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 SJV Water

State funding to retire valley farmland could more than double under Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget

A state program aimed at retiring and repurposing farmland could get $60 million – more than doubling its current funding – under Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget. The Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program was created with $50 million from the 2021 state budget. The program helps pay for farmland to be taken out of production and repurposed to less water intensive uses. Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley have pumped groundwater for crops without limits for generations. But groundwater levels are plummeting …

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Aquafornia news Grist

How the “exchange contract” pits California farmers against each other

[On the southeast side of California’s Central Valley] farmers are pumping unreliable groundwater to make up the difference, hoping their already struggling wells don’t go dry … Others will rip up their trees and leave their fields fallow. … About 100 miles away, on the northwest side of the Central Valley, the situation could not be more different. Even during an unprecedented drought, the almond and pistachio farmers around the city of Los Banos will get around 75 percent of a normal year’s water … The startling contrast is the result of an obscure and contentious legal agreement known as the exchange contract …

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Aquafornia news ABC 23 - Bakersfield

Water shortage impacting California cotton farmers

The California Department of Food and Agriculture says that more than 90% of the cotton harvested in California has been grown in the San Joaquin Valley but continuing dry weather is posing significant challenges for growers. Consumer demand is driving the market for cotton, including high-quality Pima cotton now reaching record levels of more than $3 a pound. But as California faces another dry year many farmers in Kern County are impacted not only by an increase in price but also by a decrease in production.

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Aquafornia news Entrepreneur

Opinion: Farmers don’t have enough water. Can AI help?

For the fourth time in 10 years, farmers I know in California are facing a harsh reality — they won’t see a drop of water from federal government reserves to supplement the little bit they’ll get from Mother Nature. … Precision agriculture — the use of technology like networked sensors and artificial intelligence — is helping farmers get by without the water they once had. The efficiencies are real, and the impact is tangible. I’ve seen up close how precision agriculture is making a difference for farms facing extreme drought.
-Written by Michael Gilbert, CEO of Semios, helping farmers use data to optimize every acre.

Aquafornia news Comstock's Magazine

After the blaze: Climate change creates challenging conditions for California wineries

Wildfires signal perhaps the most immediate threat California’s $43 billion viticulture industry faces from a warming California. Yet they’re far from the only challenge. Wineries from the San Joaquin Valley to the Sierra Nevada foothills are all suffering from intensifying droughts and hot, almost endlessly dry seasons. Both problems are predicted to get worse in the coming decades.  For grape farmers, that could be devastating: The rainless skies of the last two years resulted in highly stressed crops and seriously diminished yields.

Aquafornia news GV Wire

Hurtado wants feds to probe hedge funds’ acquisition of water rights

State Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Bakersfield) and state Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) are calling for U. S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate possible drought profiteering and water rights abuses in the western states. … A county supervisor in Arizona joined the California state senators in calling for the investigation. … In addition to raising anti-trust questions, Hurtado and Cortese expressed concern about the potential for hedge funds to divert water intended for food production to cannabis growing operations.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Priceless seeds, sprouts in New Mexico key to post-fire future in US West

New Mexico State University’s Forestry Research Center in the mountain community of Mora is one of only a few such nurseries in the country and stands at the forefront of a major undertaking to rebuild more resilient forests as wildfires burn hotter, faster and more often. … With no shortage of burn scars around the West, researchers and private groups such as The Nature Conservancy have been tapping New Mexico State University’s center for seedlings to learn how best to restore forests after the flames are extinguished. The center has provided sprouts for projects in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Texas and California … 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Sacramento Valley struggles to survive record water cuts

Three years ago, when he sank everything he had into 66 acres of irrigated pasture in Shasta County, [farmer Josh] Davy thought he’d drought-proofed his cattle operation. He’d been banking on the Sacramento Valley’s water supply… But this spring, for the first time ever, no water is flowing through his pipes and canals or those of his neighbors: The district won’t be delivering any water to Davy or any of its roughly 800 other customers.

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Aquafornia news The Revelator

The fight for an invisible fish

The Clear Lake hitch is one of 13 species endemic to California’s largest, oldest and now most toxic lake. Known as chi to local tribes, the hitch teeter on the edge of extinction, a fate to which their cousins, two other formerly endemic lake species — the thicktail chub (last seen in 1938) and the Clear Lake splittail (last seen in the 1970s) — have already succumbed. Clear Lake hitch are vanishing because of our unabated appetites for fossil fuels, sportfishing, irrigation water and wine. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Interior watchdog finds David Bernhardt did not violate lobbying laws

The Interior Department’s internal watchdog on Thursday said it found no evidence that former secretary David Bernhardt violated lobbying laws regarding a former client, a California water district that is the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier, although he continued to advise them on legislative matters on occasion after he stopped being their lobbyist.

