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 Bay City News

Report shows some progress on groundwater storage

The good news is that the San Joaquin Valley has managed to store a little more groundwater since the drought of 2016. The bad news is that it is hard to keep account of what’s working and what’s not. On Tuesday, the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonprofit policy research organization, released an update report on the replenishment of groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the areas of the state that is heavily dependent on groundwater. The report also identified those basins best suited to accept water recharge operations, with the highest number being in the eastern and southern regions of the valley. 

Related groundwater articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Petition asks California’s highest court to wade into Kern River legal fracas

Plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit over the Kern River filed a petition asking the California Supreme Court to review an order that tossed out an injunction many had anticipated would guarantee a flowing river through Bakersfield. Specifically, the petition asks the Supreme Court to direct the 5th District Court of Appeal to explain why it stayed the injunction that had required enough water in the river to keep fish in good condition. The Supreme Court petition was filed June 11. The 5th District issued what’s known as a “writ of supersedeas” May 3 setting aside the injunction and staying all legal actions surrounding the injunction, which had been issued by Kern County Superior Court Judge Gregory Pulskamp last fall.

Aquafornia news E&E News

California lawmaker drops plan to regulate senior water rights holders

Assemblymember Buffy Wicks is killing her proposal to increase state regulators’ authority over the owners of California’s oldest, most senior water rights amid intense opposition from water agencies, farmers and business groups. Wicks’ legislative director Zak Castillo-Krings confirmed Tuesday that she was pulling the bill, A.B. 1337, which passed the Assembly last year but has been awaiting a hearing in the Senate. The decision comes after water users reached a deal last week with Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan on a bill, A.B. 460, to increase fines for water theft. Both bills emerged last year after three years of historic drought exposed the state’s limits in overseeing water use.

Aquafornia news Popular Science

California’s billionaire utopia may not be as eco-friendly as advertised

Silicon Valley billionaires are still aggressively moving forward with their attempt to create a utopian, sustainable “city of yesterday” near San Francisco atop what they describe as “non-prime farmland.” However, an accredited land trust now claims California Forever’s East Solano Plan is intentionally misleading local residents about the “detrimental harm” it will cause ecosystems, as well as its potential to “destroy some of the most self-reliant farmland and ranchland” in the state. … [A]s CBS Sacramento first reported on June 7, Solano Land Trust’s executive director Nicole Braddock contends California Forever’s aim “really goes against our mission of protecting working farms, natural areas, land and water Solano County.” Additionally, the influx of as many as 400,000 new residents would result in “a detrimental impact on Solano County’s water resources, air quality, traffic, farmland, and natural environment,” according to the trust’s board of directors.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: California and tribal partners secure critical water supply to support Native American farmers

Working together to support local Tribal farmers, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe have expedited two water transfers to meet immediate water supply needs and to address long-term demands north of the Tulare Lake area. Working with the Tulare Lake Irrigation District, DWR and the Tachi Yokut Tribe entered into a contractual agreement to institute both a temporary and permanent transfer of water resulting in over 600-acre feet of additional water for the area. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Sparks fly as Tulare County agency is accused of being “unable and unwilling” to curb over pumping

Fireworks were already popping between board members of a key Tulare County groundwater agency recently over an 11th hour attempt to rein in pumping in the severely overdrafted area. The main issue at the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) meeting June 6 was whether to require farmers in subsidence prone areas to install meters and report their extractions to the agency, which is being blamed for almost single handedly putting the entire subbasin in jeopardy of a state takeover. … In the end, the Eastern Tule board voted 6-0 to require all landowners in the subsidence management area along the canal to meter their wells and report extractions by January 1.

Related groundwater articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Madera farmers and groundwater agency in limbo waiting for court decision on fees

The end of a two-year legal fight over who should pay, and how much, to replenish the groundwater beneath Madera County could be in sight. A motion to dismiss the lawsuit by a group of farmers against the county is set to be heard June 18.  The outcome could determine whether Madera County, which acts as the groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) for hundreds of thousands of acres across three water subbasins, can finally move forward on a host of projects to improve the water table per the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). From the farmers’ point of view, the outcome of this case could make or break their farms, some that have been in their families for generations.

Related groundwater article: 

Aquafornia news Wine Industry Advisor

Drip drop: California’s water supply is replenishing — but unevenly

… All might be well in Lodi, but some other regions reported cuts in their 2024 water supply. In the Westlands Water District, which manages the water supply on the westside of Fresno and Kings counties, a Westlands spokeswoman said the agency was allocated less water than it had contracted for: “[It’s] an incredibly disappointing and unjustifiably low allocation for our district water users,” she said.  How is this possible, given the state’s historic rain and snow in the 2023 water year and optimistic forecasts for the 2024 water year? As of May 31, precipitation stood at 104% of normal for the state, while major reservoirs are at 118% of normal, according to figures compiled by California Water Watch.

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Aquafornia news Civil Eats

‘Plasticulture’ in farming persists, potentially impacting food safety

Today, it’s common to see farms covered in plastic. It lines the sides of greenhouses, blankets fields as “plastic mulch,” covers hoop houses, and winds through farms as irrigation tubes, among other forms. In satellite images, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has observed the typically golden and green agricultural fields turned white, as though dusted in snow, from all of the plastic. Agriculture is responsible for 3.5 percent of global plastic production, a figure that may seem small until you consider the sheer volume of plastics produced: around 400 million metric tons per year. … Microplastics pervade every part of the Earth, from the bottom of the ocean floor to all forms of drinking water to the human placenta. 

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Napa Valley has lush vineyards and wineries – and a pollution problem

Famous for its lush vineyards and cherished local wineries, Napa Valley is where people go to escape their problems. … What the more than 3 million annual tourists don’t see, however, is that California’s wine country has a brewing problem – one that has spurred multiple ongoing government investigations and created deep divisions. Some residents and business owners fear it poses a risk to the region’s reputation and environment. At the heart of the fear is the decades-old Clover Flat Landfill (CFL), perched on the northern edge of the valley atop the edge of a rugged mountain range. Two streams run adjacent to the landfill as tributaries to the Napa River. 

