lake Tahoe water level close to legal limit

Lake Tahoe is the fullest it’s been in nearly two decades. Officials say the alpine lake on the California-Nevada line is approaching the legal limit after snowmelt from a stormy winter left enough water to potentially last through three summers of drought.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Friday Top of the Scroll: LA’s Kern County sludge farm to stop receiving free Bakersfield water

For around 20 years, Los Angeles has shipped a large portion of “biosolids” from its toilets to fertilize a farm it owns just west of Bakersfield. Bakersfield, in return, has been providing an annual load of 18,000 acre-feet of free water to the farm. However, after passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the value of treated wastewater increased.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Salmon study may foil Trump’s plan to boost water deliveries to Central Valley farms

Federal biologists worked frantically this year to meet a deadline to assess the environmental impacts of Trump administration plans to send more water to Central Valley farmers. But the biologists’ conclusion — that increased deliveries would harm endangered Chinook salmon and other imperiled fish — would foil those plans.

Aquafornia news Photographic Museum of Humanity

The illusion of limitless water

In black and white, John Trotter documents the use of water from the Colorado River, tackling the social, political, and environmental impact of the way it’s dealt with. Spanning over years and kilometres, his ongoing essay is a dire political outcry.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

A hike through Sedona with Bruce Babbitt into the Oak Creek wilderness

In the 1990s, he played a central role in some of the country’s biggest environmental decisions. … He could have chosen to wrap up his career when he left office at the end of the Clinton administration in 2001. But Babbitt has remained actively engaged in issues he cares about.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

New strawberry varieties on the way – tastier, cheaper, better for the planet, UC Davis says

They’ll use less water, less fertilizer and fewer pesticides – and they will probably be cheaper. The Public Strawberry Breeding Program at UC Davis just announced five new strawberry varieties that will be on the market in the fall and are expected to benefit farmers, sellers and consumers alike.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Monday Top of the Scroll: Administration sidelines federal biologists who could stand in way of more water for Calif. farmers

Just days before federal biologists were set to release new rules governing the future of endangered salmon and drinking water for two-thirds of Californians, the administration replaced them with an almost entirely new group … to “refine” and “improve” the rules, according to an email obtained by KQED. Environmental groups said the Department of  Interior is interfering with the science…

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Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Feds seek comment on tweaks to California water operations

Seeking to implement updated scientific methods to its operations in the Golden State, the Bureau of Reclamation released a draft environmental impact report on the coordinated operations between the federal Central Valley Project and California’s State Water Project on Thursday.

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Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

National relevance of takings case reflected in Monday hearing in D.C.

A longtime court case involving the shutoff of water to multiple water users in the Klamath Basin in 2001 attracted wide-ranging attention from Pacific Northwest-based organizations and those within the legal community in Washington, D.C. Nearly 90 minutes of oral arguments were heard Monday at the U.S. Court of Appeals at the Federal Circuit.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: How Parker Dam might have been the Colorado River’s first

If you want to dam rivers, as we were inclined across much of the 20th century, the location of the current Parker Dam on the Lower Colorado River makes sense – a narrow gap just downstream from the confluence of the Colorado and Bill Williams rivers on the Arizona-California border.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Bill to fix Friant-Kern Canal continues forward progress

The bill that will provide support for necessary repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal is continuing to make forward progress in the California legislature. Senate Bill 559 (SB-559) … was voted through the Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee in the Assembly on July 2. The bill itself is seeking $400 million to make important upgrades and repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

South San Joaquin Irrigation District delivers prosperity

A bold move by farmers to form the South San Joaquin Irrigation District 110 years ago literally changed the economic fortunes of Manteca, Ripon and Escalon. And no way else did SSJID have as big as an impact as it did on Manteca.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Trump said water wars ‘easy’ to fix. What do farmers say now?

On June 28, farmers gathered in Los Banos to ask questions of President Trump’s agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue. GV Wire took the opportunity to ask growers if they believed Trump was doing enough to bring water to farmers. Generally, they said they like how things are progressing.

Aquafornia news Futurity.org

How planting trees can improve water quality

New research offers a hard link between reforestation of marginal, degraded, or abandoned agricultural land and significant benefits in water quality. This relationship, argues Arturo Keller, a professor of environmental biogeochemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara, lends itself toward a program that incentivizes facilities that discharge pollutants, and local farmers to plant trees for water quality credits.

Aquafornia news Soundings Magazine

First generation farmers

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta historically has been an agricultural paradise. But sometimes there is a disconnect between the agricultural community and the urban culture. A fourth generation farmer has made it her mission to reconnect the two in hopes of inspiring the next generation to consider farming as a career.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Trump’s pending rules on California water marked by missing documents and hurried reviews, say scientists

In their analyses, they write that the plan poses risks to threatened fish; that the process is rushed; that they didn’t receive enough information to provide a complete scientific review; and that the Trump administration may be skewing the science to make the environmental impact look less serious.

Aquafornia news Oroville Mercury-Register

Miocene Canal faces a murky future

When the Camp Fire struck last November, the upper Miocene Canal, constructed mostly of wooden flumes, was destroyed. Now, the most important part of the canal, receiving water from the Feather River to the north, cannot convey water down through the rest of the canal system.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Mark Arax’s ‘The Dreamt Land’ traces California’s fear of a handful of dust

On the ground, it’s hard to get a fix on the Central Valley; it flashes by as dun-colored monotony — a sun-stunned void beyond the freeway berms. … But in “The Dreamt Land,” former L.A. Times reporter Mark Arax makes a riveting case that this expanse … as much as the world cities on its coast, holds the key to understanding California.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: Water management is tough. Let’s tackle it together

Of all the issues that have crossed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk during his first 100 days in office, water might very well be the most complex. … I am an almond grower from Merced County, and we in the California almond community are all rooting for the governor, his fellow policymakers and regulators to succeed in finding viable solutions and common ground.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Escondido, tribe reach agreement on easement for water pipeline

A plan to underground about 2.5 miles of the Escondido Canal through and near the San Pasqual Indian reservation has moved forward with an agreement reached recently for Escondido to pay the tribe for an easement through its land. The 14-mile-long Escondido Canal transports water from Lake Henshaw to Lake Wohlford where it is stored for use by Escondido and Vista Irrigation District consumers.