Aquafornia news NBC Los Angeles

It’s about water, not just illegal drugs, officials say of rampant pot grows

Illegal pot grows were already a problem in the High Desert, but during the pandemic, the number increased, and now officials say with scarce water resources in Southern California, it’s a drought problem too. The NBC4 I-Team has been following the efforts to eradicate illegal marijuana operations in the high desert region of Southern California. On May 17, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced a new operation targeting those operations. The problem exploded during the pandemic with illegal marijuana grow operations quickly multiplying in High Desert communities. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Accusations continue to fly between two valley ag titans in water feud

The ongoing water feud between two of Kings County’s biggest farming entities recently spilled into Kern County and up to Sacramento with allegations on both sides of misuse of water and other public resources. In a May 12 letter, the Southwest Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency complains that the J.G. Boswell Company has been pumping and storing massive amounts of groundwater for irrigation in a shallow basin, subjecting it to extreme evaporation and contributing to the area’s already significant subsidence problems.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Commentary: A creative approach can help Russian River, farmers

On May 10, the California State Water Resources Control Board readopted an emergency regulation that stands to force 2,000 water-rights holders to curtail water diversions for another year. (See related story on Page 10.) The emergency action is being used to make water available to senior diverters, minimum instream flows and minimum health and human safety needs. … As an alternative to a full curtailment action being applied to a diverter, water-right holders in the upper watershed (north of Dry Creek in Sonoma County) can instead voluntarily sign up to participate in the program to receive some lower percentage of their typical reported water use.
-Written by Frost Pauli, a Mendocino County winegrape and pear grower and is chair of the Mendocino County Farm Bureau Water Committee. 

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications

California is spending big on repurposing—not saving—farmland, argue critics

California lawmakers and the governor are hashing out the final details for investing billions of state dollars into a drought relief plan with long-term water investments and some benefits to farmers.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Farmers across state face new water cuts

With 60% of the state now in extreme drought conditions, state officials are warning water-right holders that they should expect more curtailments during peak irrigation season in June and July. … Drought emergency curtailment regulations were issued last fall by the California State Water Resources Control Board for certain watersheds in response to persistent dry conditions and spurred by a drought emergency declaration by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Curtailment orders adopted last year are effective for up to one year unless readopted.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Interior authorizes $240 million for water infrastructure repair

The Interior Department is doling out more than $240 million for repairs to aging water infrastructure in the drought-ridden West, one of the first investments with ramifications for agriculture in the $1.5 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law enacted last year.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Why salmon and rice go so well together

The rice farmer John Brennan … [is] collaborating with the scientist Jacob Katz to turn a piece of the Sacramento Valley, specifically in the Yolo Bypass, into a floodplain that can be home to baby Chinook salmon during the winter months, as they make their way down the river system to the Pacific. Their experiment, aptly named the Nigiri Project (in reference to the beds of seasoned sushi rice draped in little blankets of raw fish), involves flooding Brennan’s rice fields once the grain has been harvested so that the depleted stalks can decompose in the water, thereby making those nutrients available to bugs and plankton, which then serve as food for schools of growing salmon. 

Aquafornia news Law360

Blog: Court declines to lift blockade on water laws targeting pot

A California federal judge has declined to lift an injunction on two Northern California county ordinances that require strict permits for the transport of water, saying that while the local laws were enacted to quash illegal cannabis farms, they’ve caused harm to a group of Hmong farmers. In a decision handed down Friday, Chief U. S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller found that although Siskiyou County had modified the ordinances, they were still likely to cut off water to a community of Hmong farmers within the county’s borders.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Newsom pitches $75M in drought relief for agriculture

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised budget proposal would set aside $75 million to aid small agricultural businesses as the drought deepens. The one-time assistance would provide grants ranging from $30,000 to $50,000, depending on the amount of lost revenue. The program would prioritize businesses in the hardest hit regions, such as the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys…. Newsom’s budget plan would allocate $100 million for repairing conveyance canals, which was part of a 2021 budget deal. But it would not add anything further.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Judge blocks water sanctions that would affect rural Asian immigrants

A federal judge struck down a second attempt by a Northern California county to dismiss a case against them for water sanctions that would leave the local Asian community without water.  … In the original complaint, plaintiff Der Lee compared living in Shasta Vista to his days hiding out in the Laos jungles — just now without water. Others explained that they only bathe once a week, are dehydrated and have had their food sources — crops and livestock — die from the lack of water access. As a result, many resorted to filling jugs with water in streams and local parks. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

How California can survive another historic drought

There is no end in sight for California’s drought. … I spoke to [professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis Jay Lund] via email this month and last. A lightly edited transcript follows. Francis Wilkinson: When we spoke last summer, you were optimistic about California’s capacity to manage drought and still prosper. Since then, the drought has not gotten better … Are you more worried now or are you still confident that California has enough water for its economy and its people? Jay Lund: Most of California’s economy and people will be fine, despite being affected by this drought. 

