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 CW 31- Good Day Sacramento

Adding to state water woes, illegal pot growers in Nevada County steal water anywhere they can get it

As if California’s dire dry season wasn’t already difficult, thieves are making matters even worse. Illegal pot growers are stealing water anywhere they can get it. That’s why the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office has a warning that investigators are cracking down. … But beyond stealing water, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is also finding the illegal grows lead to large environmental impacts due to poor cultivation practices and waste contaminating water resources. 

Aquafornia news North Bay Bohemian

Salmon suffer in a state of drought

Environmentalists say the San Joaquin watershed needs more water. So do state officials, who in 2018 ordered water users to give a large share of water back to the San Joaquin and its tributaries, notably the Tuolumne. But the fight to restore this ailing ecosystem has turned political, and environmentalists leading the effort are facing an unlikely foe the water service provider for one of the most liberal cities in the country.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Drought has desperate ranchers asking: “Can I feed tomorrow?”

California may only be one year into the drought, but its toll feels much bigger to San Joaquin Valley livestock operators. … Andrée Soares, president of Star Creek Land Stewards, Inc [is] based in Los Banos on the west side of the valley but her animals are often spread up and down the state doing targeted grazing for fire prevention. Soares doesn’t know where her animals will be in the next few months or how they will eat. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news KCRW

It takes 400 gallons of water to grow a bread loaf, so don’t trash it, says ‘Eat Less Water’ author

Water is part of nearly every aspect of the farm-to-table supply chain. So how can people eat food that takes less water to grow, clean and prepare?  Florencia Ramirez, author of “Eat Less Water,” found that one way to cut water consumption is by buying organic and seasonal food, whether at farmer’s markets or your local grocery stores.  But even before making those trips, Ramirez says that the main priority should be cutting down on food waste because food that ends up in a landfill wastes a lot of water. 

Aquafornia news The Street

The water risks facing California: New index offers future price visibility

A new futures contract based on the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index provides longer-term visibility into the price of water, according to Roland Fumasi of RaboResearch. California is facing another dry summer in 2021, and for agricultural producers, that means a difficult growing season. … The situation has put a strain on the state’s traditionally fragile water resources, resulting in water price spikes for producers looking to sustain their crops.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Heat waves and climate change pose huge risk to workers

Surging temperatures across the West Coast this summer are exposing another way that the changing climate threatens the country’s future: the danger it poses to workers, particularly those who work outside and in warehouses. The issue has become such a concern that the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has put a new heat illness rule on a list of agenda items for the Biden administration to consider, calling it a top priority. … After a series of deaths in the fields, California instituted what were then the country’s most stringent protections for farmworkers, in 2005, and has updated those laws since.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern River water rights case gets hearing date

Whether the Kern River truly has spare water and, if so, how much, has been left up in the air for more than a decade. Now, 11 years after the State Water Resources Control Board ruled the Kern River was not fully appropriated, it will finally start the process of getting at those two key questions: Is water available? How much? A status conference hearing has been scheduled by the board’s Administrative Hearing Office for Aug. 17 at 9 a.m., the board announced on Monday.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Illegal marijuana growers steal California’s scarce water

One day last spring, water pressure in pipelines suddenly crashed In the Antelope Valley, setting off alarms. Demand had inexplicably spiked, swelling to three and half times normal. Water mains broke open, and storage tanks were drawn down to dangerous levels. … It took a while for officials to figure out where all that water was going: Water thieves — likely working for illicit marijuana operations — had pulled water from remote filling stations and tapped into fire hydrants, improperly shutting off valves and triggering a chain reaction that threatened the water supply of nearly 300 homes.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Property and Environment Research Center

Blog: Trading water, saving water

Today, as a water economist, my job is to help customers stretch their limited water resources. This means managing supplies wisely and getting a handle on collective demands. Fortunately, one of our available tools is an old one: water markets that can help reallocate the resource to the places it’s needed most. I’ve learned a lot more about water and water markets since I was a second-grader determined to help fish in the San Francisco Bay. One lesson is that even well-intentioned water markets can have bad outcomes if poorly designed or executed, as was my first water transfer.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces contract repayment negotiations for the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project

The Bureau of Reclamation and the Friant Water Authority scheduled a teleconference contract repayment negotiation session for costs of extraordinary operation and maintenance work on the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project. The date and time of the teleconference-only negotiation session are: July 22, 2021, from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. PDT Call 1-202-640-1187 and, when prompted, type in participant passcode 523 487 550# The public is welcome to listen during the session and comment after the negotiations close. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Feeling the California drought on my family farm

I can see my future: It’s dry, thirsty and bleak. On our farm, we live with drought daily, working with limited groundwater and learning to adjust and adapt, or to fail and abandon our fields. Water will determine a farmer’s survival. I farm organically outside Fresno, part of one of the world’s richest and most productive agricultural oases, providing, of course, that we have water. … A severe two-year drought is drying out the West and Southwest from Washington to California, Montana to Texas. Agriculture feels the impact with crops withering and production limited.
-Written by David Mas Masumoto, a farmer in Del Rey, California. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The New York Times

In California drought, water witches are swamped

In a vineyard flanked by scorched hills and charcoal trees, Rob Thompson gripped two stainless steel rods, began rotating in a circle and counted under his breath.  Then he said he had found it — water, hundreds of feet beneath the parched ground.  “This is really good,” said Mr. Thompson, 53, scratching an ‘X’ into the ashen soil with his shoe. “This is a deep one: 750 feet, 55 to 60 gallons a minute.” He added, “This one I can feel.”  Mr. Thompson is a water witch.

Aquafornia news GV Wire

In first Valley visit, U.S. senator gets pushed on farm water

Alex Padilla made his first official visit to the Central Valley as U.S. Senator, holding several discussions about water. Padilla, along with other elected officials, held a media availability at his only public event of the day — a tour of the Dos Palos water treatment plant. There, he spoke about the need to upgrade infrastructure for drinking water, as well as water for farmers. Padilla says the infrastructure bill being debated in the Senate will help with water, especially in underserved areas.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News:

The government cut off water to farmers in the Klamath basin. It reignited a decades-old war over water and fish

Joey Gentry hesitates before she drives through the fields of alfalfa and wheat that line the roads in the Klamath Basin. ”It’s not safe for Natives to be out in farmland during a drought year,” [Gentry said.] Like much of the American West, this dry, hilly, high-elevation landscape straddling the California-Oregon border is experiencing a summer of extreme drought. But when the federal government announced in May that, for the first time ever, it would cut irrigation water to about 180,000 acres of agriculture in the basin, tensions ignited between farmers and the Klamath tribes.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: All together now? Differences in water shortage conditions across California 

California is back in a drought. You’ve heard it on the news, you’ve heard it from scientists, and they’re right — 100% of the state is in at least moderate drought. Yet, California Governor Gavin Newsom has yet to declare a statewide drought emergency, instead opting for county-level declarations — 50 of 58 counties have been declared so far this year. And if you look closer at what impacts different regions are facing, and how they are responding, you see important differences in water shortage conditions across the state.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Colorado’s monsoon season is struggling to bring relief to rivers, ranchers and wildfires as the climate warms

The North American monsoon has returned to Colorado, and the rain has brought some much-needed relief to some of the driest parts of the state — after multiple back-to-back years of almost no summer rain. … Gov. Jared Polis has recently declared a drought emergency for the region and the rest of western Colorado. … The seasonal moisture from the tropics creates afternoon cloud cover that protects … drought-stricken creeks from baking in the sun. The rain helps lower the risk for wildfires. The timing of the monsoon is vital to Colorado’s ecosystem, which evolved on its schedule.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news ABC 7 News

Could meters be the key to conserving water in California agriculture? Watsonville growers explain

As he set goals last Thursday for the Bay Area to conserve water, Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged the lack of metering provides no sense of how much water is used by California agriculture. Growers in the Watsonville area in Santa Cruz County, however, are metered, and the meters have resulted in significant water conservation.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Water Education Colorado

Report: Colorado River ranch water savings hit 42 percent

Colorado’s high altitude hay meadows, a significant water user in the state, could be re-operated to yield more than 40 percent in water savings, according to a new report. The report is based on a major high tech research initiative to see if ranch-scale water conservation techniques, in which farmers are paid to voluntarily stop irrigating their fields temporarily, could produce enough saved water to help protect the Colorado River from unplanned shortages due to drought and climate change.