Aquafornia news California Ag Today

Opinion: Delta smelt are poor swimmers

Delta smelt are poor swimmers. When they have to swim against voluminous outflows, they struggle. They also lack endurance for distance and swimming against currents. This was the result of the taxpayer-funded swim performance test conducted more than 20 years ago. Why is this important?

Aquafornia news CSUN Today

CSUN students help link communities with clean water

CSUN students and faculty have long contributed to California’s efforts to ensure access to clean drinking water, efforts that have intensified during the recent multi-year drought. A group of students in CSUN’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies is helping in these efforts.

Aquafornia news Sonoma County Gazette

Sonoma County approves plan to offset groundwater fees in the Santa Rosa Plain

On Tuesday, May 21, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Water Agencyand the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to offset a fee that is likely to be imposed on groundwater users in the Santa Rosa Plain… Under the plan, the County and Sonoma Water would contribute up to $240,000 annually for three years to the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: What’s behind California’s lawsuit against Westlands, raising Shasta dam?

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his allies have filed a lawsuit to stop Federal water users from participating in the raising of Shasta Dam, a federal dam. … Plain and simple, this is a lawsuit waged against Central Valley farmers.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Interior Department pulls support from Klamath dam removal project

Recently-appointed Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has rescinded a letter of support that Obama-era Interior Secretary Sally Jewell wrote in 2016. … Matt Cox is with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the non-profit formed to implement the dam removal agreement. He says rescinding Jewell’s letter has no legal effect.

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Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Rain and windy weather causing problems for North Coast wine grape growers

Because of the pelting rains and accompanying windy conditions, chardonnay and pinot noir grapes have the greatest chance to suffer from shatter, the term used by vintners when a grapevine’s delicate flowers don’t pollinate and develop into grapes.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California record cherry crop, season at risk due to May rains

Bruce Blodgett is executive director of the farm bureau in San Joaquin County, California’s cherry bowl. The mid-May downpour and his windshield wipers told him everything he needed to know: His county’s record ready-to-pick yield of sweet cherries – one of San Joaquin’s most lucrative crops even amid the county’s winemaking renaissance – was in serious danger.

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Aquafornia news KQED News

Mark Arax: Chasing the water and dust behind the California dream

Mark Arax’s new book, “The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California,” explores how the quest to find and move water has always been essential to the California Dream. … He sat down with California Report Magazine Host Sasha Khokha.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Can small-scale farmers grow a healthier California?

Aidee Guzman is focusing on these small farms to find out whether, ecologically, this diversity has any positive effects on soil health. Her work won’t be published for another two years, but there is already a large body of research that explains how large monocropping operations strip soils of their nutrients and make them less capable of storing carbon… As she works, she is documenting a potential alternative to the industrial mega-farms of the valley and the West.

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Fundraiser focuses on stopping Klamath dam removal

Halting plans to remove four dams on the Klamath River was the theme of a well-attended fundraising event hosted May 4 by the Siskiyou County Water Users Association. Guest speakers, including Congressman Doug LaMalfa, Siskiyou County Supervisor Brandon Criss, former Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams and Attorney James Buchal, author of “The Great Salmon Hoax” discussed problems they foresee with dam removal which they believe is far from a done deal.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Indian Wells board hears brackish water study update

A brackish water study conducted by consulting firm Aqualogic has predicted three potential areas that can be tapped for brackish water extraction in the Indian Wells Valley. … The brackish water project has the potential to help expand local supplies if the water is properly treated and brine removed.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Valley Water’s farm subsidy to remain, for now

Like everyone else in Santa Clara Valley who uses wells, farmers will see their groundwater production charges go up 6.8 percent this year. But unlike the others, they’ll continue to receive substantial subsidies. In approving the increased charges for well users, the Santa Clara Valley Water District board left intact for at least two years the current structure that allows farmers to pay only 6 percent of the amount residents and businesses pay.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

$2 billion verdict against Monsanto is third to find Roundup caused cancer

A jury in Oakland, Calif., ordered Monsanto on Monday to pay a couple more than $2 billion in damages after finding that its Roundup weed killer caused their cancer — the third jury to conclude that the company failed to warn consumers of its flagship product’s dangers. Thousands of additional lawsuits against Monsanto, which Bayer acquired last year, are queued up in state and federal courts.

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Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Sanitation district get 3 more years to complete chloride plan

State water regulators gave local sanitation officials three more years to carry out their plan to reduce the amount of chloride that ends up in the Santa Clara River. … The sanitation district … was mandated to reduce the amount of chloride, or salt, that discharges from wastewater treatment plants into the Santa Clara River, largely due to concerns by downstream farmers that chloride was damaging salt-sensitive crops such as strawberries and avocados.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Are Santa Clara Valley farmers paying too little for precious water?

The water that irrigates Santa Clara Valley’s last farms comes dirt cheap for growers who pump it out of the ground. They pay just a fraction — 6 percent — of the amount residents and businesses in the valley must pony up for their well water. The rest of the cost for farmers’ water is subsidized, mostly from revenue the Santa Clara Valley Water District receives through property taxes.

Aquafornia news The Recorder

Opinion: California’s bold step forward into the contentious world of wetlands regulation

In April 2019, the California State Water Resources Control Board unanimously approved a comprehensive new legal framework for protecting California’s wetlands. California has lost approximately 90% of its historic wetland areas, which have important water quality, species habitat and other environmental and economic benefits. … California has never had its own comprehensive wetlands protection law.

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

City of Ukiah contributes more to study of Potter Valley Project purchase

The Ukiah City Council recently approved contributing another $50,000 to a local group’s effort to explore the possibility of buying the Potter Valley Project. … Sean White, the city’s director of water resources, described the dam facility as “essentially a diversion of Eel River water through a tunnel that provides major benefits to Lake Mendocino, which provides a significant amount of our water supply.”