Aquafornia news Corning Observer

Spannaus to represent Corning on groundwater commission

The City of Corning will now be represented by Martin Spannaus on the Tehama County Flood Control and Water Conservation District Groundwater Commission upon the resignation of Cody Lamb, who had served on the commission since June 2023. Spannaus’s appointment received unanimous approval from the City Council during its May 28 meeting. Spannaus is the city’s former fire chief. … Spannaus and his wife, Joann, live on a cattle and hay ranch west of Corning in the Corning Groundwater Subbasin, which currently sits at a “high” priority rating.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Commentary: How can California overcome water wars to create a resilient supply?

California is a semi-arid state in which the availability of water determines land use, and in turn shapes the economy. That, in a nutshell, explains why Californians have been jousting over water for the state’s entire 174-year history. The decades of what some have dubbed “water wars” may be approaching a climactic point as climate change, economic evolution, stagnant population growth and environmental consciousness compel decisions on California’s water future. A new study, conducted by researchers at three University of California campuses, projects that a combination of factors will reduce California’s water supply by up to 9 million acre-feet a year – roughly the equivalent of all non-agricultural human use.
-Written by CalMatters columnist Dan Walters.

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Aquafornia news TID Water & Power

News release: Brad Koehn appointed general manager at Turlock Irrigation District

The Turlock Irrigation District (TID) Board of Directors has appointed Brad Koehn as General Manager, effective June 21, 2024. Koehn will replace Michelle Reimers who announced her resignation on May 31, 2024, after an 18-year career with the District. Koehn has been with TID for 13 years and has held various leadership roles at the District, most recently serving as the Chief Operating Officer since 2020. … Koehn is a licensed professional engineer and land surveyor in the State of California, and joined the District in 2011 as the Civil Engineering Department Manager. In 2018, he was appointed to Assistant General Manager of the Power Supply Administration. Prior to working at TID, Koehn spent 16 years in private practice engineering, most recently co-owning a local civil engineering firm.

Aquafornia news Valley Ag Voice

Placing Central Valley’s dairy industry and wetlands in focus 

Wetlands are the Earth’s largest natural source of methane — a potent greenhouse gas roughly 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere — according to the Department of Energy’s Larence Berkeley National Laboratory.   Methane is a key point of controversy among dairy producers and the environmental justice community given that dairy and livestock are responsible for over half of California’s methane emissions, according to the California Air Resources Board.   However, a peer-reviewed paper recently published by CABI Biological Sciences argues that the state’s dairy sector can reach climate neutrality in the coming years through aggressive methane mitigation which almost no other sector can achieve.  

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Opinion: A California case of stealing water comes up nearly empty

It’s not every day that a former source gets indicted. So when a San Joaquin Valley water manager was charged by federal prosecutors two years ago with allegedly stealing millions of dollars worth of water for lavish personal gain, it stopped me cold. It simply did not square with the person that I thought I knew. Former general manager Dennis Falaschi of the Panoche Water District ended up agreeing to a plea deal last week, acknowledging that he stole some water and falsified some income on a tax return. But upon any objective examination, the deal is far more of a black eye to federal prosecutors than to Falaschi himself because the feds had accused him of stealing $25 million worth of water – more water than some California cities use annually. The government utterly failed to prove anything close to its original case.
-Written by columnist Tom Philp. 

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

UC study examines organic strawberry costs

A new study that can help growers and other readers estimate costs and potential returns for Central Coast organic strawberries was recently released by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, UC Cooperative Extension and the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. “This study provides growers with a baseline to estimate their own costs, which can help when applying for production loans, projecting labor costs, securing market arrangements, or understanding costs associated with water and nutrient management and regulatory programs,” said Brittney Goodrich, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and study co-author.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Counting groundwater: The devil is in the details

A lengthy complaint alleging secretive, self-dealing on the part of a prominent farmer and board member on a key Tulare County groundwater agency slogged through a Fair Political Practices Commission investigation over the past four years resulting in, essentially, a slap on the wrist late last month. Eric L. Borba, former chair of the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency, was found in violation of the state’s disclosure rules at the Commission’s April 25 meeting for not listing his ownership in several ditch companies including the value of those water assets. He was ordered to revamp his Form 700s, which public board members and executives must file each year, and pay a $5,400 fine. The Form 700s now list Borba’s ownership, through a variety of entities, in five area ditch companies. 

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

First female GM resigns at Turlock CA Irrigation District

Michelle Reimers is resigning as general manager of the Turlock Irrigation District after four years in the job. The water and power utility announced the decision, effective June 21, in a news release Friday. Reimers was its first female GM and had started there as a public information officer in 2006. “She does not have anything specific that she is moving to right away and is looking forward to exploring new ways in which she can impact the water and power industries,” said an email from Constance Anderson, communications division manager.

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Aquafornia news Milk Producers Council

Blog: Water blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley builds momentum

When the state of California began to implement and enforce the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act some nine years ago, it became clear that without change, there will not be enough sustainably available groundwater to support all of the irrigated acres that are currently in production. With that decline in agriculture, the businesses, communities and tax base that depends on those farms would be very negatively impacted as well. This reality prompted a wide variety of interests in the San Joaquin Valley to form a “coalition of the willing” that came to be known as the Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley (Blueprint). The dairy industry was one of those interests. Over 90% of California milk production is located in the San Joaquin Valley, much of which is designated by the State as “critically overdrafted.” On behalf of Milk Producers Council, I have been involved with the Blueprint from the beginning. Here is an update on the progress of the Blueprint.

Aquafornia news Deseret News

Will salt doom the Colorado River?