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Waterfowl across Sacramento region threatened by California drought

The future of millions of waterfowl that visit the region each fall could be up in the air if dry conditions continue. Fourth-generation rice farmer Brian McKenzie farms about 4,000 acres and his fields are filled with wildlife. … This year’s drought has decreased the number of birds and the number of acres farmed. … And that has many worried about what will happen to what is known as the Pacific flyway this fall.

Aquafornia news LA Weekly

Water crisis: The California drought is drying up our local farmers markets

Flora Bella Farms has been a fixture at the Santa Monica Farmers market since it opened in 1991. James and Dawn Birch have been a favorite stop for local chefs ever since they made their first sale to Nancy Silverton. Because of the lack of water in this year’s drought and the loss of most of their crops, next Wednesday, July 21 will be their last day at the market with no return day in sight. We talked to Dawn at the market Wednesday, who told us that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: In California, who owns water rights is a mystery

As we careen deeper into drought, California will face increasing impacts to urban and agricultural economies, rivers and forests, and wildlife. In response, government agencies will need to determine how to allocate water among competing needs. Water users will scramble to buy and sell water — if they can — or reduce their use. But the current lack of information hobbles the ability to make difficult decisions about water management. For California to cope with persistent shortages, water rights data need to be accessible to decision-makers and the public.
-Written by Michael Kiparsky, director of the Wheeler Water Institute in the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at UC Berkeley School of Law.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Prop 64 funded program protects fish and wildlife habitat statewide

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, in conjunction with their state and county partners, are preparing for the 2021 cannabis enforcement season. As authorized by Fish & Game Code section 12029, CDFW, in coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board, or SWRCB, and the state licensing authority, established a watershed enforcement program to address environmental violations associated with unlicensed cannabis cultivation. The environmental impacts associated with illegal cannabis cultivation can have a detrimental effect on fish and wildlife and their habitats…

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

A Delta in distress

Global warming has already left its mark on the backbone of California’s water supply, and represents a growing threat to its first developed agricultural region, state experts have warned in a new study. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fuels California’s $3 trillion economy, including its $50 billion agricultural industry, sustains more than 750 plant and animal species and supplies 27 million people with drinking water.  But global warming is likely to destabilize the landscape that made the delta a biodiversity and agricultural hotspot …

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Northern California farmers bracing for drastic water restrictions

Farmers are facing a water shortage right as we head into peak growing season…. Solano County farmer Spencer Bei shows us one of the wells his family uses to farm 15,000 acres. He says he is losing pressure now as he is pumping because he is pulling more from the aquifer due to a lack of surface water and no rain in sight. He is one of many farmers feeling the heat after the State Water Resources Board sent out letters to 4,300 water-right holders saying there was no longer enough water for them and that the remaining 2,300 with pre-1914 riparian rights could see even more restrictions soon.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Drought reduces projected almond crop in Central Valley

The worsening drought forced a 13% cut in the projected almond crop in California. The U.S. Department of Agriculture now expects about 2.8 billion pounds from the August-October harvest. The initial estimate in May was for a record 3.2 billion pounds. Some growers have opted to strip nuts from branches so their trees can get by with less irrigation this summer, Monday’s report said. Water is especially short in parts of the western and southern San Joaquin Valley.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

As California wineries lose insurance, some fear this fire season will be their last

Across California, as peak wildfire season approaches, many vintners in the state’s $40 billion wine industry are unable to protect themselves from fires in several crucial ways. Winemakers here were already vexed by smoke taint … which forced many to abandon their entire production in 2020. … Now, some are discovering that the one fallback they’d counted on — insurance in case their properties are damaged or destroyed by flames — is either impossible to get or exorbitantly expensive. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Illegal pot farms have invaded the California desert

[The] hot, dry, unforgiving climate [of the Mojave Desert] has attracted more than a thousand marijuana plantations that fill the arid expanse between the Antelope Valley and the Colorado River. It’s an unprecedented siege that has upended life in the remote desert communities and vast tract developments that overlook Joshua trees and scrub. Authorities say the boom has led to forced labor, violence, water theft and the destruction of fragile desert habitat and wildlife. Longtime residents say they feel less safe, claiming black-market growers act with impunity by carrying weapons, trading gunfire with rivals and threatening those who wander too close to their farms.

Aquafornia news Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management

New research: Approaches to planning water resources

Water resource problems and management are complex, confusing, and controversial for participants in technical, policy, and public water deliberations. A thoughtful planning approach can reduce confusion and structure controversies. This paper attempts to summarize and organize various technical approaches to water resources planning. This paper summarizes the basic approach of rational planning, followed by brief reviews of requirements-based, benefit-cost-based, multiobjective, conflict resolution, market-based, and muddling through approaches to planning.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Key players in California water confront drought, fish and more at Modesto summit

A key message emerged when California water leaders gathered in Modesto: Stop grumbling about drought, and get cracking on real fixes.  Rep. Josh Harder, R-Turlock, convened the Thursday afternoon summit at the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau.  Several speakers called for new reservoirs and groundwater recharge to hold wet-year surpluses for use in dry times like 2021. The manager of a West Side irrigation district invited others to follow her lead in using water recycled from city sewage plants. 

Aquafornia news ABC7 Los Angeles

Diamond Valley Lake: SoCal’s largest water reservoir filled to 80% capacity despite drought

Southern California’s largest reservoir is filled to more than 80% of its total capacity, despite the fact the state as a whole is in the second year of a severe drought. And Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet is proving to be a key asset in making up for the shortfall in water from other sources after another year of below-normal precipitation.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

In California’s interior, there’s no escape from the desperate heat: ‘Why are we even here?’

In Cantua, a small town deep within California’s farming heartland, the heat had always been a part of life. “We can do nothing against it,” said Julia Mendoza, who’s lived in this town for 27 years. But lately, she says, the searing temperatures are almost unlivable. … Global heating is driving stronger, longer heatwaves in the region, said Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida, a climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit advocacy group. Researchers have been warning of such extreme heatwaves for decades, he said, but the barrage of heat surges that California and the western US have been alarming, he said.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Tehama County Supervisors to discuss groundwater

Groundwater, a subject of growing concern, will be discussed Tuesday during the Tehama County Board of Supervisors meeting. Clay Parker, the groundwater commissioner and Red Bluff councilman, will be delivering a report to the board with an update on the Groundwater Sustainability Plan and the Domestic and Agricultural Well Ad Hoc Committee. … The committee is still in early development, although the agenda report said an ordinance is expected to be brought before the board by the end of the year.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The collaborative steward

The rhythmic patter of hooves skimming the earth below was a sound Amy never tired of when she was young. Whether in the hot sweat-inducing summer or the bone-chill frost of winter in upstate New York, the sound was ever-present, because Amy was always riding. … Now as the Interim Director of the California Program at American Rivers, one of Amy’s central goals is to work with agricultural landowners to protect and improve habitat in wetlands and rivers.