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought wipes out much of Sacramento Valley rice crop

Don Bransford has been growing rice in the fertile Sacramento Valley for 42 years. Not this summer. California’s worsening drought has cut so deeply into water supplies on the west side of the Valley that Bransford and thousands of other farmers aren’t planting a single acre of rice. … It’s spring in the Sacramento Valley, normally the season for planting rice. It’s the region’s most important crop, a $900 million-a-year business that employs thousands of workers and puts Valley agriculture on a global stage.

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Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Endangered fish and waterfowl find refuge at the Klamath Basin’s Lakeside Farms

[A crowd has gathered] to stock the pond with over 1,000 young C’waam and Koptu—Lost River and shortnose suckers, two endangered species that inhabit Upper Klamath Lake and that are at the heart of the area’s water conflicts. … The pond is part of an innovative restoration project at Lakeside Farms, which is just north of Klamath Falls. … Altogether, it’s a hopeful demonstration of cooperation in a region that has seen bitter fights between tribes, farmers, and wildlife advocates over who gets water.

Aquafornia news Calexico Chronicle

IID preparing water apportionment plan

The Imperial Irrigation District is preparing a water apportionment plan for Imperial Valley growers to rein in a projected water overrun after the federal government declared a water shortage, reducing the amount of water that Arizona, Nevada and Mexico can claim from the Colorado River. The IID holds the largest and most secure federal entitlement on the Colorado River, but current Bureau of Reclamation projections show the district exceeding its allocation by more than 92,000 acre-feet of water this year…. IID’s Ag Water Advisory Committee was scheduled to review the EDP proposal on Thursday, May 12.

Aquafornia news Patch - Healdsburg

CA drought: Russian River water draws in jeopardy

Thousands of water rights holders in the Russian River watershed could soon lose access to their water after state regulators approved emergency drought rules Tuesday. The State Water Resources Control Board voted unanimously to reauthorize the Division of Water Rights to issue “curtailment orders” for up to 2,000 rights holders in order to preserve water in Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino and to protect drinking water supplies and fish populations.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California’s new plan for carbon neutrality will make our lives radically different

More organic farming. Less driving. No more natural gas in new buildings. Electric off-road vehicles. For the first time in five years, California regulators have released an ambitious plan for tackling climate change. … Among the methods: encouraging Californians to eat plant- or cell-based products instead of meat. Doubling the amount of acres of cropland that are certified organic. … Restoring an immense amount of acreage in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — 130,000 acres under one scenario. For context, a state-funded project in the works that will convert 1,200 acres will have taken 20 years and $63 million when it’s complete.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

State rice acreage plummets amid water reductions

This time of year, the Sacramento Valley should be buzzing with tractors working the soil and planes dropping rice seed onto flooded fields as farmers ramp up planting. … There’s a lack of activity because more rice fields will go unplanted this season due to the drought and reduced water deliveries to farms. In its prospective plantings report released at the end of March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that California rice acreage will drop to 348,000 this year, the lowest since 1983-84. That’s compared to 407,000 acres last year and 517,000 acres in 2020.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Klamath Tribes sue feds over endangered sucker fish

Two species of endangered sucker fish could face extinction this year because the federal government let farmers take irrigation water from Upper Klamath Lake instead of leaving enough water in the lake for the fish born this year to survive, the Klamath Tribes claim. … Last year, the fight over the region’s water risked a standoff between extremist farmers who threatened to take control of the irrigation system the government had shut off in an effort to prevent the extinction of two species of endangered sucker fish sacred to the Klamath Tribes: the c’waam, or Lost River sucker and koptu, or shortnose sucker. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Maximizing benefits of solar development in the San Joaquin Valley

The implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) over the next two decades may require taking at least 500,000 acres of cropland in the San Joaquin Valley out of irrigated production (about 10%). To soften the blow on jobs and economic activity, it will be important to identify alternative land uses that generate income. Solar development is one of the most promising options.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

California water agencies get $100 million for aging dams, canals

Southern California desert water districts with aging or failing infrastructure won big federal funding Monday, with more than $100 million allocated for major dam and irrigation canal upgrades that will benefit the Coachella Valley and Imperial County. The projects are part of $240 million awarded from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds by the U.S. Department of the Interior on Monday. Among the biggest beneficiaries is the Coachella Valley Water District, which will get $60 million for lateral replacement irrigation pipelines and more for work on the Coachella Canal.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Cash for farmworkers? California lawmaker says new $20 million idea will help amid drought