Aquafornia news Environmental Health News

The planet is losing free-flowing rivers

Only 37 percent of the world’s longest rivers remain unimpeded and free-flowing from their source to where they empty, according to a study published today in Nature. Free-flowing rivers are ecologically crucial — replenishing groundwater, bolstering biodiversity, and reducing the impacts of droughts and floods.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California to outlaw pesticide harmful to kids

The nation’s most productive agricultural state will ban a widely used toxic pesticide blamed for harming brain development in babies, California officials said Wednesday. The move would outlaw chlorpyrifos after scientists deemed it a toxic air contaminant and discovered it to be more dangerous than previously thought.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

CVP districts seek ways to enhance water supplies

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Central Valley Project, may update its 65% allocation for south-of-delta agricultural contractors later this month. But Lon Martin, general manager of the Los Banos-based San Luis Water District, said landowners who are planting crops and must secure water for the remainder of the year “cannot wait until May and June to make decisions.”

Aquafornia news Lake County Record-Bee

USDA report calls for more tech in U.S. farms

The USDA report, released Tuesday, finds that between $47 billion and $65 billion could be added to the U.S. agricultural economy annually if infrastructure for what the report calls “precision agriculture” — a term for farming practices that emphasize digitally-based data collection and e-connectivity (often via broadband) — is deployed in rural agricultural economies on a large scale.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Reinventing the tomato for survival in a changing world

Born and raised in Northern California, Brad Gates has been organically farming tomatoes in the region for 25 years, working on small leased plots and introducing new varieties with cult followings… For most of that time, he sold his tomatoes to top restaurants, including Chez Panisse in Berkeley. But a few years ago he completely rethought his work. Galvanized by climate change, he joined a growing number of farmers who are trying to find a future for their threatened crops.

Aquafornia news Kaiser Health News

California among states considering banning widely used pesticide EPA won’t

Several studies have linked prenatal exposure of chlorpyrifos to lower birth weights, lower IQs, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other developmental issues in children. But the EPA in 2017 ignored the conclusions of its scientists and rejected a proposal made during the Obama administration to ban its use in fields and orchards.

Aquafornia news San Diego County Water Authority

News Release: Cooperation Preserves Pauma Valley Groundwater

Instead of waiting for Yuima Valley’s precious groundwater supplies to dry up, the Yuima Municipal Water District and local farmers are working cooperatively to create a sustainable long-term strategy for maintaining the region’s economy and quality of life by proactively managing the valley’s aquifer.

Aquafornia news Politico

Interior’s Bernhardt worked closely on matters he promised to avoid

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt began working on policies that would aid one of his former lobbying clients within weeks of joining the Trump administration, according to a POLITICO analysis of agency documents … Newly disclosed schedule “cards” prepared by Interior officials for Bernhardt show more than three dozen meetings with key players on California water issues, including multiple lengthy meetings on specific endangered species protections at the heart of his previous work.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River’s biggest champion: Walmart heirs

An unlikely advocate seems to be around every bend of the Colorado River these days: the Walton Family Foundation. The $3.65 billion organization launched by Walmart founder Sam Walton has become ubiquitous in the seven-state basin that provides water to 40 million people, dishing out $100 million in grants in the last five years alone. … The foundation’s reach is dizzying and, outside the basin, has received scant attention. (First of two parts.)

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Water users try to adopt ‘orphaned’ PG&E project

Balancing fisheries restoration and water-supply reliability is central to a water struggle playing out in Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma and Humboldt counties after Pacific Gas and Electric Co. withdrew its application to relicense the Potter Valley Project, leaving the now “orphaned” project in the hands of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farm leaders advocate on Capitol Hill

The California Farm Bureau delegation met last week with more than 20 members of the California congressional delegation, with a particular emphasis on members newly elected in 2018. They met with U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, two days before the Senate confirmed his appointment as the Cabinet’s newest member. For the first time in several years, they conducted a briefing for congressional staff members, to describe key issues facing California farmers and ranchers.

Aquafornia news Cannabis Industry Journal

Blog: Water policy in California: Six key takeaways from the State Water Board’s new cannabis cultivation policy

Cannabis is the most highly regulated crop in California, and the state just added another layer of regulation. This article breaks down the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) recently updated Cannabis Cultivation Policy – Principles and Guidelines for Cannabis Cultivation (“Policy”) into six key takeaways.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Ag Census: Farmland receding in California

Agriculture appears to be slowly receding in California. Though it still leads the nation in production, the Golden State lost more than 1 million acres of farmland and some 7,000 farms from 2012-2017, according to the USDA’s latest Census of Agriculture.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

David Bernhardt confirmed as Interior secretary despite ethics concerns

David Bernhardt, President Trump’s pick to the lead the Interior Department, was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday amid persistent ethical concerns and doubts about his independence from the energy and water industry groups he long represented as a lobbyist.

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Aquafornia news Science Magazine

Drought is not just about water. It affects air pollution, too

The severe drought that struck California from 2011 to 2015 had an obvious impact on rivers, forests, and wildlife. Now, a new study shows it also had some surprising effects on the state’s notorious air pollution, adding new wrinkles to the state’s efforts to clear the skies.

Aquafornia news KUNC

In Colorado River’s final hundred miles, small signs of life return

Zig-zagging around us, among the trees, is a sprawling network of irrigation ditches. It’s almost laid out like a farm. Instead of the food crops grown all around this site, Schlatter’s team grows trees and willows, prime habitat for birds, coyotes, frogs and other wildlife. The whole site only receives water a couple times a year.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Exploring the Delta’s big questions

For the millions of Californians who live and work far from the Delta, it can be easy to overlook the splendor of the largest estuary in western North America. Whether you are one mile or hundreds of miles from the Delta, however, all Californians have a stake in the survival and preservation of this fragile, dynamic ecosystem that is also the keystone of the state’s water supply system.

Aquafornia news KRCR

California Conservation Corps clean storm debris from miles of irrigation canal

The Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District, or ACID, Canal was covered in tree debris after the snow and rain storms. The workload was enough that Congressman Doug Lamalfa called in the California Conservation Corps.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Editorial: SB307 goes against California’s water needs

Senate Bill 307 prohibits water transfers unless two agencies agree that the transfers do not harm state and federal desert lands. But it’s really about one thing: stopping the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project. … The Cadiz project has been thoroughly vetted and meets an important need. It’s time legislators let it proceed.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Irrigation district leader in Turlock will retire

Casey Hashimoto, general manager of the Turlock Irrigation District since 2010, announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of 2019. The leader of one of Stanislaus County’s largest water and power providers disclosed his plans at the morning board meeting. Hashimoto, an electrical engineer, joined TID in 1985 and was an assistant GM for 10 years.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Opinion: Finally, a new path toward managing water, rivers and the Delta

Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid. Pumping rules in the Delta on Nov. 30, for example, are very different than those 24 hours later, regardless of the weather. … Simply put, we are stuck in yesterday’s way of regulating things.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

For long-term water supply, U.S. officials look to Mexico

An increasing number of solutions to California and Arizona’s long-term water problems now involve Mexico. Some of the ideas are seemingly far-fetched, like a pipeline to bring water from the Gulf of California to the Salton Sea in Imperial County. Some are already happening, like Mexico agreeing to reduce its water use in the event of a Colorado River shortage. … That stands in contrast not only to recent threats by President Donald Trump to shut down the border, but some existing water projects.