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

IID pounds pavement to head off bill

Imperial Irrigation District officials are making a last-ditch effort to amend or kill proposed legislation that could fundamentally transform the governing board of the agency, Assembly Bill 1021. At the heart of the issue is how the bill could force the district — which provides water and power to virtually all of Imperial County, and electricity to part of the Coachella Valley — to add a seat representing energy ratepayers from a small section of southeastern Riverside County to the IID Board of Directors. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘Save our water’: Meet the rain harvesters taking on the US West’s water woes

The American west has a sprawling network of dams, reservoirs and pipelines that brings a supply of water to its cities and farms. But overexploitation and a two-decade dry spell have put a severe strain on the resources, with reserves dwindling to historic lows in some areas. The situation will only get worse in the coming decades, warn scientists, as surging populations will boost freshwater demand and a hotter, drier climate will bring deeper droughts and more erratic precipitation patterns. …[N]ew water-sourcing approaches are also needed. One such is rainwater harvesting. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Lawsuit alleges lax groundwater oversight in Sonoma County threatens Russian River

An environmental group dedicated to promoting healthy waterways around California is taking Sonoma County to court over permitting policies it says too liberally allow people to drill groundwater wells, potentially endangering Russian River stream flows. California Coastkeeper, an affiliate of the locally based Russian Riverkeeper and a dozen or so other organizations around the state, filed the first-of-its-kind lawsuit late last month amid the intensifying drought and a surge in well drilling around the region.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

News release: Karuk Tribe seeks to stop Scott River water use to protect coho salmon

Today the Karuk Tribe filed a formal petition with the California State Water Resources Control Board demanding that it use its emergency powers to curtail water use in the Scott River to prevent the extinction of the Southern Oregon- Northern California Coho Salmon (Coho). … The Scott River is home to most of the native Coho salmon left in the Klamath Basin. Coho were added to the endangered species list in 1997. While federal agencies have forced water users on the federal Klamath Irrigation Project along the California/Oregon border to allow downstream flows to protect the fish, other water users’ impacts have been ignored.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drought – Bay Area, state hit 126-year lows for rainfall this year

California and the Bay Area experienced the driest rainy season on record, with average statewide precipitation reaching 126-year lows, according to Golden Gate Weather Services, a meteorological consulting firm. The Bay Area got only 9.88 inches of rain this season, 39% of its normal amount of 25.28 inches, Golden Gate Weather Services said. That’s the least ever, going back to 1895. California got 11.46 inches, or 49% of its normal 23.61 inches. That’s also the least ever.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news ABC7 Los Angeles

Drug cartels stealing millions of gallons of water for illegal marijuana grows in Antelope Valley, officials say

Amid California’s ongoing drought, drug cartels have been stealing 2-3 million gallons of water a day to feed illegal marijuana grows in the Antelope Valley, officials said. Asked where the water was being stolen from, Rep. Mike Garcia, who represents the state’s 25th District, said: “Right here from our local aqueduct system. The California Aqueduct flows right through the Antelope Valley. They’re taking it out of wells. They’re stealing it from fire hydrants.”

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Fox News

Western farmers fight for fairness, businesses amid drought ‘like Hurricane Katrina’

As the western United States continues to face a months-long bout with extreme drought, American farmers are feeling catastrophic effects to their livelihoods. … John Moore, a fourth-generation crop farmer from Kern County, California, highlighted the misunderstanding lawmakers have toward the agricultural community. In his mind, heeding to some Trump-era water policies would’ve changed the entire landscape of how farmers face droughts like these.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news WIRED

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: A massive water recycling proposal could help ease drought

Lake Mead, which provides water for 25 million people in the American West, has shrunk to 36 percent of its capacity. One rural California community has run out of water entirely after its well broke in early June. Fields are sitting fallow, as farmers sell their water allotments instead of growing crops, putting the nation’s food supply in peril. As the West withers under extreme drought, legislators in the US House of Representatives have introduced HR 4099, a bill that would direct the Secretary of the Interior to create a program to fund $750 million worth of water recycling projects in the 17 western states through the year 2027.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Running out of water: how climate change fuels a crisis in the US west

Except for a brief stint in the military, Paul Crawford has spent his entire life farming in southern Oregon. First, as a boy, chasing his dad through hayfields and now, growing alfalfa on his own farm with his wife and two kids, who want to grow up to be farmers. … The American west is drying out as the region faces an unprecedented drought. Few places are as devastated as the Klamath Basin, where Crawford’s farm sits. Straddling the border between California and Oregon, the watershed spans 12,000sq miles – from agricultural lands fed by Upper Klamath Lake to tribal communities surrounding the Klamath River.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Tribe becomes key water player with drought aid to Arizona

For thousands of years, an Arizona tribe relied on the Colorado River’s natural flooding patterns to farm….Now, gravity sends the river water from the north end of the Colorado River Indian Tribes reservation through 19th century canals to sustain alfalfa, cotton, wheat, onions and potatoes, mainly by flooding the fields. Some of those fields haven’t been producing lately as the tribe contributes water to prop up Lake Mead to help weather a historic drought in the American West…. As Arizona faces mandatory cuts next year in its Colorado River supply, the tribes see themselves as major players in the future of water.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Dealing with drought: Farmers challenged as water supply dwindles

The drought is here, and agriculture is scrambling. Water regulators have cut the amount that can be taken from lakes, rivers and streams. Farmers who ordinarily get that water either have to forgo planting some of their fields, or pump water from the ground, or a combination of the two. Farmers dependent on wells are also affected… Neither the state nor the federal water projects are delivering water for agriculture from Northern California to south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Drought: The end of California’s groundwater free-for-all

The water spigots on California farms will soon be twisted tighter. As the state faces a growing threat from drought, an increasing number of water agencies are planning to require flow meters on agricultural wells, part of a landmark effort to measure and constrain pumping that used to be free and unlimited. It’s a controversial step aimed at protecting water supplies that could change cultivation practices in the Golden State’s thirsty fields.

Related article:

Aquafornia news ABC 10 San Diego

Valley Center residents blame SDG&E project for low water supply

Residents in Valley Center say they are running out of water and blaming an SDG&E project meant to reduce fire danger. The olive trees that line Kristen Bazata’s Valley Center farm have not been watered recently – at a time they need all the H20 they can get. … Bazata stopped watering the trees after noticing an alarming change when she turned on her own faucets. “We have lower water pressure than we have ever had,” Bazata said. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: How California’s leaders can end the salmon slaughter

Our leaders must take bold action to adapt to our new reality and create a system that can support healthy rivers and wildlife, communities with access to safe drinking water and a thriving agricultural economy. Unfortunately, that’s not what we’re seeing today. The state’s water regulators are draining our reservoirs and depleting our rivers to deliver vast volumes of water to a small number of powerful agricultural interests during a historically dry year. Protecting fish and wildlife and water quality for Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta communities does not mean eliminating agriculture in the Central Valley. 
-Written by Rachel Zwillinger, water policy advisor for Defenders of Wildlife in Sacramento.

Aquafornia news NPR

Drought has pitted farmers against native tribes protecting endangered fish

In the drought-stricken Klamath Basin along the California-Oregon border, water is precious. This year, Native American tribes and farmers are competing for this shrinking resource. It’s an indicator of future water wars in the West. Jefferson Public Radio’s Erik Neumann explains.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Idaho State Journal

Idaho almond trial drawing a lot of interest from California

Interest from California growers in the possibility of growing almonds commercially in Idaho has not waned. In fact, it’s increasing. University of Idaho fruit researchers have been conducting a major almond trial at the university’s agricultural research and extension station in Parma since 2014.  … California is the global leader in almond production but growers there are increasingly concerned about burdensome regulations, an uncertain water supply and expensive land prices, Fallahi says.