Salinity in the Colorado River is a huge problem and threatens to impact seven states, 30 Native American tribes and Mexico because all those entities share this finite resource that flows for more than 1,400 miles, provides water for 40 million people and irrigates 5 million acres of farmland. To that end, Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, presented his bill, the Colorado River Salinity Fix Act, during a Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries hearing earlier this month. The legislation addresses the excessive salinity levels in the Colorado River, which have significant environmental and economic impacts on Utah and other Western states.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Are farm fields a hidden source of microplastics?

…  the fields that grow our food are filthy with plastic waste — the direct result of modern farming’s increasing reliance on the signature material of the Anthropocene. Whether incidentally littered onsite or directly diffused into the soil via polymer-coated chemical pellets, plastic is now embedded both in agricultural practices and the tilled earth itself. It leaks into waterways, might be poisoning our food, and is virtually unregulated.  Nobody knows what to do about it. “Now we have it, and it’s the devil … it’s a global menace,” says Tom Willey, a retired certified organic farmer in the San Joaquin Valley who reluctantly used plastic sheet “mulch” for about 20 years ago on his farm near Madera. … From Modesto to Manteca, from Davis to Petaluma, and throughout the Delta and North Bay regions, plastic sheeting for hoop-style greenhouses and groundcovers are seen in fields beside public roads and waterways, sometimes strewn in windblown rags and tatters, waiting for disposal.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Opinion: We’re here, and we want our Salton Sea protected

The Salton Sea is more than a district priority, and it is disheartening to learn that many state officials view it as a problem for only our local officials to solve. Over the next few weeks Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Assembly and the Senate will make crucial decisions about our state budget and a potential Climate Resilience Bond. It is vital for them to understand that protecting the Sea is a statewide priority. The Salton Sea is surrounded by several unique and rapidly growing communities across Riverside and Imperial counties, ranging in size from 231 residents in Bombay Beach to approximately 44,000 residents in El Centro. All these communities face significant health risks and environmental justice concerns related to the Salton Sea and a number of other issues in the region.
-Written by Dora Cecilia Armenta, who has lived with her family of four in Salton City for 29 years. She is an active community partner with Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability; and Mariela Loera, the Eastern Coachella Valley Regional Policy Manager with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. 

Aquafornia news Audubon Magazine

Tricolored blackbirds once faced extinction—here’s what’s behind their exciting comeback

… The vast majority of Tricolored Blackbirds spend their whole lives in California. A handful breed in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Baja California, and at least 20 of the birds were spotted last year in Idaho. Most, however, nest in the San Joaquin Valley, and many are known to breed a second time in the early summer months—often 50 to 100 miles north in the wetlands and willows of the Sacramento Valley. It’s here, too, that the birds feed on rice in the fall. They often browse the paddies alongside other blackbirds—including the very similar Red-winged Blackbird—that farmers can legally cull as pests. This has inevitably led to losses of Tricolors over the years.      Although the species’ native nesting habitat has been almost entirely removed from California, they’ve adapted with varying success to shifting land use. Where vineyards and orchards have replaced grassland and marsh, the blackbirds have mostly disappeared.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Modesto supplier gets few takers for excess river water

Above-average storms have allowed the Modesto Irrigation District to offer Tuolumne River water to nearby farmers who normally tap wells. It is getting few takers. The program is designed to boost the stressed aquifer generally east of Waterford, just outside MID boundaries. The district board on Tuesday debated whether to drop the price to spur interest, but a majority voted to leave it unchanged. The discussion came amid a state mandate to make groundwater use sustainable by about 2040. MID does not have a major problem within its territory, which stretches west to the San Joaquin River. But it is part of a regional effort to comply with the 2014 law. This includes out-of-district sales of Tuolumne water in years when MID’s own farmers have plenty. That was the case in 2023, one of the wettest years on record, and this year thanks to storage in Don Pedro Reservoir.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Powerful Kern water agency paid more than $600,000 to oust its longtime attorney

A settlement agreement obtained by SJV Water shows the longtime attorney for the Kern County Water Agency was paid $640,000 when she was fired in March. The agency voted to fire Attorney Amelia Minaberrigarai after a March 18 special meeting. She had just three months left on her contract. The agency stated she was not fired for cause, which meant she was entitled to be paid for the remaining months on her contract, or about $80,000. Instead, she received $640,000 in exchange for not suing the agency, according to the settlement agreement. The agency also agreed to treat Minaberrigarai as a “retiring employee,” meaning she was also paid for any sick or vacation time she had banked.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: A new challenge targets Arrowhead bottled water pipeline

Environmental activists have opened a new front in their long-running fight against a company that pipes water from the San Bernardino Mountains and bottles it for sale as Arrowhead brand bottled water. In a petition to the state, several environmental groups and local activists called for an investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, arguing that the company BlueTriton Brands is harming wildlife habitat and species by extracting water that would otherwise flow in Strawberry Creek. Those who oppose the taking of water from San Bernardino National Forest want the state agency to assess the environmental effects and uphold protections under state law, said Rachel Doughty, a lawyer for the environmental nonprofit Story of Stuff Project.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Greens lose case to protect fish in California water fight

Federal agencies and California farmers fended off a challenge by environmentalists seeking greater protections for several vulnerable fish species, as an appeals court Thursday upheld the handling of long-disputed irrigation water contracts. In the latest round of a fight that’s dragged on for decades and isn’t over yet, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the Biden administration properly considered the impact of the irrigation water deliveries on the delta smelt and Chinook salmon. Both species are protected by the Endangered Species Act.