A Democrat lawmaker from the central San Joaquin Valley wants to put cash in the hands of eligible farmworkers to help them deal with the devastation of California’s drought. Proposed by State Sen. Melissa Hurtado, a Democrat from Sanger, Senate Bill 1066 would allocate $20 million to create the California Farmworkers Drought Resilience Pilot Project, a state-funded project that would provide unconditional monthly cash payments of $1,000 for three years to eligible farmworkers, with the goal of lifting them out of poverty.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Five “f”unctions of the Central Valley floodplain

The Yolo Bypass is one of two large flood bypasses in California’s Central Valley that are examples of multi-benefit floodplain projects (Figure 1; Serra-Llobet et al., 2022). Originally constructed in the early 20th century for flood control, up to 75% of the Sacramento River’s flood flow can be diverted through a system of weirs into the Yolo Bypass and away from nearby communities (Figure 2; Salcido, 2012; Sommer et al., 2001). During the dry season, floodplain soils in the bypass support farming of seasonal crops (mostly rice). Today, the bypass is also widely recognized for its ecological benefits.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

To fight climate change, California approves seaweed that cuts methane emissions in cow burps

California dairy farms will soon be able to feed their cows seaweed to fight climate change after the state department of food and agriculture approved the use of a seaweed feed shown to reduce methane emissions from cow burps, the first in the U.S. to do so. On Friday, Blue Ocean Barns, which produces the red seaweed at a farm on the Big Island of Hawaii, announced that the supplement had been approved for use on both conventional and dairy farms. Called Brominata, the red seaweed variety has been shown to cut methane emissions in dairy cows by 52% over 50 days but so far has only been used in trials.

Aquafornia news The Nature Conservancy

Blog: Hamilton City

Rivers in California’s Central Valley like to go their own way: they expand, contract, meander and regenerate soil in the process. The historic movement of rivers is what made Central Valley soil so fertile. Naturally flowing rivers recharge and save water for people and nature, providing habitat for many species including four distinct runs of chinook salmon.  Before the early 20th century, the Sacramento River had one of the biggest salmon runs in North America …

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Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Groundwater law’s sinking of ag economy may have been overstated

As the deadline for local agencies to implement plans to reduce groundwater use approaches, a new study finds California’s landmark legislation may have less of an impact on the local agriculture economy than originally predicted. A study authored by Professor Michael McCullough on the effect of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in the Tule Sub Basin in the Central Valley … says by 2040, the deadline for local agencies to reach groundwater sustainability, the 2014 law will likely result in the loss of some crops, but probably not the more valuable ones, such as fruit and nuts…

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Aquafornia news CBS Bay Area

Marin Water Board rescinds emergency declaration for new watering rules

The Marin Water Board of Directors rescinded the county’s water shortage emergency declaration and updated its water use rules this week, adopting new requirements for outdoor irrigation and swimming pools. …Now that the water emergency has been canceled, residents are permitted to wash their cars at home, irrigate golf courses in areas outside of the green or tees, fill swimming pools but cover them when not in use, and install new landscaping and irrigation systems. Outdoor irrigation using overhead spray systems is permitted up to two days per week; drip irrigation is permitted up to three days per week.

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

California dairy farmers concerned over water scarcity

In the midst of a years-long drought, California is implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, creating even more concerns for the state’s dairy farmers. … The biggest impact for dairies may be not so much on the dairy facility but on the feed side. Without adequate water or certainty of water, the question is where the feed will come from. The implementation of SGMA is going to impact local forages, hay, silages and wheat …

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Aquafornia news NBC - Klamath Falls

Klamath Irrigation District says canals are in bad shape due to lack of water

The ongoing drought conditions only continues to make matters worse for Klamath irrigators and farmers. The Klamath Irrigation District says the canals it operates and maintains, haven’t seen water in over 18 months. Executive Director Gene Souza, says that on March 1st it opened the valve for the A Canal, a primary diversion point for Upper Klamath Lake. That allowed water to go into the system very slowly.

Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Opinion: California feeds us, but it’s in severe drought again. Time for a new idea

Chances are, you’ll eat something grown in California today. Its farms churn out a third of US-grown vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, and more milk than any other state. But as I’ve documented in many articles and in my 2020 book Perilous Bounty—released in paperback today, May 2—its water resources are dwindling, parched by climate change and a relentless expansion of thirsty nut groves. ..Where will we get our fruits and vegetables as California’s farms inevitably adapt to a hotter, drier new normal?
-Written by reporter Tom Philpott.