Aquafornia news Truthout

Explosive growth of toxic algae threatens water supplies across US

With a vast portion of the United States coping with exceptional drought this summer, conditions are ripe in many places for harmful algal blooms, bringing additional threats to already-stressed water systems and increased health risks for communities. The blooms are in large part fueled by phosphorus and nitrogen runoff from industrial agricultural operations, which provide a feast of nutrients for cyanobacteria — a group of aquatic, photosynthetic bacteria that grow out of control and overwhelm their ecosystems in the presence of excess nutrients.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Report: Delta adapts – Creating a climate resilient future

The time to act is now. Climate change is already altering the physical environment of the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh (Delta), and we will continue to experience its effects through hotter temperatures, more severe wildfires, and prolonged droughts. Over the long term, climate change in the Delta is expected to harm human health and safety, disrupt the economy, diminish water supply availability and usability, shift ecosystem function, compromise sensitive habitats, and increase the challenges of providing basic services. Many of these impacts will disproportionately affect vulnerable communities.

Aquafornia news National Geographic

Historic drought in the West is forcing ranchers to take painful measures

On Andrew McGibbon’s 90,000-acre cattle ranch south  Tucson, Arizona, the West’s punishing drought isn’t just drying up pastureland and evaporating water troughs. … Nearly 1,000 miles from McGibbon’s ranch, near Rio Vista, California, the drought on Ryan Mahoney’s ranch feels just as bad. … In the contiguous United States, more than a third of available land is used for pasture. That means more than 15 million beef cattle are trying to graze this year on drought-parched grasses, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Report: Dispute resolution clauses in interorganizational coordination agreements

California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a landmark piece of legislation in the quest for comprehensive management of California’s groundwater, required the creation of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), and authorized local governments either to form GSAs separately or join with other local governments in the same groundwater basin. This was the genesis of 74 interorganizational agreements now examined in a new report, which focuses on whether, given the high stakes and history of conflict in water resources management in California, participants were prepared for disagreements with dispute resolution clauses in their planning.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: How does cannabis cultivation affect California’s water?

The rise in legal cannabis cultivation in California has brought a once-clandestine industry out of the shadows. Legalization has begun to illuminate the industry’s impacts on ecosystems and water—a particularly fraught issue as the state confronts a new drought. We spoke with Van Butsic and Ted Grantham, co-directors of UC Berkeley’s Cannabis Research Center and adjunct fellows at the PPIC Water Policy Center, to better understand how cannabis cultivation affects the state’s water.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Water futures market fails to make a splash with California farmers

Former bond trader Alan Boyce is just the type of California farmer expected to dive into the world’s first water futures contract. Boyce is comfortable navigating financial tools, and he grows irrigated pistachios, tomatoes, alfalfa and other crops in California’s drought-prone Central Valley. But he says the water contract is still too illiquid to benefit him. Financial exchange operator CME Group (CME.O) launched the contract late last year to help big California water users such as farmers and utilities hedge rising drought risk and give investors a sense of how scarce water is at any given time.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news City of Scottsdale

News release: Water – Colorado River shortage

For the first time ever, an official Colorado River Tier 1 Shortage is expected to be declared starting January 1, 2022. The announcement comes from the Bureau of Reclamation in August based on projections for Lake Mead water levels for the following January. The shortage declaration means reduced water for some stakeholders who receive water from the Central Arizona Project (CAP); those stakeholders who receive a portion of their water from CAP include municipalities, agriculture, tribes, and others.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: State, federal agencies award over $10 million for new Delta science

The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) are pleased to award over $10 million to fund 16 critical scientific studies in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and Suisun Marsh over the next three years. … At its June 24 meeting, the Council voted to approve $9,611,012.75 to fund 16 projects, with Reclamation contributing over $3.42 million toward four of these projects. The State Water Contractors will co-fund one of these 16 projects, pushing the grand total awards to over $10 million.

Aquafornia news TreeHugger

Blog: California water use threatens biodiversity in the long term

The diversion of water from the San Francisco Bay Delta, for example, is one of the forces famously driving the delta smelt to extinction. Now, a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this month shows another counterintuitive way in which human water use in California is putting its unique riverside woodlands at risk.  By diverting water in ways it would not otherwise flow, human management is providing some stream-side, or riparian, ecosystems with excess water that gives them a short-term boost, but undermines their long-term sustainability. 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Valley’s westside farmers are angling for a water lifeline. Federal water officials could cut it off

As farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley struggle to irrigate crops and weather an ever-worsening historic drought, a bit of relief could be on the horizon courtesy of farmers in the north Valley. But it could be all for naught if Federal water managers don’t sign-off. What’s at stake? A proposed transfer of 100,000 acre-feet of water from the Southern San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) and Oakdale Irrigation District to farmers utilizing water from the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Nasdaq

Blog: The answer to inflation woes could be under this dusty lake

Severe water restrictions like these are not merely a serious economic threat to farming operations; they are also a contributor to rising food prices. Without adequate water supplies, many farmers simply refrain from farming. And that’s not a good thing in a state like California, which grows nearly half the country’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Almost all agriculture is thirsty, of course, but California agriculture is especially thirsty. Growing a single almond requires more than one gallon of water, while growing a single avocado requires 60 gallons! Obviously, a major drought is not helpful.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Opinion: Can California start taking droughts seriously, please?

Drought may be the sneakiest of natural disasters. Although human history teems with people engulfed by abrupt aridity — the Akkadians of four millenniums ago, the Maya in the ninth and 10th centuries A.D., the Great Plains farmers of the 1930s — even today drought is a poorly appreciated phenomenon. … The American West is once again facing drought, one of the worst on record. Across a vast region encompassing nine states and home to nearly 60 million people, the earth is being wrung dry. 
-Written by Farhad Manjoo, NY Times opinion columnist.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farmers face water rights curtailments

The California priority water rights system is being put to the test, as state regulators impose emergency regulations and send notices of water unavailability to farmers who are trying to negotiate their crops through another drought year. Reacting to worsening dry conditions, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted emergency regulations last week to curtail water diversions in the Russian River watershed in Mendocino and Sonoma counties.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

New bill would make it easier to transfer water throughout California

Growers are dealing with severe cutbacks in the surface water deliveries they normally receive from reservoirs. The lack of steady irrigation has already impacted spring cropping decisions made by farmers. … A bill introduced by Republican Congressman David Valadao would allow more water to be moved south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta while keeping protections in place for fish such as the delta smelt and salmon.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

News release: Forty-two percent of public water supply wells in California’s San Joaquin Valley vulnerable, finds new report

Forty two percent of shallow wells supplying water to community water systems in California’s San Joaquin Valley are vulnerable to going partially or fully dry under the state’s minimum thresholds, finds a new report from the Pacific Institute. Most impacted wells are shallower, and tend to be in disadvantaged communities.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Farmers and ranchers need support during drought

While California is known for its world-famous entertainment industry and ever-transforming tech sector, agriculture is the often-overlooked backbone of our diverse state and one of its earliest economic engines.  Our state’s multigenerational farmers and ranchers not only feed Californians, but also supply one-third of our country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, while also leading the nation in milk production.
-Written by Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; and David Shabazian, director of the California Department of Conservation.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

California Water: In Russian River’s fabled vineyards, the harvest of a drought

Rich with promise and potential, the grapes that create the Russian River Valley’s famed wines are ripening in the intense midday heat. But soon they’ll face the fight of their lives, deprived of water as the state diverts scarce supplies from agriculture to the region’s thirsty cities and subdivisions. … [Last] week, in a contentious step, the State Water Resources Control Board unanimously approved an emergency regulation to halt agricultural diversions for up to 2,400 of the region’s water rights holders. Citing state law, the regulation prioritizes “health and safety,” saying agricultural use is “an unreasonable use of water and is prohibited.”