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Aquafornia news Reuters

Mexico front-runner Sheinbaum aims to reform water-heavy agriculture sector

Claudia Sheinbaum, front-runner in Mexico’s presidential race, aims to overhaul water governance in the agriculture sector, the top user of the country’s scarce supply, with a potential investment of 20 billion pesos ($1.2 billion) per year. Julio Berdegue, a member of Sheinbaum’s campaign team focused on water and the agricultural sector, told Reuters the candidate’s six-year plan will review existing water concessions, crack down on illegal use, update irrigation technology and revamp national water entity CONAGUA. He cautioned the plan, details of which have not previously been reported, was still in development and could change. Sheinbaum has said she plans to reform the National Water Law and develop a strategy to confront pervasive issues in Mexico, which is suffering from crippling drought, widespread water shortages, and heat waves in recent days so severe that howler monkeys are dropping dead from trees.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Cover crops could enhance groundwater recharge – a lot – but agencies aren’t embracing the concept

Cover crops could be an important tool in groundwater management but are being unintentionally disincentivized by groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs,) according to a new study. GSAs haven’t done enough analysis or incentivization of cover crops, according to authors of the study. In fact, the study suggests some GSAs are putting a negative spin on the use of cover crops by accounting for their water usage but excluding their water benefits. … [The study] was a collaborative effort between many organizations and agencies including the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and nonprofit Sustainable Conservation. 

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Water bill aims to bolster protections for electric utilities, others

Lawmakers aim to amp up protections for water used by Colorado’s largest electric utilities with a broadly supported bill based on recommendations from water experts around the state. Senate Bill 197 would help electric utilities hold onto water rights that could otherwise be declared “abandoned” as the state transitions to clean energy. It would also enhance protections for environmental and agricultural water, and ease access to funding for tribes. The bill grew out of water policy recommendations developed by the Colorado River Drought Task Force in 2023. The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, is the legislature’s main effort this year to address those recommendations — and to help Colorado address its uncertain water future. Polis has until June 7 to sign the bill, allow it to become law without his endorsement or veto it.

Aquafornia news Western Fram Press

Commentary: A grower’s grower – Organic farms are all natural

Innovations and improvements are ongoing in the field of agriculture as immortalized by a poet centuries ago who wrote, “Nothing stays the same, save eternal change.” Fortunately for farmers, something creative is always on the horizon that will make things faster, easier, and sometimes even cheaper.  One such evolution involves organic growing and how it differs from conventional farming. Developed in the early 1900s, the concepts of organic agriculture included use of animal manures, cover crops, rotation of crops, and biologically based pest controls.  Encyclopaedia Britannica calls it, “A sustainable agriculture system that evolved as a response to the environmental harm caused by chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Compared with conventional agriculture, organic farming uses less pesticide, reduces soil erosion, decreases nitrate leaching into groundwater and surface water, and recycles animal wastes.”
-Written by contributing writer Lee Allen. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kings County Farm Bureau blames one local water board for state intervention; demands heads roll

The fallout and recriminations in Kings County continue over the state Water Resources Control Board’s historic decision to place the Tulare Lake subbasin on probation for failing to come up with a cohesive plan to protect the region’s groundwater. The Kings County Farm Bureau, which has already sued the Water Board over the probationary designation, is now demanding the resignations of the manager and entire board of directors of one local water board, saying they are at fault for putting the region in jeopardy with the Water Board. The Farm Bureau is seeking to oust Kings County Water District General Manager Dennis Mills and all of the district’s board members. Mills and three of those board members also sit on the Mid-Kings River Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA).

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Journalist & Author Mark Arax to provide Keynote Address at 3ʳᵈ International Groundwater Conference in June

Mark Arax, an award-winning journalist and author of books chronicling agriculture and water issues in California’s Central Valley, will provide the keynote talk at an international groundwater conference next month. The event, Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture: The 3ʳᵈ International Conference Linking Science & Policy, returns to San Francisco June 18-20 for the first time since 2016 and will highlight advances on sustaining groundwater in agricultural regions across California and around the world. Arax, author of The Dreamt Land, West of the West and The King of California, is from a family of Central Valley farmers. He is praised for writing books that are deeply profound, heartfelt and nuanced. He will do a reading from his latest book The Dreamt Land and comment on the future of groundwater in the Valley during his keynote lunch talk on June 18.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

CDFA wants to streamline reporting regs

California’s agriculture agency has released a concept paper proposing ways to streamline ag-related food safety and water quality reporting requirements. The paper is part of a regulatory alignment study led by the state Department of Food and Agriculture in coordination with the California Environmental Protection Agency and the State Water Resources Control Board. Officials said the objective is to reduce paperwork for farmers and ranchers. Informed by a broad range of interviews and feedback, the proposals presented in the concept paper serve as a foundation and are not final recommendations.

Aquafornia news Holland & Knight

Blog: The FDA’s new pre-harvest agricultural water rule – impacts on PFAS-contaminated groundwater?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration – acting under its Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), as amended, 21 U.S.C. § 2201 et seq., to address the safety of all FMSA-covered produce other than sprouts (Covered Produce) – on May 6, 2024, issued a final rule that amended its 2015 rule on the safety of produce. With certain exceptions for growers of Covered Produce, the FDA’s new rule requires pre-harvest agricultural water assessments for hazard identification and risk management decision-making purposes. Requirements for harvest and post-harvest use of agricultural water have not changed. The FDA regulated sprouts specifically in an earlier pre-harvest agricultural water regulation that remains applicable to that produce.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kings County Farm Bureau sues state for placing the region on probation because of groundwater woes

The Kings County Farm Bureau and two of its farmer members have filed suit against the state Water Resources Control Board, claiming the board exceeded its jurisdiction when it placed the Tulare Lake groundwater subbasin on probation April 16. A writ of mandate was filed May 15 in Kings County Superior Court. A writ is an order asking a governmental body, in this case the Water Board, to cease an action. The farm bureau is asking the board to vacate the resolution, which was passed unanimously. “The board’s decision to place the (Tulare Lake Subbasin) on probation violated the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and expanded the board’s authority beyond its jurisdiction,” a Kings County Farm Bureau press release states.  The filing asks for declaratory and injunctive relief, and cites eight causes of action under the writ that the “probationary designation is arbitrary, capricious, and lacking in evidentiary support.” 