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Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

Indigenous farmers bring back crops adapted to hot, dry conditions

As the climate warms and the threat of water scarcity grows, a Native-governed nonprofit in Arizona is working to bring back Indigenous crops that are adapted to hot, dry conditions. The Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture trains Indigenous growers in traditional farming methods. And it shares seeds for a range of crops, including drought-tolerant varieties of squash, beans, and corn.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Why farmers often pay higher water rates and fees during drought

California walnut grower Tim McCord is at the dry end of the spigot, facing a zero-water allocation from the Central Valley Project, which is supposed to deliver to his local San Benito County Water District. … The farmer is not just concerned about his orchard; he’s also frustrated that he owes substantial water-related taxes to the district, and, if water is eventually delivered, he’ll be charged $309.75 per acre-foot — more than in non-drought years. McCord is not alone. During drought, it’s common for farmers across the West to pay higher water-related rates, assessments, fees and taxes than during wet years.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Valley could see a “mass migration” of farmworkers as land is fallowed under state groundwater law

Advocates are sounding the alarm for what they think could be the collapse of the San Joaquin Valley’s agriculture workforce. As drought continues to hammer the state and groundwater pumping restrictions take effect, farmland will need to be retired en masse. While there have been many conversations, including legislation, on how to support farmers during intermittent droughts, advocates say there has been little to no planning for what will happen to the nearly 167,000 farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley when swaths of farmland are permanently fallowed.

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Aquafornia news NBC News

Watch: Consequences of severe drought and climate change ripple across California

Water officials believe the past three years could end up as the driest in California’s history. State reservoir levels are alarmingly low, and measurements of the Sierra Nevada snowpack are “grim,” the state’s natural resources secretary tells Lester Holt. The drought is impacting the water supply for residents and farms, which supply critical crops for the nation.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

Siskiyou County’s sheriff is suddenly interested in policing ‘environmental crimes‘ (The rise of the nature cop)

Last summer, Siskiyou County’s recently appointed sheriff, Jeremiah LaRue, released a video on YouTube to explain two controversial new county groundwater laws. The drought was severe that year, he said, and the “wasteful extraction” of water for illegal cannabis cultivation was making it worse. … The environmentalist rhetoric and talk of water policy signaled a shift in how LaRue’s department policed the illicit cannabis industry. 

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Hurtado’s ag, water bills advance in Senate

Two bills authored by Democratic State Senator Melissa Hurtado, who represents the 14th district that includes Porterville, advanced in the Senate on Wednesday. SB 1219, Hurtado’s State Water Resiliency and Modernization Act passed the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.  Hurtado’s bill to prevent foreign purchases of agricultural property, SB 1064, the Food and Farm Security Act also passed the Senate Agricultural Committee 4-0.  

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Desperate for water, Wine Country grape growers build expensive pipelines to cities’ recycled sewage

Justin Seidenfeld’s vineyard ran out of water last year. The area of Petaluma where his Parliament Hills Vineyard is located received just 4.5 inches of rain throughout 2021, not nearly enough sustenance for his vines of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. … This year, however, Seidenfeld’s grapevines are healthy and happy, with plenty of water to drink. It’s not because of rainfall, but rather because of a newly constructed pipeline bringing recycled water from Petaluma’s water treatment plant to vineyards along Lakeville Highway.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Blog: Valley’s ‘water blueprint’ makes splash with statewide push for $6.5bil in water funds

A coalition of water stakeholder organizations from across California joined together to send a letter addressed to Gov. Gavin Newsom and six key legislators requesting action to address water issues. The nine page document dated April 19, 2022 was signed by 18 organizations and entities including the San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint and 10 Southern California, four Bay Area and three trade groups. The letter laid out the need to include a $6.5 billion appropriation in the 2022-2023 General Fund budget to strengthen statewide drought and flood resilience.
-Written by Don Wright, a contributor to The San Joaquin Valley Sun. 

Aquafornia news KRCR Chico

Butte County working to understand the impacts of the drought

During Tuesday’s Butte County Board of Supervisors Meeting, the board heard from Luhdorff and Scalmanaini Consulting Engineers, who they hired in December 2021 to do a drought impact analyst study. The results found that for agriculture: Areas that utilize surface water in normal years pump more in drought years, as is expected. Total cost of water compared to total cost of production remains low but may increase in the future… 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California bill would pay farmworkers amid drought, climate crisis

As worsening drought conditions in California and the West take a heavy economic toll on agriculture, state legislators are considering a plan to pay farmworkers $1,000 a month to help them cover the cost of necessities. The bill is meant to assist farmworkers who have fewer crops to tend as climate change limits the window for each growing season and cuts the Golden State’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Farming in a state of extremes

California’s agricultural sector is the nation’s largest, generating more than $50 billion in annual revenue and employing more than 420,000 people. But water supply has always been an issue in the drought-prone state, and that’s growing more pressing with the warming, increasingly volatile climate. … Escriva-Bou presented new findings from joint research with a team from UC Merced about how the ongoing drought is affecting the state’s farming regions, which suffered $1.1 billion in direct economic costs in 2021.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Water is the ‘lifeblood’ of Oregonians. How will the next governor manage a future of drought?