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Aquafornia news Lake County News

State Senate confirms Wade Crowfoot as California secretary for Natural Resources

The State Senate on Monday confirmed Wade Crowfoot as California secretary for Natural Resources in a bipartisan vote of 38-0.

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Tour Nick Gray

2020 Clone of Central Valley Tour 2019
Field Trip - April 3-5

Venture through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Sun

Tribal leaders urge House to extend funding for water settlements

Tohono O’odham Chairman Edward D. Manuel testified Thursday that lack of water has been killing crops and livestock – and, essentially, the tribe’s economy – and things will only get worse if federal funding is allowed to lapse. That’s why Manuel joined officials from other tribes, utilities and advocacy groups to urge passage of a bill by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, that would make permanent a federal fund used to help the government meet its obligations under legal settlements over water-rights issues.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Despite being a desert, the Palm Springs area’s past is tied to water

Despite its designation as a desert, the Coachella Valley is blessed with water. The very names associated with the most prominent places and businesses in the desert, such as the Oasis Hotel, Mineral Springs Hotel, Deep Well, Indian Wells, Palm Springs, Snow Creek, and Tahquitz River Estates, all conjure up pretty images of water. But the early story of desert water is more utilitarian than picturesque: it quite literally can be seen as a history of ditches.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: America’s 2019 harvest is already in trouble

As farmers plant their 2019 crops, hopeful for an abundant harvest, they are unknowingly battling history. Past wildfires and other tree loss in California will likely interfere with U.S. food crops, based on emerging results of our own and colleagues’ research. … Deforestation could cause millions of dollars in lost agricultural production throughout the U.S. But policy and practice still fail to recognize the interdependence of our wild and cultivated lands.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Former Gov. Jerry Brown’s days filled with grazing cows, drawing well water at Colusa ranch

Brown and former first lady Anne Gust Brown, in their first public appearance since he left office in January, spoke to about 100 attendees about the daunting challenges they face living on a self-sustaining farm: installing solar panels for power, collecting water from a well, and tending to an olive tree orchard.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

To rid California of rodents of unusual size, state to use detection dogs and ‘judas nutria’

For the past year the state’s worked to eradicate the rodents for a second time. The rodents were brought to California in the 1900s for the fur trade and fur farming. “[The] challenge is we keep looking and we keep finding more nutria,” said Peter Tira with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “However, we do know there’s about 1.8 million acres of suitable nutria habitat. This is the largest nutria eradication ever attempted in the United States.”

Aquafornia news KQED

Sonoma County still hoping flooding will be declared federal disaster

One month after destructive flooding tore through Sonoma County, residents are waiting for the state to decide if it will ask the federal government for a disaster declaration — a move that they say can bring them much-needed financial aid.

Aquafornia news The Packer

California LGMA to require treatment of water for leafy greens

Growers in the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement will soon be sanitizing “open-source” water used on their crops, which has been the focus of at least two recent E. coli outbreaks traced to leafy greens. Scott Horsfall, the group’s CEO, said the new water treatment rules could be implemented as early as late April, or as late as mid-July.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Climate change is already hurting fruit breeders, and consumers could soon feel the pain

Researchers across the United States say the milder winters of a changing climate are inducing earlier flowering of temperate tree fruits, exposing the blooms and nascent fruit to increasingly erratic frosts, hail and other adverse weather. The problem is not obvious to consumers, in part because a harvest collapse in one region can be masked by a bumper crop in another. But unless breeders can produce more climate-resilient varieties, fruit-growing regions of the United States will be seriously disrupted by future warming scenarios, scientists say.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Bay-Delta Tour is a once-a-year, don’t-miss opportunity to explore California’s vital water hub June 5-7

On our Bay-Delta Tour June 5-7, participants will hear from a diverse group of experts including water managers, environmentalists, farmers, engineers and scientists who will offer various perspectives on a proposed tunnel project that would carry water beneath the Delta, efforts to revitalize the Delta and risks that threaten its delicate ecological balance.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Progress seen in effort to eradicate rodent from California

More than 400 nutria have been captured in the first year of an effort to eradicate the invasive South American rodent from California. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said Monday the semi-aquatic rodents were trapped in five counties in the San Joaquin Valley. Nutria are an agricultural pest, destroy wetlands critical to native wildlife and threaten water delivery and flood control infrastructure through destructive burrowing.

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Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

A local water board paid an employee not to work there. Now he’s on the board

Five years ago, the Sweetwater Authority paid one of its engineers $175,000 to drop a lawsuit against the water district if he agreed to never work there again. Now, the engineer, Hector Martinez, is one of seven board members in charge of running the district.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Fair representation can boost Imperial Irrigation District’s leadership

I introduced AB 854 because the board of directors of IID, one of California’s most powerful municipal utilities, operates without representation from Riverside County ratepayers who make up 60 percent of their service territory. Moreover, according to The Desert Sun, Riverside County ratepayers provide IID with the majority of its revenue yet have no voice on how their municipal utility is managed.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

How California is defying Trump’s environmental rollbacks

State officials are throwing up legal barriers to some high-stakes attacks. … They are refusing to issue permits the federal government needs to build a controversial dam project… And they can use state water quality standards to limit Washington’s ability to boost irrigation supplies for Central Valley agriculture by relaxing federal safeguards for endangered fish.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California water deal must include Delta, fisheries interests

Any new path on California water must bring Delta community and fishing interests to the table. We have solutions to offer. We live with the impacts of state water management decisions from loss of recreation to degradation of water quality to collapsing fisheries. For example, how can new and improved technology be employed to track real time management of fisheries?