Related article:

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

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

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

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Union Democrat

Monday Top of the Scroll: Irrigation districts agree to send water from New Melones south to drought-stricken farmers

As much as 100,000 acre-feet of water — enough to meet the annual demand of more than 40,000 Tuolumne County residents for at least five years — that’s currently stored in New Melones Reservoir could soon be sent south to aid drought-stricken farmers under an agreement between the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

With fish on the brink of extinction, tribes say government must act

[T]he problem goes way beyond grazing. Dozens of tributaries and hundreds of springs feed Upper Klamath Lake, supplying plenty of good, clean water. A century of mismanagement has caused erosion of high phosphorus soils that accumulate in the bottom of Upper Klamath Lake. Now, annual algae blooms kill entire generations of young endangered fish every year. … All the problems in the Upper Klamath Lake flow downstream, affecting endangered salmon in the Klamath River as it runs to the Pacific Ocean. The Karuk, a Klamath River tribe, are worried that this could be another year marked by a historic fish kill. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news CNN

A California reservoir is expected to fall so low that a hydro-power plant will shut down for first time

Water in a key California reservoir will fall so low this summer that its hydroelectric power plant will be forced to shut down for the first time, officials said Thursday, straining the state’s already-taxed electric grid. An unrelenting drought and record heat, both worsened by the changing climate, have pushed the water supply at Northern California’s Lake Oroville to deplete rapidly. As a result of the “alarming levels,” officials will likely be forced to close the Edward Hyatt Power Plant for the first time since it opened in 1967…

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

As a hot, dry summer begins in California, more water wells are failing

In this blistering year in California, drinking water wells are going dry in increasing numbers, rekindling memories of the historic drought of 2012 to 2016, when more than 2,600 wells across the state stopped producing water. So many wells went dry in 2014 in the town of East Porterville that Tulare County supplied portable public showers. California is not yet to that level of emergency…. But because the trend lines do not look promising, government agencies and nonprofit groups are preparing for a difficult summer in which thousands of wells could fail.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Congressman John Garamendi

News release: Garamendi votes to advance bill to modernize water infrastructure and create good-paying jobs

Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, voted to pass the “Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021” (H.R.1915) in the Committee. This legislation reauthorizes the Clean Water Act’s State Revolving Funds and related U.S. EPA water programs. The legislation passed the Committee on a bipartisan vote of 42 to 25 and is expected to be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming weeks. 

Aquafornia news Reuters

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

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

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Blog: Klamath Trinity spring chinook salmon added to California endangered species list

The California Fish and Game Commission ruled unanimously to add Upper Klamath Trinity Spring Chinook to the California Endangered Species List.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Bay Nature

When is it too hot to grow food in California?

Kou Her’s family has run the 12-acre Herr Family Farms in Sanger, just east of Fresno, for the last 20 years, raising a variety of vegetables for Bay Area produce and farmer’s markets. In those 20 years, Kou and his parents haven’t seen anything like the heat wave gripping the Central Valley this week. “I am terrified,” Her said by phone Wednesday evening. “I’ve never experienced three days of 110 before. I hope we don’t have significant damage by the end of the weekend.”

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Madera ranchers circle the wagons over county groundwater plan

Central Valley cattle ranchers are gearing up for a fight against what they see as groundwater rustling. Their fear is that newly formed groundwater agencies in some areas could devalue their land by not giving them a fair share of their own groundwater. Ranchers believe those fears were realized on June 8 when the Madera County Board of Supervisors approved a groundwater allocation that will partially exclude rangeland. Ranchers who own rangeland that has never been irrigated won’t receive a share of the county’s “transitional water” allotment.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Drought exposes need to upgrade water facilities

Severe drought highlights the need for greater investment to improve aging California water facilities, and increases calls for allocation of federal and state resources to tackle the problem. A national coalition that includes the California Farm Bureau urged U.S. Senate leaders last week to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure, and to include “a broad range of water uses” in any federal infrastructure legislation. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: Can the US survive California’s drought?

The drought facing the Western United States is bad. Really bad. It’s become worse faster than the last one. As more of the United States suffers from drought conditions and water supplies are diminishing, water demands are rising. Smaller water supplies combined with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and other effects of climate change pose an enormous threat by creating a feedback loop that exacerbates drought conditions and increases wildfire risk across the United States. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California tells Central Valley farmers to brace for water shortages

The seriousness of California’s drought is being driven home to thousands of farmers in the Central Valley. State regulators warned 6,600 farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed on Tuesday that they’re about to lose the right to pull water from the estuary’s rivers at some point this summer. The watershed covers a major swath of the Central Valley. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun News

Editorial: Grounded leadership needed in region brimming with water tensions

As the Southwest prepares for what’s forecast to be another mercilessly hot and dry summer, tensions over water scarcity are rising like the mercury. Farmers are facing bleak growing seasons and the possibility of farm failures in several areas due to cutbacks in water allocations for irrigation, creating friction between the ag community and cities on the dwindling water supply in the region. Rural communities in Nevada and elsewhere, already wary of incursions by urban areas into their water supplies, are on high alert as the water crisis deepens.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Public Press

Urban community farm adapts as exceptional drought hits home

At Crocker Amazon Park in the Excelsior, six acres of formerly underutilized land owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has been turned into an urban farm through the efforts of People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights, known as PODER. The urban community agriculture project, dubbed Hummingbird Farm, provides organic food as well as medicinal plants, and serves as a community and education hub in particular for young people.

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

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

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

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Stanford News

Blog: Finding the ’sweet spots’ for managed aquifer recharge

Much of California’s $50 billion agricultural industry depends on groundwater. We typically see only what this water makes possible above the soil: almond and pistachio groves, citrus orchards, rows of lettuce and grapevines and cattle herds in a valley that supplies a quarter of the nation’s food even when surface water is scarce. But a lot is happening below the surface. Deep underground, intricate channels of sand and gravel weave through tightly packed clays and silts, allowing Earth to hold water like a sponge.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Drought in Tulare County never ends

Severe drought is gripping most of California, but its misery isn’t spread equally. While most of the state compares today’s extreme conditions to previous droughts, people in Tulare County speak of drought — in the singular, as in a continuous state of being. … Tulare County’s never-ending drought brings dried up wells and plenty of misery The entire West is suffering from extreme dryness, heat and fire risk, and the small, rural towns of northern Tulare County, outside of Visalia, are caught in its vortex.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Final plan for water releases into Sacramento River could kill up to 88% of endangered salmon run

The California water board has approved a plan for water releases into the Sacramento River that could kill off an entire run of endangered chinook salmon and put at risk another population that is part of the commercial salmon fishery. … Because the [Bureau of Reclamation’s] plan involves releasing water to irrigation districts earlier in the season, the river will be lower and warmer during salmon spawning season and could result in killing as many as 88% of endangered winter-run chinook eggs and young fish.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California drought sparks perpetual fight about water

California never has enough water to meet all demands and even when supplies are relatively robust there’s a triangular competition over their allocation. Farmers, municipal users and environmental advocates vie for shares of water that has been captured by California’s extensive network of dams and reservoirs. … When California experiences one of its periodic droughts and reservoirs shrink from scant rain and snowfall, its perpetual conflict becomes even sharper.
-Written by Dan Walters, a CalMatters columnist

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Public sounds off on Samoa onshore fish farm plans

Humboldt County gave the public two chances to air concerns this week surrounding Nordic Aquafarms’ proposed onshore fish farm on the Samoa Peninsula. County planners held two public scoping meetings Thursday to gather input from the public and affected governmental agencies on areas that should be covered in the project’s environmental impact report (EIR). The Humboldt County Planning and Building Department had released a mitigated negative declaration (MND) for the project in April but a coalition of environmental groups argued that the assessment didn’t go far enough. 