The Klamath Basin provides a cautionary tale for Oregon about the need to plan more intentionally and sustainably with its shrinking water supply. Though the state and its watersheds aren’t newcomers to drought, research suggests that climate change is magnifying the impacts of the region’s natural wet and dry cycles…. Oregon’s next governor will inherit a state whose ecosystems, economy and communities are enduring their driest period in 1,200 years. 

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Third year of drought pushes price of water to $2,000 an acre foot

A sale of agricultural water within the Panoche Water District on the upper west side of the San Joaquin Valley hit the eye-popping price of $2,000 per acre foot recently. The buyer bought 668 acre feet in a deal that was brokered by Nat DiBuduo with Alliance Ag Services. … Last year, the same sellers, also unnamed, sold water for $1,648 and $1,800 per acre foot, indicating how a third year of drought is pushing up the price of water, according to the broker.

Aquafornia news University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

Analysis: The Salton Sea – An introduction to an evolving system and the role of science

The Salton Sea, located in Southern California, is a saline terminal lake that has had many identities over the past century or so. Since its reincarnation in 1905 due to lower Colorado River flooding that partially refilled the Salton Sink, it has been California’s largest lake by surface area, covering approximately 350 square miles…. Yet with nearly 90% of its inflow comprised of agricultural drainage waters from the approximately 500,000 acres of irrigated farmland in the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), and exposure to an extremely arid climate that results in excessive evaporation … the Sea’s natural attractions have faded as the lake has become more polluted and nearly twice as saline as the ocean….

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Butte farmers propose new water district

A group of Butte County farmers, who rely solely on groundwater to farm mostly tree crops north of Chico, are one step closer to finalizing formation of a new water district. They say the new district will help future generations comply with a state regulation to bring groundwater supplies into balance in 20 years. … SGMA, signed into law in 2014, establishes a new structure for managing groundwater in California and requires groundwater sustainability agencies to manage groundwater locally and develop and implement plans to achieve long-term sustainability.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Colorado bid to dry up water speculation is circling the drain

A move to dry up water speculation once and for all in Colorado ended at the legislature despite intense supply pressures from drought and water developers, as lawmakers said they’re loath to hurt farmers’ ability to sell their most valuable asset.  The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee tabled the anti-speculation bill after first accepting an amendment to turn it into a between-sessions study of the problem. Technically, the measure could be revived, but the bill’s sponsors say the issue is over for this year. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Lawmaker says farmworkers need drought aid

A Democrat lawmaker from the central San Joaquin Valley wants to put cash in the hands of eligible farmworkers to help them deal with the devastation of California’s drought.  Proposed by State Sen. Melissa Hurtado, a Democrat from Sanger, Senate Bill 1066 would allocate $20 million to create the California Farmworkers Drought Resilience Pilot Project, a state-funded project that would provide unconditional monthly cash payments of $1,000 for three years to eligible farmworkers, with the goal of lifting them out of poverty.

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Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Delta voluntary agreements are a “plan to fail” in droughts

Rather than planning for droughts and ensuring that minimum water quality objectives are achieved in critically dry years, the proposed voluntary agreement appears to be a “plan to fail” to protect the Delta in future droughts.  Droughts are a fact of life in California, even as climate change is making them worse.  The Governor’s Water Resilience Portfolio recognizes the need to improve drought preparedness, requiring that the State to be able to protect fish and wildlife during a six year drought …

Aquafornia news Long Beach Post

Long Beach commission may further limit watering yards amid drought

The Long Beach Water Commission may upgrade the city’s water shortage level next week, which would bring with it new restrictions on when residents can water landscaping. Updating the city’s water shortage stage comes as California heads toward its third straight year of drought. The proposal to go to Stage 2, which would limit landscape irrigation to two days per week year-round, would take the city back to water conservation rules not seen since June 2016.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Nature

New research: A hybrid machine learning approach for estimating the water-use efficiency and yield in agriculture

Water resources are declining in many regions of the world. Due to climate change, increased air temperatures, and reduced precipitation, we will face a decline in water resources in the future. … Lampinen et al investigated soil and plant data and evapotranspiration for irrigation management of walnut trees in California, USA. Fernandes-Silva, by examining the effect of different irrigation regimes (dryland irrigation with 30% and 100% water requirement) on yield and WUE of olive, reported that crop evapotranspiration (ETc) is the most influential parameter in changes in fruit yield. 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Bill to aid farmworkers jilted by drought effects advances in Calif. legislature

A new bill aimed at bringing relief to farmworkers affected by the drought is now one step closer to becoming law. The bill, introduced by Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger), aims to provide financial assistance to farmworkers struggling to afford basic necessities. Wednesday it passed in a state senate committee, four to one. Senate Bill 1066 aims to create a program called the California Farmworkers Drought Resilience Pilot Project. The project is a state-funded supplemental pay program that would give eligible farmworkers $1,000 for three years.