Aquafornia news Paradise Post

New flood plain near Hamilton City gets first test when river rises

As the Sacramento River rose in late February and early March due to a series of storms, it spilled over and flooded several hundred acres of recently planted fields south of Hamilton City. Just the way it was planned. The river poured through a gap that had been opened in the old J Levee and flooded a habitat restoration project between the riverbank and a new levee that had been built, set back from the river a mile or so.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa County supervisors search for elusive watershed middle ground

Some community members are demanding the county do more to safeguard reservoir water quality and save carbon-sequestering trees to combat climate change. Others say no proof exists that drastic steps are needed and that the results could hurt agriculture and vineyard development.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Resource issues dominate annual California Farm Bureau conference

Addressing concerns that include floods, droughts, wildfires and state regulations on river flow, two state officials advised farmers and ranchers to remain engaged in those and other natural-resources issues. At the California Farm Bureau Federation Leaders Conference in Sacramento last week, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said his top priorities include water and wildfire protection.

Aquafornia news KMPH News

Battle to eliminate destructive nutria in California is three years away

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has been battling the destructive Nutria for two years. State biologists believe it will be another three years before they win the war against the pesky rodent. The nutria is considered a triple threat to Valley wetlands, agriculture and water delivery systems.

Aquafornia news Mother Nature Network

This invasive 20-pound rodent could devastate California’s agriculture industry

They are a semiaquatic South American rodent a bit smaller than a beaver. Females can give birth three times a year and have up to 12 babies each litter. They are really good at tearing up crops, burrowing tunnels into levees, and other destructive behavior that is tough on farmers. And they’ve been discovered in California’s San Joaquin Valley, a major food-producing area.

Aquafornia news Westsideconnect.com

West Side ag faces ongoing challenges

West Side agriculture, the diverse industry which is the background of the local economy, faces an array of challenges in the year ahead. … Water continues to be an uncertainty for growers served by federal agencies such as the Del Puerto Water District which runs along the I-5 corridor, despite heavy snow packs and filling reservoirs.

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Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

‘Major problem’ floods Tulare County homes, crews work to pump water

A “major problem” in southeast Tulare County forced hundreds of people out of their homes and endangered thousands of animals. … Tulare County Sheriff’s Department was sent scrambling to notify residents in the area of Strathmore that Frazier Creek Canal spilled over and water levels were rising. Frazier Creek is directly linked to the Friant-Kern Canal. … Friant-Kern Water Authority officials later determined the flooding wasn’t caused by “overtopping” of the Friant-Kern Canal’s banks. The issue was drainage from Frazier Creek.

Aquafornia news Soundings Magazine

Collecting stories of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

For a region so crucial to the growth of California as we know it today, you might think there would be libraries full of books about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. And yet, as UC Merced scholar Gregg Camfield wrote several years ago, the most obvious thing about the literature of the Delta “is how little there is.” Advocates of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas are trying to collect those scattered bits and pieces in a new anthology of the Delta.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa Planning Commission comes up with watershed protection recommendations

The Napa County Planning Commission is sending the controversial, draft Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance back to the Board of Supervisors with a few recommended changes, but no sea change in direction. Commissioners heard from about 50 speakers on Wednesday. Some warned that too many additional environmental restrictions will hurt farming. Some said that bold action is needed to protect drinking water and combat climate change.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield.com

Momentum builds for public investment in California water-storage projects

Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the state’s high-speed rail project toward reservoir projects, as well as repairs to Friant-Kern Canal. … The proposals by U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy and state Assemblyman Vince Fong seize upon a common frustration among many valley Republicans that billions of state and federal dollars dedicated to high-speed rail would be better spent on capturing water from wet years…

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Aquafornia news The Daily Californian

Federal efforts to raise Shasta Dam spark conversation about impacts

Recent plans to enlarge California’s Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet have raised concerns over possible cultural and ecological implications on wildlife among the Winnemem Wintu people and environmental groups alike. … The change in flood patterns would likely affect vital sacred sites for the Winnemen Wintu Puberty Ceremony for young women, according to the Winnemem Wintu website. The project would also relocate roads, railroads, bridges and marinas, according to a fact sheet from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Aquafornia news The Harvard Crimson

After local outcry, a Harvard-owned vineyard project faces environmental review

California farmer Brenton Kelly still remembers how the Cuyama Valley used to be. The valley, located in California’s Central Coast region, has long been home to an abundance of wildlife. Historically, the land has been used for cattle pastures, and featured “beautiful rolling grassy hill” and an “amazing wildflower show,” according to Kelly. These days, however, the land has been taken over by large commercial farms and vineyards, Kelly said. … Among some of the corporations that have expanded into the region in recent years is an unlikely investor — the Harvard Management Company. HMC, the University’s investment arm, oversees Harvard’s nearly $40 billion endowment.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Floods disrupt Northern California farms

Swollen rivers and creeks fed by atmospheric-river storms caused flooding with both short-term and long-term impacts for California farmers. Mary Ann Renner, a dairy farmer in the Humboldt County town of Ferndale, said the flood from the Eel River was not the worst she’s seen—but was close.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: David Bernhardt’s Interior nomination threatens salmon

For California’s salmon fishermen, the downstream effects of political decisions in Washington are too obvious to ignore. It’s not merely a question of profit for us. We are the stewards of the public fisheries resources who rely on their long-term health for our existence. The viability of our future can be challenged by who is in power in Washington, no matter who they are.

Aquafornia news Stanford Bill Lane Center for the American West

Blog: As relicensing looms, aging dams face a reckoning

Dam by dam, owners of smaller hydroelectric projects around the West look at them with a cold eye as relicensing looms. Created with optimism a century ago, dams are now seen as fish-killers and river-distorters. New energy sources are getting cheaper. After decades of operation, owners approach relicensing knowing that, if they are to continue generating a single watt of electricity, they must fix the problems.

Aquafornia news UC Berkeley News

Blog: Federal effort to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet is getting some serious pushback

The extra water from Shasta Lake would raise the lake by an estimated 20 feet, inundating the McCloud River, which is protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. That piece of legislation was designed to protect the trout that heavily populate those waters. And it’s not just state law that speaks out. One of the provisions of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act is to protect fisheries up and down the state’s major rivers. Raising Shasta Dam now would only be possible by overturning those two laws.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington Bureau

Trump interior secretary draws complaints over Westlands

Complaints are mounting against Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt over allegations he used his position to help the interests of his former lobbying client, California’s powerful Westlands Water District. The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint accusing Bernhardt of ethics violations by partaking in decisions directly related to his past lobbying work, resulting in rules that would free up more river water to Fresno-based Westlands and weakening protections for certain endangered fish populations.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Interior: Did Bernhardt once try to blow up Endangered Species Act?