Related groundwater articles: 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Supporting farms and domestic food production for america

In today’s globalized world, ensuring that Americans can depend on local food production is more critical than ever. The California Farm Water Coalition, dedicated to raising awareness about the connection between farm water and our food supply, has released three educational fact sheets shedding light on the water needed to produce the food Californians consume daily, and the risk we face from unsustainable foreign food production. California’s population of 39 million requires a staggering 11.3 trillion gallons of water annually to grow enough food and fiber to meet its needs, as described in the fact sheet, “Where Does Farm Water Go?”. However, current water supplies fall short, leaving a gap of 38 percent between the water used to grow our food and the demand on food production by the state’s population.

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Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Corcoran has sunk nearly 5 feet

Land subsidence remains the biggest issue in the new state regulation of groundwater. The state Water Board reports that subsidence measured as much as 7 feet just east of Corcoran between June 2015 and January 2024. Groundwater pumping west of Highway 99 has caused the land to sink at least 4 to 5 feet according to a DWR database. The worry here is the collapse of water delivering infrastructure. Tulare Lake farmers have been asked to install metering on their pumps 90 days after the decision to put the GSA on probation which was made April 16. That means by mid-July pumpers must install metering as well as begin reporting how much water they are extracting.

Aquafornia news Farm Progress

Focus on high-value veggies turns profit for California farms

In a region where many farm businesses plant, harvest and process countless fresh vegetables nearly 365 days a year, it’s no surprise that Monterey County, Calif., landed as one of Farm Futures’ Best Places to Farm. … “It’s one of five or six true Mediterranean climates in the world, so we can produce fresh leafy greens, veg and berries almost year-round,” says Norm Groot, executive director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau. Growers here are highly specialized. Dole Food Co., for example, has a team of people dedicated solely to harvest; an average lettuce harvest crew has 35 people who can harvest 2 acres a day. Growers must understand tricky state and federal regulations, labor negotiations, and water restrictions. Yet, they’re motivated by strong market prices driven by dynamic domestic and global demand that fluctuates quickly.

Aquafornia news Valley Ag Voice

Revised state budget cuts $500 million for water storage, Sites Reservoir slowly inching forward

Governor Gavin Newsom’s May Revision of the state budget plan released on May 10, aims to address a “sizable deficit” of roughly $56 billion into 2026. The multi-billion-dollar deficit is in stark contrast to the $97.5 billion budget surplus that Newsom projected in the 2022-23 state budget. Several budget cuts, amounting to over $30 billion were announced, including a $500 million cut to water storage projects. These discretionary spending cuts delay certain funding sources for water-storage projects such as the planned Sites Reservoir north of Sacramento. While funding awarded under Proposition 1 — a voter-approved 2014 ballot initiative to support various water projects — will not be affected by the budget crisis, the California Farm Bureau explained in a press release that $500 million in discretionary funding to support the project would be cut.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Colorado River: Bill would allow killing of rare species to get deal done

Imperial Irrigation District officials have figured out how to surmount a key hurdle to complete a Colorado River conservation deal worth nearly $800 million: pushing to have California legislators quickly pass a bill that would immediately give them the power to kill endangered fish and birds. District staff, the bill’s sponsor and environmentalists say that likely wouldn’t occur, thanks to funding to create habitat elsewhere, and due to backstop federal species protections that are actually stronger than the state’s. But it is a counter-intuitive piece of lawmaking that has upset one longtime critic. What’s driving the legislation are a tiny desert pupfish and two types of birds, all nearing extinction, which have found unlikely refuge in the Imperial Valley’s concrete drainage channels and marshy areas by the fast-drying Salton Sea.

Related Salton Sea and endangered species articles: 

Aquafornia news Sustainable Conservation

Report: Multi-disciplinary committee jointly publishes report on the intersection of SGMA and cover crop water use in California’s Central Valley

A multi-disciplinary authorship group of over 30 individuals has published a report comprised of literature review, policy analysis, and recommendations pertaining to the water impacts of cover crop practices in California’s Central Valley under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The report, entitled “Cover Cropping in the SGMA Era,” is the product of a convening process jointly developed by the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD), California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), Natural Resources Conservation Service of California (NRCS-CA), and University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and assembled by Sustainable Conservation.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Calif. almond crop projected for major growth in 2024

California’s almond crop this year is expected to increase by 21 percent compared to 2023, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The USDA expects the almond crop to total around three billion pounds, a significant boost from the 2.47 billion pounds produced last year. Driving the news: California’s lofty almond production projections are driven by favorable weather for the first half of the growing season, according to an analysis from the USDA. … If California’s almond crop projections are accurate, 2024 would be the second-best year on record in the last decade. 

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Bird flu may be driven by this overlooked factor

As federal officials grapple with how to contain the highly contagious strain of avian flu that has infected chickens, turkeys, and dairy cattle on farms across the U.S., a number of scientists are pointing to one factor that could be driving the spread of its virus and its spillover from wild birds to farm animals. Waterfowl—ducks, geese, and swans—are the primary host of the viruses, and large animal agriculture facilities are often found in close proximity to their remaining wetland habitats. For instance, California’s Central Valley and the East Coast’s Delmarva Peninsula are both critical wintering grounds for waterfowl, along major North American bird migration routes, and epicenters of U.S. poultry production. As a result, some scientists who track waterfowl question whether this geographic overlap—alongside the shrinkage of waterfowl habitats—creates more opportunities for the virus to spread between infected waterfowl and the animals in agricultural facilities.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news ABC News

US dedicates $60 million to saving water along the Rio Grande as flows shrink and demands grow

The U.S. government is dedicating $60 million over the next few years to projects along the Rio Grande in southern New Mexico and West Texas to make the river more resilient in the face of climate change and growing demands. The funding announced Friday by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland marks the first disbursement from the Inflation Reduction Act for a basin outside of the Colorado River system. While pressures on the Colorado River have dominated headlines, Haaland and others acknowledged that other communities in the West — from Native American reservations to growing cities and agricultural strongholds — are experiencing the effects of unprecedented drought.