Aquafornia news NewsChannel 3-12 - Santa Barbara

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

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

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Jfleck at Inkstain

Blog: Invest in farm water conservation to curtail buy and dry

The term buy-and-dry plays to the fears of farm and ranch communities. Wealthy urban water providers buy up water rights, dry out farms and ranches, encourage people to retire to Hawaii or other locales, and export the purchased water out of basin to growing cities. As more farmers and ranchers sell their water rights, local businesses—irrigation,  farm equipment, seed, and other agricultural firms—contract. Those contractions encourage more farmers and ranchers to sell their water rights and farms. And a negative feedback loop gains momentum and propels a tragedy where the commons—a functioning local agricultural community—disappears. 

Aquafornia news CNN

A water war is brewing in Oregon after Klamath Basin shutdown

Tricia Hill tears up when she talks about the emotional toll the water shut-off in southern Oregon has had on her family. Amid historic, climate change-driven drought, the federal government in May shut down the water supply from the Upper Klamath Basin on the California-Oregon border to protect native fish species on the verge of extinction. As a result, Hill and other farmers like her in the region have been cut off from water they have used for decades.

Aquafornia news Central Valley Water Board

Pistachio processing facility in Tulare County will pay $221,440 fine for odor violations

A Central Valley pistachio processing plant whose wastewater ponds triggered numerous odor complaints from nearby residents will pay a $221,440 fine, a portion of which will fund improved ventilation at two public schools in the area. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Valley Water Board) fined Setton Pistachio after determining the company had violated the terms of an August 2020 cease and desist order (CDO) directing it to immediately eliminate objectionable odors coming from ponds at its plant in Terra Bella in Tulare County.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

First assessments of groundwater sustainability plans released by DWR

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

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Seeking a balanced plan – Sacramento River operations for 2021

With the harshest dry year in recent memory, the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors (Settlement Contractors) are working closely with federal and state agencies, as well as our conservation partners, to continually improve our operations and serve water for multiple benefits, including water for cities and rural communities, farms, birds, fish, and recreation.

Aquafornia news Fox 40

UC Davis works to help wine industry overcome drought conditions

Susan Tipton likes to talk about her award-winning wines produced at Acquiesce Winery in Acampo just outside Lodi, but these days she keeps a close watch on the current drought conditions as well.  Tipton took a big hit last year when winter rains didn’t materialize. … Coming into 2021, the vines were watered early with well water, and groundcover crops are used to retain water. But the water table in the area is dropping, adding to Tipton’s concern.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Farm groups seek $49 billion for Western water, forests

Even as a federal infrastructure bill teeters on the brink of failure, more than 200 Western farm and water organizations pushing for canal and reservoir repairs are proposing nearly $49 billion for projects improving water conveyance, dam safety and forest health. In a letter June 9 to Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, organizations ranging from Western Growers to the Idaho Potato Commission cited an “acute and critical need” magnified by another all-too-familiar drought.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: State water board choice is key to providing clean water for all

California’s drought highlights the importance of an appointment sitting on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk – filling the final seat on the State Water Resources Control Board.   This is a critical agency appointment at a critical time. The drought highlights many inequities in California water policy. Disadvantaged communities in Stockton face the prospect of a drought summer plagued by harmful algae blooms in Delta rivers.  Those algae outbreaks, which can harm children and kill pets, are caused by excessive nutrients and inadequate freshwater flow.  
-Written by Belinda Faustina, a strategic advisor with Los Angeles Waterkeeper, and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, the executive director of Restore the Delta.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Kern County Water Summit: SGMA implementation update

At the Kern County Water Summit held last week, hosted by the Water Association of Kern County, Acting Deputy Director of the Department of Water Resources Statewide Groundwater Management Program Steven Springhorn provided an update on the Department’s progress on SGMA implementation, including the Department’s review of the submitted Groundwater Sustainability Plans and the existing and proposed SGMA-related assistance.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Abatti responds to IID’s Supreme Court filing

Imperial Valley grower, landowner and former elected official Michael Abatti has responded to the Imperial Irrigation District’s official filing in his U.S. Supreme Court petition. The official response was filed sometime Monday, June 7. In March, Abatti filed for a “writ of certiorari” with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District’s decision in Abatti v. Imperial Irrigation District, to which the district was ordered by the High Court to provide a formal response last month.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

State releases its first reviews of local SGMA plans

Against the backdrop of what’s shaping up as a devastating drought year, the California Department of Water Resources has released its first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans developed by local agencies to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The department released reviews of four local plans, approving two but sending the other two back to local groundwater sustainability agencies, saying the plans need more work. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Pulling out trees, trucking water for cows: California farmers take drastic measures in drought

Normally, the biggest vegetable grower in Sonoma County, Humberto Castañeda Produce, grows heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, watermelons and other crops on 180 acres outside of Santa Rosa. But this year, Humberto Castañeda and his son, Gabriel, are farming only 17 acres after receiving a fraction of their normal allotment of water from the city of Santa Rosa. … The Castañedas are among countless farmers across the state taking drastic measures to deal with the drought…

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Opinion: Water diversion for Napa County vineyards harm Napa city residents

Among the nearly one hundred development projects pending on the county of Napa Current Projects website comes a sleeper of a project likely to go unnoticed by Napa city residents and businesses who will be most negatively impacted. The remote vineyard development project, proposed deep in the headwaters above Lake Hennessey, seeks to clear 156.8 acres of existing vegetation including oak woodlands, foothill pine communities, and grasslands in order to construct a vineyard in the Conn Creek/Lake Hennessey watershed. 
-Written by Kellie Anderson, resident of Angwin.

Related article:

Aquafornia news OPB

Podcast: Klamath Basin water conflict could offer opportunity to revisit solutions

The Klamath Basin is suffering the worst drought in the state. Competing need for the water by local tribes seeking to sustain endangered fish populations, farmers and ranchers, and commercial and tribal fisheries has been a persistent issue, and has led to conflicts in the past. The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, which took 10 years to plan, was a turning point and a compromise for the parties needing access to the water. 

Aquafornia news UC Riverside

News release: A new water treatment technology could also help Mars explorers

Ateam led by UC Riverside engineers has developed a catalyst to remove a dangerous chemical from water on Earth that could also make Martian soil safer for agriculture and help produce oxygen for human Mars explorers. Perchlorate, a negative ion consisting of one chlorine atom bonded to four oxygen atoms, occurs naturally in some soils on Earth, and is especially abundant in Martian soil. As a powerful oxidizer, perchlorate is also manufactured and used in solid rocket fuel, fireworks, munitions, airbag initiators for vehicles, matches and signal flares. It is a byproduct in some disinfectants and herbicides. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Putting farmland out to pasture not an easy task

Not all farmland in the San Joaquin Valley will survive in a post-SGMA world. Estimates are that the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will force between 500,000 to one million acres of land that’s currently farmed to be taken out of production to save groundwater. Which lands and what will become of those lands are major question marks at this point. If Gov. Newsom’s revised budget is approved as is, those questions could have an extra $500 million to help find answers.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Amid mega-drought, rightwing militia stokes water rebellion in US west

Fears of a confrontation between law enforcement and rightwing militia supporters over the control of water in the drought-stricken American west have been sparked by protests at Klamath Falls in Oregon. Protesters affiliated with rightwing anti-government activist Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights Network are threatening to break a deadlock over water management in the area by unilaterally opening the headgates of a reservoir.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Eureka Times Standard