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in 2012 filed a 14-page lawsuit demanding  the Fish and Wildlife Service protect the American eel as a threatened species under the ESA. Bernhardt filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of a California-based organization called the Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability, also known as CESAR. CESAR was, in fact, a group spun together by conservatives with roots in Western farming and the Bush administration.

Aquafornia news Yale Environment 360

Restoring the Colorado: Bringing new life to a stressed river

The Colorado River has been dammed, diverted, and slowed by reservoirs, strangling the life out of a once-thriving ecosystem. But in the U.S. and Mexico, efforts are underway to revive sections of the river and restore vital riparian habitat for native plants, fish, and wildlife. Last in a series.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Top leader at Interior Dept. pushes a policy favoring his former client

As a lobbyist and lawyer, David Bernhardt fought for years on behalf of a group of California farmers to weaken Endangered Species Act protections for a finger-size fish, the delta smelt, to gain access to irrigation water. As a top official since 2017 at the Interior Department, Mr. Bernhardt has been finishing the job: He is working to strip away the rules the farmers had hired him to oppose.

Aquafornia news Daily Democrat

Area congressmen introduce Flood Insurance for Farmers Act

Congressmen John Garamendi and Doug LaMalfa have reintroduced legislation to provide farmers access to discounted rates under the National Flood Insurance Program. The  bipartisan Flood Insurance for Farmers Act of 2019 (H.R.830) would also lift the de facto federal prohibition on construction and repair of agricultural structures in high flood-risk areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Aquafornia news Colusa Sun Herald

Survey shows areas of land subsidence in Sac Valley

New data released measure changes in land subsidence in the Sacramento Valley over the past nine years, finding the greatest land surface declines in Arbuckle. According to the Sacramento Valley GPS Subsidence Netwook Report and accompanying fact sheet … land in the Arbuckle area has sunk 2.14 feet compared with baseline measurements recorded in the same location in 2008, according to a press release from the Department of Water Resources.

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Aquafornia news Places Journal

The land where birds are grown: Engineered wetlands in California’s Central Valley

Maintaining functional wetlands in a 21st-century landscape dominated by agriculture and cities requires a host of hard and soft infrastructures. Canals, pumps, and sluice gates provide critical life support, and the lands are irrigated and tilled in seasonal cycles to essentially farm wildlife. Reams of laws and regulations scaffold the system.

Aquafornia news KCRA

Engineer: Twin Tunnels project could endanger vital levees

The proposed tunnel path stretches 35 miles from west of Elk Grove to just below Discovery Bay. The tunnels would take water from three intakes along the Sacramento River to existing aqueducts south of Discovery Bay, and then the water will be sent to Southern California. Along the proposed path, there are at least 22 levees that would sit above the tunnels….  The concern is not so much the levees themselves, but the kind of soil that is below the levees.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: State board’s wetlands proposal needs to be clarified

It took more than a decade to create, but a revised state definition of wetlands and procedures to protect them from dredge-and-fill activities requires still more work to make the plan more clear and to reduce its impact on farmers, ranchers and foresters.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

CDFW and State Water Boards to present at four cannabis permitting workshops in Northern California

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Resources Control Board, or SWRCB, are extending outreach to the cannabis cultivating community with presentations at four permitting workshops in Northern California. The presentations are ideally suited for cannabis cultivators, consultants and anyone interested in the topic. SWRCB will cover policy and permitting, and other important information. Computers will be available for applicants to apply for water rights and water quality permits.

Aquafornia news Daily Democrat

Nutria threat continues to grow in farm counties

The nutria invasion of California continues. Greg Gerstenberg, a biologist and nutria operations chief with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said 372 nutria had been trapped in the state as of Jan. 10. Bruce Blodgett, executive director of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation, wants farmers and others who maintain levees to be aware.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power agrees to relinquish Owens Valley commercial property

Angelenos bearing gifts have elicited skepticism in Owens Valley since the early 1900s, when city agents posed as ranchers and farmers to buy land and water rights and then built dams and diversions that turned much of the region into an acrid dust bowl. Now, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is extending an olive branch. The department has proposed selling some of the commercial property it leases … to dozens of lessees in the financially struggling towns along a rustic, 112-mile stretch of Highway 395 between the eastern Sierra Nevada range and the White-Inyo Mountains.

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Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry company, is becoming a leader in water conservation

Even in the depths of winter it’s easy to bite into a plump blackberry or a delicate red raspberry, thanks to Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry company. In late 2018, I traveled to the Pajaro Valley, west of Santa Cruz, for a tour of a Driscoll’s research facility, which provided an eye-opening view into how this family-owned company has become an agriculture leader selling berries every month of the year, and why they are so committed to water conservation.

Aquafornia news Environmental News Network

Blog: The global race for groundwater speeds up to feed agriculture’s growing needs

Water is becoming a scarce resource in many parts of the world. Water tables have been falling in many regions for decades, particularly in areas with intensive agriculture. Wells are going dry and there are few long-term solutions available — a common stopgap has been to drill deeper wells. This is exactly what happened in California’s Central Valley. The recent drought there prompted drilling of deeper and deeper water wells to support irrigated agriculture.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

CVWD eyes $40 million Oasis pipeline bond; Growers: District should tap reserves

Coachella Valley Water District board members on Tuesday debated issuing a $40 million bond to pay for an extension of the Oasis pipeline to bring imported water to about 40 farmers and others in the irrigation district, who would pay the costs back over 30 years. A small rate increase could be imposed as well. The 17-mile pipeline and three pump stations would provide Colorado River water to mostly longtime farmers in the valley who already obtain much of their water from the river via the All-American Canal, but get some from wells.