Aquafornia news Pacific Sun

Have SF water policies led to salmon collapse?

[Tuolumne River Trust's policy director Peter] Drekmeier’s beef with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission goes back years and rests on the premise that the agency stores far more water than it needs in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, on the upper Tuolumne, at the expense of the river downstream. The commission’s water management plan is based on the unlikely possibility of an 8.5-year drought—a theoretical disaster dubbed the “design drought” that critics consider overkill. … Environmentalists insist the agency could take a more fish-friendly approach, releasing more water through O’Shaughnessy Dam into the Tuolumne River while still providing adequate supplies for its 2.7 million customers.

Related Delta fishery articles: 

Aquafornia news The Hill

California almond crop forecasts up 21 percent after wet and mild winter

Thanks to favorable weather conditions, California’s almond crop for 2024 is expected to be 21 percent greater than last year’s final output, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports. The almond crop should amount to about 3 billion pounds, as opposed to the 2.47 billion pounds generated in 2023, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service Pacific Regional Office, based in Sacramento. … Mature almond trees in the southern Sacramento Valley can consume 41 to 44 inches of water in an average year when water use is unrestricted, while those in Central California’s San Joaquin Valley can use as much as 50 to 54 inches, according to data from the University of California, Davis.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern agencies prepare to submit third groundwater plan in hopes it’s the charm that wards off state pumping takeover

In an effort to avoid the fate of their neighbors to the north, Kern County water managers are putting the finishing touches on a new groundwater plan they hope will stave off probation in order to keep state bureaucrats from taking over local pumping. The county’s 20 groundwater agency boards began approving final changes to the plan, which is actually six identical plans, last week in expectation of submitting them to the state Water Resources Control Board by May 28. The goal is to stay out of probation, which is where the Tulare Lake subbasin ended up after a hearing before the Water Board on April 16. Tulare Lake covers almost all of Kings County. Now, under probation, most Kings County growers will have to register their wells at $300 each and report extractions starting July 15.

Related groundwater articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Third San Joaquin Valley groundwater basin recommended for state probation

Subsidence has reared its head again as a key factor cited by state Water Resources Control Board staff for recommending that the Kaweah groundwater subbasin be placed on probation – the first step toward possible state takeover of groundwater pumping. The recommendation was contained in a draft report released May 6, which set Nov. 5 for Kaweah’s hearing before the Water Board. Subsidence was listed as a major factor in similar staff reports for the Tulare Lake and Tule subbasins. Tulare Lake was, indeed, placed on probation by the Water Board April 16 and the Tule subbasin comes before the board Sept. 17. The Kaweah  report  identified additional challenges for water managers in the subbasin, which covers the northern half of Tulare County’s valley portion into the eastern fringes of Kings County.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Friant lawsuit over sinking canal altered but moving forward

One of multiple charges in a lawsuit that pins blame for the perpetually sinking Friant-Kern Canal on a single Tulare County groundwater agency was recently removed. The Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency (ETGSA) hailed the move as vindication. But plaintiffs, the Friant Water Authority and Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, said the change was simply meant to narrow the complaint in order to get faster action against Eastern Tule. The stakes could not be higher as the entire Tule subbasin, which covers the southern half of Tulare’s valley portion, is looking down the barrel of a possible pumping takeover by the state Water Resources Control Board.  The Water Board, the enforcement arm of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, has scheduled a “probationary hearing” for the subbasin Sept. 17.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Local farmer who hosted a president honored in Sacramento

A local ag industry titan is being recognized for his lifelong service in farming and civic life. Assemblymember Esmeralda Soria has recognized Firebaugh farmer Joe L. Del Bosque as her office’s 2024 Latino Spirit Award Honoree. Following years of migrant farm work, Del Bosque’s family established themselves on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley, where he grew up on the farm with his father, going to work at age 10. He graduated from Fresno State in 1975 and then his started own operation in 1985. Del Bosque Farms produces organic melons, tomatoes, almonds and cherries. Del Bosque is a vocal advocate for farmers and farmworkers impacted by water policies.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Tim Johnson and California rice

Tim’s story unfolds with his entry into the rice industry back in 1996, when he assumed the role of Marketing Projects Coordinator for the California Rice Promotion Board. Tasked with promoting rice both domestically and internationally, Tim quickly found himself immersed in the intricacies of the industry. Little did he know that this role would mark the beginning of a lifetime career in California rice production and agriculture. A pivotal moment in Tim’s career came with the formation of the California Rice Commission a few years later, where he was appointed as its first executive. This transition, as Tim fondly recalls, marked a significant milestone in his professional trajectory—a journey that began with humble beginnings, including his days working on a Frito-Lay truck right out of college.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Agencies race to fix plans to sustain groundwater levels

Seeking to prevent the California State Water Resources Control Board from stepping in to regulate groundwater in critically overdrafted subbasins, local agencies are working to correct deficiencies in their plans to protect groundwater. With groundwater sustainability agencies formed and groundwater sustainability plans evaluated, the state water board has moved to implement the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA. … Under probation, groundwater extractors in the Tulare Lake subbasin face annual fees of $300 per well and $20 per acre-foot pumped, plus a late reporting fee of 25%. SGMA also requires well owners to file annual groundwater extraction reports.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Commentary: As farmers endure disasters, relief is slow in coming

Catastrophic weather events wreaked havoc on U.S. agriculture last year, causing nearly $22 billion in crop and rangeland losses, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. California accounted for $1.14 billion of that figure, including nearly $880 million in damages from severe storms and flooding. The figures represent a significant shift from previous years, when drought and wildfires were California’s biggest challenges. Since then, atmospheric rivers, Tropical Storm Hilary and other weather events battered our farming communities.
- Written by Matthew Viohl, director of federal policy for the California Farm Bureau

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Commentary: Where does water wind up? You might be surprised

Water, the essence of life, is an indispensable resource intricately woven into the fabric of our daily existence. From the food on our plates to the gadgets in our hands, water silently plays a pivotal role in the creation of almost everything we encounter. In a world where water scarcity is a looming concern, it is essential to explore the profound impact of water in the production of goods and services that shape our lives as well as the food we feed our families.
-Written by Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition

Tour Nick Gray

Northern California Tour 2024
Field Trip - October 16-18

Click here to register!

Explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape while learning 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.

Water Education Foundation
2151 River Plaza Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833

Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture
3ʳᵈ International Conference Linking Science & Policy

REGISTRATION CLOSED

Join us June 18-20 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport for the 3ʳᵈ International Conference, Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture: Linking Science & Policy. Organized by the Water Education Foundation and the UC Davis Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair, the conference will provide scientists, policymakers, agricultural and environmental interest group representatives, government officials and consultants with the latest scientific, management, legal and policy advances for sustaining our groundwater resources in agricultural regions around the world.

The conference keynote address will be provided by Mark Arax, an award-winning journalist and author of books chronicling agriculture and water issues in California’s Central Valley. Arax comes from a family of Central Valley farmers and is praised for writing books that are deeply profound, heartfelt and nuanced including The Dreamt Land, West of the West and The King of California. He will do a reading from his latest book The Dreamt Land and comment on the future of groundwater in the Valley during his keynote lunch talk on June 18.

Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
1333 Bayshore Hwy
Burlingame, CA 94010
Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2024
Field Trip - March 13-15

Tour participants gathered for a group photo in front of Hoover DamThis tour explored the lower Colorado River firsthand where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to some 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas Strip South
7830 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89123
Tour Nick Gray

Eastern Sierra Tour 2023
Field Trip - September 12-15

This special Foundation water tour journeyed along the Eastern Sierra from the Truckee River to Mono Lake, through the Owens Valley and into the Mojave Desert to explore a major source of water for Southern California, this year’s snowpack and challenges for towns, farms and the environment.

Grand Sierra Resort
2500 E 2nd St
Reno, NV 89595

Northern California Tour 2023
Field Trip - October 18-20

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape while learning 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.

Water Education Foundation
2151 River Plaza Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833

Northern California Tour 2022
Field Trip - October 12-14

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape while learning 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.

Water Education Foundation
2151 River Plaza Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833
Tour Nick Gray

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2022
Field Trip - November 2-3

This tour traveled along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Hampton Inn & Suites Fresno
327 E Fir Ave
Fresno, CA 93720
Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2023
Field Trip - March 8-10

This tour explored the lower Colorado River firsthand where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to some 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139

Central Valley Tour 2022
Field Trip - April 20-22

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.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.

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2022
Field Trip - March 16-18

The lower Colorado River has virtually every drop allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139
Tour Nick Gray Jenn Bowles

Northern California Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - October 14

This tour guided participants on a virtual exploration of the Sacramento River and its tributaries and 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 Nick Gray Jenn Bowles Layperson's Guide to the Delta

Bay-Delta Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - September 9

This tour guided participants on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.

Lower Colorado River Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - May 20

This event explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour. 

Lower Colorado River Tour 2020
Field Trip - March 11-13

This tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Silverton Hotel
3333 Blue Diamond Road
Las Vegas, NV 89139

Central Coast Tour 2019
Field Trip - November 6-7

This 2-day, 1-night tour offered 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 that have potential applications statewide.

Northern California Tour 2019
Field Trip - October 2-4

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as participants learned 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 got an on-site update of Oroville Dam spillway repairs.

Tour

Lower Colorado River Tour 2018

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2019

This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119

Northern California Tour 2018

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as participants learned 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 got an on-site update of repair efforts on the Oroville Dam spillway. 

Tour

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2018

Participants of this tour snaked along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

Fishery worker capturing a fish in the San Joaquin River.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Groundwater Replenishment

Groundwater replenishment happens through direct recharge and in-lieu recharge. Water used for direct recharge most often comes from flood flows, water conservation, recycled water, desalination and water transfers.

Announcement

To Prop 1 and Beyond! Aligning Local, State & Federal Dollars for a Resilient Watershed
Learn more at the Santa Ana River Watershed Conference May 25th in Ontario

Water is expensive – and securing enough money to ensure reliability and efficiency of the state’s water systems and ecosystems is a constant challenge.

In 2014, California voters approved Proposition 1, authorizing a $7.5 billion bond to fund water projects throughout the state. This included investments in water storage, watershed protection and restoration, groundwater sustainability and drinking water protection.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Climate Change Impacts Here to Stay for California Farmers, Grower Says

California agriculture is going to have to learn to live with the impacts of climate change and work toward reducing its contributions of greenhouse gas emissions, a Yolo County walnut grower said at the Jan. 26 California Climate Change Symposium in Sacramento.

“I don’t believe we are going to be able to adapt our way out of climate change,” said Russ Lester, co-owner of Dixon Ridge Farms in Winters. “We need to mitigate for it. It won’t solve the problem but it can slow it down.”

Aquapedia background

Xeriscaping

From the Greek “xeros” and Middle Dutch “scap,” xeriscape was coined in 1978 and literally translates to “dry scene.”  Xeriscaping, by extension, is making an environment which can tolerate dryness. This involves installing drought-resistant and slow-growing plants to reduce water use.

Aquapedia background

Irrigation

Irrigation is the artificial supply of water to grow crops or plants. Obtained from either surface or groundwater, it optimizes agricultural production when the amount of rain and where it falls is insufficient. Different irrigation systems are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but in practical use are often combined. Much of the agriculture in California and the West relies on irrigation. 

Aquapedia background

Salinity

Excess salinity poses a growing threat to food production, drinking water quality and public health. Salts increase the cost of urban drinking water and wastewater treatment, which are paid for by residents and businesses. Increasing salinity is likely the largest long-term chronic water quality impairment to surface and groundwater in California’s Central Valley.