Aquafornia news Marijuana Business Daily

California drought plan could exclude cannabis as growers prepare for dry summer

Heading into another brutally dry summer, struggling cannabis growers in California could be excluded from the state’s latest assistance plan to save water. A proposal by Gov. Gavin Newsom would pay farmers to not plant crops, known as fallowing, this year as drought conditions worsen. The plan with some of the state’s largest water providers earmarks $268 million in upfront payments for voluntarily leaving fields uncultivated, or fallowing.

Aquafornia news Mashed

The truth about salmon-safe alcohol

Northern California farmers use pumped river water during freezing spring nights to coat the growing grapes with a protective layer of ice, and without this protection there could be significant losses to crops. That water, however, comes from the homes of the hook-mouthed coho salmon and the threatened steelhead trout. Once plentiful, the coho salmon is now a protected species under threat (via NOAA Fisheries). Salmon-Safe seeks to protect important species in California and beyond, while still supporting the many brewery and winery industries that need water to thrive.

Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

Farmer experiments with crops as mountain runoff dwindles

To see the trickle-down effect of the drought, you don’t have to look much further than farms. Agriculture accounts for about 80% of the water used in California. … Selling fruit got tougher during the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining the farm got more expensive. Despite painstaking rationing and letting go of several productive acres, water remains Bernard’s most painful monthly expense. His February bill was as expensive as last June’s — normally one of the hottest and driest times.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Salmon recovery project to implement voluntary agreements being implemented on the Sacramento River

The Sacramento River Settlement Contractors are currently implementing another project on the Sacramento River just downstream from Keswick Reservoir that will contribute to the habitat targets established by the recently signed Voluntary Agreements Memorandum of Understanding. The 2022 Keswick Gravel Injection Project will provide much needed spawning habitat in the upper Sacramento River for endangered winter-run Chinook salmon.

Aquafornia news Cision PR

News release: Senator Paul Simon warned us about a coming shortage of fresh water

With historic droughts strangling the world, from California to Africa, Senator Paul Simon’s book Tapped Out: Water: The Coming Crisis and What We Can Do About it, is now available in paperback and as an eBook published by Inprint Books. … In Brazil, the current drought is one of the worst ever recorded. … In Madagascar, drought has left hundreds of thousands of people malnourished, pushing the country to the edge of famine. In the last two decades alone, the United Nations estimates drought has affected 1.5 billion people and led to economic losses of at least $124 billion.

Aquafornia news Craft Beer & Brewing

Water chemistry for brewers: How climate change is interfering with your most important ingredient

Brewers from Colorado to Wyoming to California are watching nervously as [drought] grows more acute. … [Mitch] Steele, who spent a decade as brewmaster at Stone Brewing outside San Diego, says most of Southern California’s water blends Colorado River water with Sierra Nevada mountain snowpack transferred via the California Aqueduct. Extreme drought conditions in California results in suppliers upping the blend percentage from the Colorado River, which picks up a large quantity of minerals as it travels the long distance.

Aquafornia news ABC 23 Bakersfield

Farmworker relief bill one step closer to becoming law

A new bill aimed at bringing relief to farmworkers affected by the drought is now one step closer to becoming law. The bill, introduced by Senator Melissa Hurtado, aims to provide financial assistance to farmworkers struggling to afford basic necessities. Wednesday it passed in a state senate committee, four to one. Senate Bill 1066 (see the full text below) was introduced by Hurtado and aims to create a program called the California Farmworkers Drought Resilience Pilot Project.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Arizona Central

Opinion: Water policy threatens our food supply as much as war in Ukraine

As the Ukraine war kindles fears of rising food prices, the recognition of a secure domestic food supply – driven in large part by irrigated agriculture in the Western U.S. – is something we need to talk about. … Government water policy decisions made in California and Oregon are currently withholding once-reliable water from farmers in order to meet perceived environmental priorities. In simple terms, our own government is actually voluntarily directing measures that restrict water to farmers. Sadly, this diminishes our food production capacity, and with it, our national security.
-Written by Paul Orme and Dan Keppen, both of the Family Farm Alliance.

Aquafornia news Random Lengths News

The color of water

Scattered across California’s San Joaquin Valley are colonias, the unincorporated communities home to some of the Valley’s poorest residents in one of the richest agricultural areas in the world. … Water access is a critical question in California. Former Governor Jerry Brown declared an official drought in 2014. The state today is even drier, and the declaration is still in force. Teviston, a tiny community established by African Americans in the 1940s, went completely without water for a month last summer when its only well stopped working.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Klamath Tribes: Plan will devastate critically endangered sucker fish

A Native American tribe in Oregon said Tuesday it is assessing its legal options after learning the U.S. government plans to release water from a federally operated reservoir to downstream farmers along the Oregon-California border amid a historic drought. Even limited irrigation for the farmers who use Klamath River water on about 300 square miles of crops puts two critically endangered fish species in peril of extinction because the water withdrawals come at the height of spawning season, The Klamath Tribes said. 