Environmental advocates call for Klamath Basin water allocations

Tribes and environmental advocates fear flows along the Klamath River could be reduced to a trickle if the State Water Resources Control Board doesn’t take action on water use upstream on the Scott and Shasta rivers. Andy Marx, board president of Friends of the Shasta River, said the river “virtually dried up” over Memorial Day weekend as a result of excessive irrigation diversions.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

Drought calls for desperate measures from Northern California farmers

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

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Blog: GSAs shooting 50% on GSPs—DWR releases first GSP assessment results for high priority basins

The wait is over for some Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs). The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the first Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) assessments for four basins yesterday, June 3, 2021. DWR approved the 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Salinas Valley and the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin. DWR determined both GSPs “satisf[y] the objectives of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and substantially compl[y] with the GSP Regulations.” 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Jobs and irrigation during drought in California

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

Aquafornia news Business Insider

Water shortage in California could send food prices higher

A megadrought in California is threatening to push food prices even higher. The state is already facing its worst water shortage in four years and the its driest season has only just begun, according to data from the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). As water levels continue to fall, farmers and ranchers will be unable to maintain key crops and feed livestock. As of Tuesday, nearly 75% of California was classified as in “extreme drought,” meaning the land does not have adequate water supplies to sustain agriculture and wildlife, according to the NIDIS. 

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

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

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

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Union Democrat

Federal officials seek input for Ackerson Meadow restoration

Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest are seeking commentary from the public on their plan to restore wetlands in the Ackerson Meadow, which they said have been drained as a result of a century of domestic water diversion.  The plans include a complete fill of the gullies developed over the last century by ranchers and agriculturalists who utilized water flow, or the the installation of manmade beaver dams to partially restore the wetlands.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The Habitat Creator – Mary Kimball

In the two decades since the SLEWS program began, high school students, farmers and conservation volunteers have planted 142 miles of riparian hedgerow habitat. That is the equivalent of driving from Sacramento to Reno. From the moment you left downtown until you pulled into the Biggest Little City in the World, accompanying you along the way would be a seemingly infinite line of native trees, grasses, shrubs, and flowering forbs all in a single row. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: 74% of California and 52% of the Western U.S. now in ‘exceptional’ drought

Drought conditions in California remain at record highs, with most of the state now classified in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, reflecting conditions across the Southwest, according to a new report from climate scientists. Much of the Bay Area and the northern Central Valley have been included in the most severe “exceptional drought” zone, along with much of southeast California, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news KMPH

Latest water war over Kings River involves claim by water district in Kern County

A water war is under way in Sacramento right now that could have far-reaching impacts on families in the Central Valley. … Hearings got under way Wednesday, as Semitropic Water Storage District in Kern County makes its administrative appeal to the State Water Resources Control Board for water rights to the Kings River. It filed its first petition in 2017, asking for access to 1.6 million acre feet of floodwater from the Kings River.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

California State Senator Melissa Hurtado to California Water Commission: Keep water funds meant for the Central Valley in the Central Valley

On Thursday, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) issued the following statement regarding a bi-partisan letter she sent that urges the California Water Commission to prioritize water storage projects in the Central Valley when assessing how to reallocate funds from Proposition 1: … California is currently in a state of emergency due to drought. As a result, the amount of water allocated to Central Valley farmers has been greatly reduced. 

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa County sued over care of Napa River

Water Audit California is suing to make Napa County increase oversight of groundwater pumping for vineyards, wineries, and other uses, claiming that the pumping affects the Napa River. The lawsuit said the county has a “public trust” duty to care for the river. The idea is that too much groundwater pumping from wells can keep groundwater from seeping into the river during dry months, to the detriment of fish and other aquatic life.

Aquafornia news Sierra Magazine

In the Klamath River basin, the drought punishes everyone

This May, while collecting live fish for their annual aquatic pathogen assessment on the Klamath River in Northern California, Yurok Tribe biologists made a shocking discovery: over 70 percent of the young, ocean-bound Chinook salmon captured in their traps were dead. Almost all of the fish tested upstream were infected with Ceratonova shasta, a parasite that relies on both fish and annelid worms as hosts. Barry McCovey, senior fisheries biologist for the Yurok Tribe, expects most of the infected fish to die.

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Drought losses mounting in Sonoma County agricultural sector

After farming squash, corn, melons, peppers and tomatoes by his father’s side since childhood, Gabriel Castañeda is stepping out largely on his own this year. With water in such short supply, his dad, Humberto, thought he might forgo raising summer fruits and vegetables this season and focus only on the 15 acres of wine grapes he grows near Fulton instead. But Gabe Castañeda, who had helped his father build Humberto Castañeda Produce into Sonoma County’s largest produce grower, wanted to see what he could do to keep the family’s 40-year farming tradition alive — even if on a very reduced scale.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Ensuring high quality water for communities, ecosystems and farms

I am now working through my third drought as the Director of Water Quality for Northern California Water Association (NCWA), where I have learned the importance of broadening my perspective beyond my own tap in Roseville that brings delicious American River water into my home. A pillar in NCWA’s Strategic Plan and 2021 Priorities is to advance multi-benefit water management that supports nature-based solutions, which provide essential benefits for our economy, health and quality of life …

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Search for groundwater gets high-tech boost

Groundwater is one of the hottest ticket items in California’s water world these days. But much about it is a mystery. Where is it? How does it move? Which are the best spots to percolate water into the ground for storage? At least two technologies hope to answer some of those questions: airborne electromagnetic surveys and interferometric synthetic aperture radar. That’s AEM and InSAR for short.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

California’s epic drought is parching reservoirs and worrying farmers

There is dry, and then there is desiccated. As any movie fan knows from the classic film Chinatown, California is an infamously thirsty place. But this year, even by its own standards, the state is shockingly, scarily parched. So far in 2021, the state has received half of its expected precipitation; that makes it the third driest year on record according to California’s Department of Water Resources.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Irrigators say they plan to force open Klamath headgates and release water

Rising tensions in the Klamath Basin could come to a boil soon, as two Klamath Project farmers plan to breach the fenced headgates of the federal irrigation project’s main canal and try to release water, likely triggering a standoff with the federal government. Farmers Grant Knoll and Dan Nielsen bought property next to the headgates in April for $30,000 and have set up camp on the site. They are staffing a large canvas tent with volunteers from the local branch of People’s Rights, a national organization formed in 2020 by militant activist Ammon Bundy, and they’re trying to rally support.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Mega-dairies, disappearing wells, and Arizona’s deepening water crisis

Cynthia Beltran moved to Sunizona with her seven-year-old son last autumn even though the area lacks functional drinking water wells, because it was all she could afford. She cannot afford the $15,000 cost of deepening her well, which dried up last year, and had been paying for a local firm to deliver water in a tanker. But at $100 a week it became too expensive, so now she will be relying on a friend to help her fetch water from her mother’s well. … Nearly 20 wells in Sunizona alone were deepened between 2015 and 2019, after they dried up. 

Aquafornia news KCRA

Farmers facing California drought impacts feel strain of low water supply

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

Related article:

Aquafornia news Undark

U.S. Southwest, already parched, sees ‘virtual water’ drain abroad

Driving into Southern California’s Palo Verde Valley from the Arizona border, fields of vibrant green appear out of the desert like a mirage. Near the town of Blythe, water from the Colorado River turns the dry earth into verdant farmland, much of it to grow a single crop — alfalfa, a type of plant used mainly to feed dairy cows. For decades, a significant portion of alfalfa grown here and elsewhere in the western United States — as much as 17 percent in 2017 — has been loaded onto trucks, driven hundreds of miles to ports on the west coast, and shipped around the world, mainly to China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. 