Aquafornia news L.A. Daily News

Opinion: California’s proposed water tax: Gavin Newsom’s trickle down economics

California’s new governor looked at the rainfall and saw millions of dollars in uncollected water taxes going right down the drain. In one of his first moves as chief executive, Newsom declared that he wants to tax the state’s drinking water, in order to give poor people access to safe and affordable water. I guess this is his idea of trickle-down economics.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Gavin Newsom visits Stanislaus County to talk safe drinking water

A day after proposing a tax on drinking water, Gov. Gavin Newsom took a “surprise” road trip to meet with Stanislaus County residents in a community known for having unsafe wells. Newsom and his cabinet made their first stop at the Monterey Park Tract in Ceres, where he held a roundtable discussion with people who for years had to use bottled water for drinking and cooking because their community’s two wells were long-contaminated with nitrates and arsenic.

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

Klamath refuge management attacked from all sides

The U.S. Interior Department is facing three lawsuits filed by three environmental groups who allege its plans for the 200,000-acre Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex along the Oregon-California border violates several federal laws. A fourth complaint from six farms and agricultural groups alleges the agency has unlawfully exceeded its authority by restricting leases of refuge land for agricultural purposes.

Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Like fruit, vegetables, and almonds? Scientists have bad news

At the end of the last century, the Sierra Nevada captured an average of 8.76 million acre-feet of water critical to the nation’s largest food-producing region. By mid-century, a new study projects, the average will fall to 4 million acre-feet; and by century’s end, 1.81 million acre-feet. 

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Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

‘This plan is illegal.’ Merced Irrigation District challenging state’s water decision

The Merced Irrigation District board gave direction Wednesday to take legal action challenging the state’s Bay-Delta water quality control plan, which is strongly opposed by communities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

POM Wonderful will raise its minimum wage to $15 — years before California law demands it

The Wonderful Co., a major producer of packaged goods known for its pistachios and POM beverages, announced Wednesday that it will increase its minimum pay to $15 an hour for all of its California workers starting Jan. 1. … The company has a controversial presence in California. Multiple national outlets, including Forbes, Mother Jones and the California Sunday, have published stories in recent years chronicling Wonderful’s massive water usage in otherwise bone-dry Central California.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: California cedes water to feds in Delta deal with Trump

Southern Californians could lose billions of gallons of water a year to Central Valley farmers under a deal Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has struck with water officials working for President Donald Trump. There’s no guarantee the agreement with Trump will accomplish what Brown’s team is seeking: a lasting compromise on environmental regulations that could stave off significant water shortfalls for farms and cities across California.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tainted romaine lettuce traced to at least 1 California farm

Officials said a water reservoir at Adam Bros. Farms in Santa Barbara County tested positive for the bacterial strain and the owners are cooperating with U.S. officials. Officials from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not determined how the water reservoir — which is used to irrigate lettuce — became contaminated.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, DC, Bureau

Why the farm bill matters to Californians

California agriculture interests will find the farm bill Congress passed this week largely means more of the same. … The farm bill helps agricultural producers — whose business interests can often run contrary to environmental well-being — protect the environment, providing money so they don’t have to pay more out of pocket in order to be environmentally conscious.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Fight over river flows heads to historic Water Board meeting in Sacramento

As all eyes turn to the State Water Resources Control Board on Wednesday, the board won’t have complete settlement agreements with Modesto-area irrigation districts to consider at a crucial meeting. At most, the districts and negotiators with the state Natural Resources Agency will have the basic framework of an agreement that’s an alternative to a state plan for river flows that is fiercely opposed by water users and local agencies in Stanislaus County.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Trump administration announces plan to roll back rules on stream, wetland protection

The Trump administration laid out plans Tuesday to roll back Obama-era rules protecting isolated streams and wetlands from industrial pollution, a move that conservation groups said could harm creeks and impact drinking water in the Bay Area and throughout California. The move by the Environmental Protection Agency to roll back the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule, known as WOTUS, was hailed by farmers and industry, which have long sought to rewrite the rules.

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Tour Nick Gray

Central Coast Tour 2019
Field Trip - November 6-7

This 2-day, 1-night tour offers participants the opportunity to learn about water issues affecting California’s scenic Central Coast and efforts to solve some of the challenges of a region struggling to be sustainable with limited local supplies. 

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Palm Desert resident sues CVWD over property taxes, claims they illegally benefit farmers

Palm Desert resident Randy Roberts filed a class-action lawsuit against the Coachella Valley Water District on Dec. 3, claiming the cash-rich agency is illegally taxing non-agricultural homeowners and businesses and has diverted more than $60 million to fund projects that often benefit large farmers. … Roberts, a longtime critic of the water district, charges it has violated state voter-approved laws, including Prop. 13 and Prop. 218, and the constitution. 

Aquafornia news KQED News

These invasive 20-pound rodents could wreak havoc on California agriculture

Merced County sweet potato farmer Stan Silva hadn’t even heard the word “nutria” until a few months ago. He’s still never seen one, but he’s worried about the damage these 20-pound rodents with big orange buck teeth could do in California if they’re not eradicated. “It would be devastating,” Silva says. “They can basically ruin the ag industry here — they get in your fields, burrow into your canal ways, your waterways.” They can also tear up crops and levees, making the state’s water infrastructure more vulnerable.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Imperial Irrigation District fight could threaten federal Colorado River drought plan

A fierce local battle over water rights unfolding in a small Southern California courtroom Wednesday could threaten federal plans to replenish rapidly dwindling Colorado River water supplies. A third-generation farmer is seeking an injunction to block the Imperial Irrigation District from signing on to the seven-state compact. The hearing comes a day-and-a-half after the longtime general manager for the district, Kevin Kelley, announced he will retire at year’s end, though he could stay on as a consultant.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, DC, Bureau

Trump promised California $500 million extra for fire prevention. It was an error.

After touring the devastation of the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif. on Saturday, President Donald Trump announced that the federal government would provide an additional $500 million in funding to the 2018 farm bill for forest management to help mitigate future fires.

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Tour Nick Gray

Central Valley Tour 2019

This tour ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Brown, Newsom send State Water Board letter requesting to delay Wednesday’s vote

Those who depend on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers for agriculture and drinking water may have received a reprieve Tuesday night. The State Water Resources Control Board was set to adopt a proposal to double the amount of water allowed to flow unimpeded down the rivers and out to the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta on Wednesday.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Water sustains everything in California farm country. It may also save this House Republican.