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

Valley farmers worried as groundwater levels remain low

Throughout western Fresno County, fertile land has been taken out of production because the irrigation supply isn’t stable enough to bring a crop to harvest. Many of Joe Del Bosque’s dry fields in Firebaugh will stay that way this season. … Without adequate surface water delivered from reservoirs, some growers must continue to pump groundwater from their wells. But the California Groundwater Live website shows 64% of monitored wells are below normal.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

California gives rivers more room to flow to stem flood risk

Between vast almond orchards and dairy pastures in the heart of California’s farm country sits a property being redesigned to look like it did 150 years ago, before levees restricted the flow of rivers that weave across the landscape. The 2,100 acres (1,100 hectares) at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers in the state’s Central Valley are being reverted to a floodplain. 

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Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Bay-Delta Voluntary Agreements – a sweetheart deal to subsidize agribusiness

Not only does the proposed Bay-Delta voluntary agreement wholly fail to provide the water that the environment needs, but even the woefully inadequate flows and the habitat restoration proposed in the VA would largely come from other water users and taxpayers, rather than the water districts that signed the MOU. … [P]art of the funding supposedly coming from water districts simply redirects existing fees they are required to pay under the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act ($10M/year). 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

A vast California lake is set to run dry. Scientists are scrambling to save its endangered fish

Entering a third year of drought, the once-vast Tule Lake, a vestige of the area’s volcanic past and today a federally protected wetland, is shriveling up. Its floor is mostly cracked mud and tumbleweed. By summer, the lake is expected to run completely dry, a historic first for the region’s signature landmark and the latest chapter in a broader, escalating water war.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

County exploring ways to use San Diego’s land to fight climate change

With high biodiversity and rich farmland, San Diego County is exploring ways to put the region’s land to use to cut carbon emissions. In an online public workshop Thursday, county officials explained ways to expand the use of wetlands, marshes, forests and agricultural lands to capture and store carbon through the county’s Regional Decarbonization Framework. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Sonoma County unveils first-ever proposed well water fees under pioneering California groundwater law

In a dramatic shift from California’s history of allowing landowners to freely pump and consume water from their own wells, Sonoma County’s rural residents and many others will soon begin paying for the water drawn from beneath their feet…. The residential fees are based on an assumption that rural residents typically pump a half-acre foot of well water a year. Most homes do not have water meters and none will be installed under the fee program. Large groundwater water users — including ranches, cities, water districts and businesses — would pay fees based on the volume of water drawn from their wells.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

What would Brian Dahle do as California governor?

As California sinks deeper into drought conditions, Dahle does not favor imposing mandatory water use reductions … He raised particular concerns, as a farmer, that harsh restrictions would further devastate California agriculture by forcing farms to fallow hundreds of thousands of acres of land. Dahle said the state should put a greater emphasis on increasing water storage by building the proposed Sites Reservoir. He also has a novel idea to improve water supply by thinning forests, a policy that would offer other benefits such as providing timber and reducing wildfire risks.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Drip irrigation cleans the air while saving water

Under the blistering sun of Southern California’s Imperial Valley, it’s not surprising that subsurface drip irrigation is more effective and efficient than furrow (or flood) irrigation, a practice in which up to 50% of water is lost to evaporation. But a recent study also concludes that drip irrigation can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from soil – which contribute to climate change and unhealthy air quality in the region – without sacrificing yields of forage crops alfalfa and sudangrass.

Aquafornia news Food & Water Watch

Blog: Ventura County farmers urge passage of measures A and B to protect water resources

Amid the sweeping backdrop of the Topatopa Mountains and a field of colorful organic vegetables, members of the Ventura County farming community joined advocates and water experts to urge the passage of Measures A and B. The twin ballot measures would close a loophole in Ventura County allowing oil and gas companies to drill without environmental review using antiquated permits. In most cases, these permits were granted between 1930 and 1970. Cynthia King’s farm, where the press conference took place, is surrounded by a CUP that was approved in 1928. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Friday Top of the Scroll: Gov. Newsom’s drought order brings ag well activity to a standstill in some areas

Valley groundwater agencies are mired in confusion and concern over Gov. Newsom’s March 28 executive drought order, which added new steps for permitting agricultural wells, according to agencies’ staff.  As groundwater agency managers scramble to hash out exactly how to comply with the order, well permits in some areas are stuck in limbo leaving well drillers and small farmers without answers — or water.

Related articles: 

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.

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. 

Aquapedia background

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 California Water
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use. New in this 10th edition of the guide is a section on the human need for water. 

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.

Publication

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

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.