Western Water Excerpt Jenn Bowles

Allocating Water in a Time of Scarcity: Is it Time to Reform Water Rights?
July/August 2015

California’s severe drought has put its water rights system under scrutiny, raising the question whether a complete overhaul is necessary to better allocate water use.

(Read the excerpt below from the July/August 2015 issue along with the editor’s note. Click here to subscribe to Western Water and get full access.)

Introduction

California’s severe drought has put its water rights system under scrutiny, raising the question whether a complete overhaul is necessary to better allocate water use.

Western Water Magazine

The View From Above: The Promise of Remote Sensing
March/April 2015

This issue looks at remote sensing applications and how satellite information enables analysts to get a better understanding of snowpack, how much water a plant actually uses, groundwater levels, levee stability and more.

Tour Images from the Central Valley Tour

Central Valley Tour 2015
Field Trip (past)

This 3-day, 2-night tour, which we do every spring, travels the length of the San Joaquin Valley, giving participants a clear understanding of the State Water Project and Central Valley Project.

Aquapedia background Dams

Friant Dam

Friant DamLocated just north of Fresno, the Friant Dam helps deliver water as it runs towards the Merced River, though its environmental impacts have caused controversy.

Western Water Magazine

Nitrate and the Struggle for Clean Drinking Water
March/April 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses the problems of nitrate-contaminated water in small disadvantaged communities and possible solutions.

Western Water Magazine

Keeping It Down on the Farm: Agricultural Water Use Efficiency
March/April 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines agricultural water use – its successes, the planned state regulation to quantify its efficiency and the potential for greater savings.

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

Shaping the West: 100 Years of Reclamation Water
May/June 2002

The Reclamation Act of 1902, which could arguably be described as a progression of the credo, Manifest Destiny, transformed the West. This issue of Western Water provides a glimpse of the past 100 years of the Reclamation Act, from the early visionaries who sought to turn the arid West into productive farmland, to the modern day task of providing a limited amount of water to homes, farms and the environment. Included are discussions of various Bureau projects and what the next century may bring in terms of challenges and success.

Video

Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

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

Maps & Posters California Water Bundle

California Water Map
Updated December 2016

A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect gift for the water wonk in your life.

Our 24×36-inch California Water Map is widely known for being the definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the state. On this updated version, it is easier to see California’s natural waterways and man-made reservoirs and aqueducts – including federally, state and locally funded projects – the wild and scenic rivers system, and natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects, wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado River.

Maps & Posters

San Joaquin River Restoration Map
Published 2012

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

Maps & Posters

Klamath River Watershed Map
Published 2011

This beautiful 24×36-inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The map text explains the many issues facing this vast, 15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration; agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement, and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Maps & Posters

Truckee River Basin Map
Published 2005

This beautiful 24×36-inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Truckee River Basin, including the Newlands Project, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe. Map text explains the issues surrounding the use of the Truckee-Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe water quality improvement efforts, fishery restoration and the effort to reach compromise solutions to many of these issues. 

Maps & Posters

Nevada Water Map
Published 2004

This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, illustrates the water resources available for Nevada cities, agriculture and the environment. It features natural and manmade water resources throughout the state, including the Truckee and Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake and the course of the Colorado River that forms the state’s eastern boundary.

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants, rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation. Excellent for elementary school classroom use.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Agricultural Drainage
Updated 2001

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

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project explores the history and development of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery system. In addition to the project’s history, the guide describes the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project provides an overview of the California-funded and constructed State Water Project.

The State Water Project is best known for the 444-mile-long aqueduct that provides water from the Delta to San Joaquin Valley agriculture and southern California cities. The guide contains information about the project’s history and facilities.

Publication California Groundwater Map

Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background and perspective on groundwater. The guide explains what groundwater is – not an underground network of rivers and lakes! – and the history of its use in California.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law
Updated 2020

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing
Updated 2005

The 20-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing provides background information on water rights, types of transfers and critical policy issues surrounding this topic. First published in 1996, the 2005 version offers expanded information on groundwater banking and conjunctive use, Colorado River transfers and the role of private companies in California’s developing water market. 

Order in bulk (25 or more copies of the same guide) for a reduced fee. Contact the Foundation, 916-444-6240, for details.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Klamath River Basin
Published 2023

The Water Education Foundation’s second edition of the Layperson’s Guide to The Klamath River Basin is hot off the press and available for purchase.

Updated and redesigned, the easy-to-read overview covers the history of the region’s tribal, agricultural and environmental relationships with one of the West’s largest rivers — and a vast watershed that hosts one of the nation’s oldest and largest reclamation projects.

Publication

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - Paperback

The story of water is the story of California. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Publication

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - hardbound

The story of California is the story of water. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Keeping It Down on the Farm: Agricultural Water Use Efficiency
March/April 2012

There are two constants regarding agricultural water use – growers will continue to come up with ever more efficient and innovative ways to use water and they will always be pressed to do more.

It’s safe to say the matter will not be settled anytime soon, given all the complexities that are a part of the water use picture today. While officials and stakeholders grapple to find a lasting solution to California’s water problems that balances environmental and economic needs, those who grow food and fiber for a living do so amid a host of challenges.

Aquapedia background

Land Retirement

Land Retirement

Land retirement is a practice that takes agricultural lands out of production due to poor drainage and soils containing high levels of salt and selenium (a mineral found in soil).

Typically, landowners are paid to retire land. The purchaser, often a local water district, then places a deed restriction on the land to prevent growing crops with irrigation water (a source of salt). Growers in some cases may continue to farm using rain water, a method known as dry farming.

Aquapedia background

Evaporation Ponds

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

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

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

Aquapedia background

Coachella Valley

The Coachella Valley in Southern California’s Inland Empire is one of several valleys throughout the state with a water district established to support agriculture.

Like the others, the Coachella Valley Water District in Riverside County delivers water to arid agricultural lands and constructs, operates and maintains a regional agricultural drainage system. These systems collect drainage water from individual farm drain outlets and convey the water to a point of reuse, disposal or dilution.