When county officials from California flew across the country last month to hear President Trump speak at the White House, they got an earful from the commander in chief. Trump slammed the Golden State, which has suffered through more than five years of severe drought that ended only last year, for sending its water out to sea rather than using it to nourish crops. … The latest water struggle involves the California State Water Resources Control Board, which is set to decide whether to allow more water to flow through the San Joaquin River and its tributaries.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

How next week’s expected State Water Board vote could trigger a flood of lawsuits

Most signs point to the State Water Board approving a much-disputed river flow plan next week that will mean less water for farms and cities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. The board, also known as the State Water Resources Control Board, is set to vote Wednesday to require irrigation districts to leave more water in the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers in an effort to restore salmon.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

In this California House race, water is ‘lifeblood.’ Will an edge on the issue give Denham a boost?

Jake Wenger grows walnuts on land where early settlers arrived in search of gold and instead found rich soil. His orchards just west of Modesto stretch 700 acres and supply a nut company that has remained in his family for four generations. Like other farmers in this congressional district at the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley, Wenger, 34, said he fears his livelihood is under siege by a state plan to reduce the waters diverted from Northern California rivers for irrigation.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Trump’s memo aids farmers and GOP congressmen

It didn’t take long for the press releases to fly after President Donald Trump signed his recent memo — surrounded by GOP members of Congress — “promoting the reliable supply and delivery of water in the West.” Except for a few minor changes, most of the press releases issued by those congressmen said the same thing – that “environmental extremists and overzealous bureaucrats” have created a water crisis in California that has wreaked havoc in Central Valley farming communities.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tule elk are eating too much grass in Pt. Reyes. Should they be shot so dairy cows can graze?

The last several years, about 20 tule elk have taken up residence on Nunes’ historic “A Ranch,” one of a handful of private dairy farms and cattle ranches that sit inside the federally-owned Point Reyes National Seashore.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Marijuana is emerging among California’s vineyards, offering promise and concern

It is the fall harvest here in this fertile stretch of oaks and hills that produces some of the country’s best wine. This season, though, workers also are plucking the sticky, fragrant flowers of a new crop. Marijuana is emerging among the vineyards, not as a rival to the valley’s grapes but as a high-value commodity that could help reinvigorate a fading agricultural tradition along the state’s Central Coast.

Tour Nick Gray

Northern California Tour 2019
Field Trip - October 2-4

Explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as we learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants will get an on-site update of Oroville Dam spillway repairs.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Oakdale Irrigation District has new tunnel for some of its Stanislaus River water

The Oakdale Irrigation District has completed a $15 million tunnel that bypasses a section of canal at risk of rock slides. The 5,949-foot tunnel a few miles east of Knights Ferry is the 10th that OID has built since it formed in 1909 to tap the Stanislaus River. One machine bored from the east and one from the west after the project launched in September 2017, with a break for the 2018 irrigation season.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Meet The Newest Recruits In California’s War On Climate Change: Carbon Farmers

He is among more than 80 farmers now engaged in a state-funded program aimed at increasing carbon concentrations in California’s soil. Part of the state’s overarching goal of curbing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change, the California Healthy Soils Initiative took effect a year ago, when the state’s cap-and-trade program made $7.5 million available in small grants to farmers like Poncia. This year, the Healthy Soils Program, one component of the initiative, is receiving about $15 million.

Aquafornia news Yale Environment 360

In the Heart of the Corn Belt, an Uphill Battle for Clean Water

Runoff from farms and feedlots has badly polluted Iowa’s waterways, more than half of which do not meet federal quality standards. Now, an unlikely coalition is calling for stricter controls to clean up the drinking water sources for millions of the state’s residents.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Stanislaus County appeals ruling that would make it harder for farmers to dig wells

Stanislaus County will ask the state Supreme Court for a ruling on whether environmental review is a necessary step for a new water well. In August, a state appeals court overturned the Stanislaus Superior Court’s decision in the Protecting Our Water lawsuit, which sought an injunction against county well permit approvals.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Delta farmer says the state poisoned his crops

For years, state boats have sprayed thousands of pounds of herbicides into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to kill invasive aquatic weeds. And, for years, California officials have insisted they closely monitor their chemical use to protect the ecologically fragile estuary and the drinking and irrigation water the Delta supplies to millions of Californians. A pending court case casts fresh doubt on those claims.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles reduces Eastern Sierra water deliveries because of climate change

The lush plains east of Yosemite National Park offer a window into a bygone California — a place where sage grouse welcome the arrival of spring with theatrical mating rituals and cattle graze on verdant pastures. For nearly a century, these lands have been made green thanks to annual flooding by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, helping maintain cattle forage and keeping alive a culture of ranching in southern Mono County.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: In the battle over rivers, court case could clobber farmers

California farmers are laboring under a daunting edict: They must stop over-pumping groundwater from beneath their ranches. The saving grace is that state law gives them more than 20 years to do it. Now, however, a landmark court ruling could force many farmers to curb their groundwater consumption much sooner than that, landing like a bombshell in the contentious world of California water.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Florida company fined $5.3 million for ‘ripping’ Tehama County field

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that a farming company has agreed to pay $5.3 million in civil penalties and costs to perform work to repair disturbed streams and wetlands on property near the Sacramento River. … “Like the Duarte settlement last year, today’s agreement serves the public interest in enforcement of the Clean Water Act and deterrence of future violations,” said Jeffrey H. Wood, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division.

Aquafornia news Western Water

When water worries often pit farms vs. fish, a Sacramento Valley farm is trying to address the needs of both

Farmers in the Central Valley are broiling about California’s plan to increase flows in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems to help struggling salmon runs avoid extinction. But north of Sacramento, River Garden Farms is taking part in some extraordinary efforts to provide the embattled fish with refuge from predators and enough food to eat. And while there is no direct benefit to one farm’s voluntary actions, the belief is what’s good for the fish is good for the farmers.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California’s water wars heat up at Sacramento hearing over river flows

Central Valley farmers and their elected leaders converged on Sacramento on Tuesday to accuse the state of engineering a water grab that puts the fate of fish above their fields and jeopardizes a thriving agricultural economy. The allegations came at a meeting of the powerful State Water Resources Control Board, which recently unveiled a far-reaching plan to shore up the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the West Coast’s largest estuary and a source of water for much of California.

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