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press Online

Opinion: Coachella Valley – Should IID stay or should IID go?

On Tuesday, the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors will consider the future of IID in the Coachella Valley with a direct question — should IID stay or should IID go? In my short tenure on the IID Board, I personally have enjoyed working to improve our service, responsiveness and outreach to our Coachella Valley communities and customers. But Assembly Bill 1021 by Assemblyman Chad Mayes, I-La Quinta, threatens the continued presence of IID in the Coachella Valley … 
-Written by JB Hamby, vice president of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors. 

Aquafornia news Ingrained

Podcast/blog: Episode 22 – Nurturing Nature

The driest year California has experienced since the 1970s will have wide-ranging impacts in the West. In the Sacramento Valley, a reduced water supply will lead to about a 20 percent reduction in rice plantings. The loss of about 100,000 acres of rice fields has implications well beyond the farm level. The reduced plantings will impact rural communities that depend on agriculture as their foundation. It’s also a concern for wildlife, which greatly depend on rice fields for their habitat.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

5 things to know about the Klamath water crisis

Tensions have been building in Klamath Falls in recent weeks over a drought that is devastating farmland, fish deemed sacred to native tribes, and wildlife. The Klamath Basin, along the Oregon-California border, has a complex history. Drought and fights over water aren’t new. Here are five things to know about the unfolding Klamath water crisis:

Related articles:

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Calif. Senate advances bill to spend $785mil to repair Valley canals

A bill aimed at improving the Valley’s two largest canal systems from continued subsidence-driven damage advanced through one house of the California State Legislature on Friday. Senate Bill 559, a top priority for legislators on both side of the aisle in the San Joaquin Valley and led by Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger), seeks to dedicate $785 million in spending for improvements to four sets of waterways, spearheaded by two canals servicing the Central Valley Project: the Delta-Mendota Canal and the Friant-Kern Canal.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The Willits News

Haulers need permits if diverting water

According to a flyer put out by the California Water Boards, anyone who diverts water from a surface stream, lake or pond into a water hauling truck must have a valid water right and any unauthorized drafting or hauling of water is subject to prosecution and fines—up to $500 a day, as high as $1,000 a day during a drought year, and $2,500 per acre-foot of water diverted—by the State Water Boards and the Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Aquafornia news Reuters

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

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

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Zocalo

Opinion: California’s next water war is starting underground, in the Mojave Desert

Can California regions regulate groundwater without destroying their businesses and communities? That’s the question being posed as regions and localities implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the historic 2014 state law that brought regulation to California’s diminishing groundwater supplies.
–Written by columnist Joe Matthews

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Amid historic drought, a new water war in the West

The brewing battle over the century-old Klamath Project is an early window into the water shortfalls that are likely to spread across the West as a widespread drought, associated with a warming climate, parches watersheds throughout the region. In Nevada, water levels have dropped so drastically in Lake Mead that officials are preparing for a serious shortage that could prompt major reductions in Colorado River water deliveries next year. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has placed 41 counties under a state of emergency.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

IID files response to Abatti’s Supreme Court case

The Imperial Irrigation District has filed its initial response to Imperial Valley grower, landowner and former elected official Michael Abatti’s U.S. Supreme Court case. … Abatti is seeking to overturn a previous appellate court ruling that asserts Imperial Irrigation District is the “sole owner” of water rights in the Valley, and farmers do “not (have) an appurtenant water right” but rather are entitled merely to “water service” that is subject to modification by the district at its discretion.

Aquafornia news KMPH

Local push to raise levels in two storm water reservoirs

Two large reservoirs in our backyard are capable of holding 40,000 acre feet of water to recharge the underground table. But federal rules prevent them from reaching capacity and it will take an act of Congress to change the rules. Big Dry Creek Reservoir in Clovis and Fancher Creek Reservoir east of Clovis together can hold 40,000 acre feet of storm water. That’s water that can eventually stream into the underground water table. 

Aquafornia news KDRV

Siskiyou County water ordinances spark claims of racial profiling and discrimination

Following recent ordinances from Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors that prohibit the transfer of water along certain county roads without a permit, ripple effects have been seen throughout the community. The emergency ordinances were passed in an effort to crack down on illegal marijuana grow operations. … [The conflict] has fanned the flames of racism, saying they are seeing community members racially profile Asian Americans in the community because the Shasta Vista subdivision is known to have a large Asian American population.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Farmers buy land, make camp by shut Klamath irrigation canal

Two farmers with ties to anti-government activist Ammon Bundy have purchased land by a shut-off irrigation canal in Oregon that would normally deliver water to a massive federal irrigation project along the California-Oregon border and have set up a protest encampment there, Jefferson Public Radio reports. The move comes after federal regulators shut off all water deliveries from the project’s main “A Canal” due to extreme drought and the need to balance the water demands of farmers with threatened and endangered fish species …

Relate article:

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Chris Mathys, GOP primary candidate, begins effort to declare Delta smelt extinct

The delta smelt could be declared endangered if Chris Mathys, a Republican primary challenger to David Valadao, gets his way. “Federal and state mandated rules related to the delta smelt in California are severely restricting the releases of surface water relied upon by California’s farmers and ranchers. Agriculture products are vital to California’s economy and farmers depend on an adequate water supply to grow nuts, fruits and vegetables that provide food for Americans and the rest of the world,” Mathys wrote in a statement.

Aquafornia news Science Times

California town sinks 2 feet per year; here’s why Corcoran slowly turns into sinkhole

Over the past decade, the farming town of Corcoran, California, has been sinking two feet every year as agriculture firms pump underground water to irrigate crops. The 7.47 square-mile area in California’s San Joaquin Valley has 21,960 people and has sunk 11.5 feet in the last 14 years. According to the USGS California Water Science Center, the sinking is the product of agriculture industries pumping underground water to irrigate their crops for decades. 

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Friday Top of the Scroll: As California’s drought worsens, the Biden Administration cuts water supplies and farmers struggle to compensate

The impacts of California’s deepening drought hit home for Central Valley farmers earlier this week, when federal officials announced they didn’t have enough water to supply many of their agricultural customers. Urban users south of San Francisco in Santa Clara County saw their normal water deliveries cut in half. California ships water to cities and farms through a combination of state and federal programs that oversee a complex network of hundreds of miles of dams, reservoirs and aqueducts throughout the state.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

‘Ammon Bundy coming.’ Water cutoffs ignite rebellion in CA

In the summer of 2001, local farmers and other activists armed with saws and blowtorches breached a chain-link fence and opened the headgates of a federal canal that supplies farmland in Oregon and far Northern California. Local farmer Grant Knoll was among the activists there that year. The protesters forced the gates open three times but were eventually blocked by U.S. marshals. Now, with a drought just as severe as two decades ago — and with farmers’ water again cut off — he’s prepared to fight again.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news USDA

Blog: ARS scientists tackle California climate woes

A team of USDA agricultural scientists in the Golden State are helping farmers make the most out of a natural resource that is becoming ever more precious – water. California produces two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts and one-third of its vegetables, but above average temperatures and long-term drought have put a strain on the water resources it takes to grow these crops. Most of California’s precipitation falls during the winter, which means summertime irrigation is required to produce many of the state’s crops. Higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns increase water demand and reduce supply.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Paying for California’s water system

The state’s extensive water system supplies cities and farms; prevents pollution of lakes, rivers, and coastlines; protects against floods; and supports freshwater ecosystems and the forested headwaters that are a major source of water supply. Many local, state, and federal agencies oversee this system and raise revenues from a variety of sources. California spends about $37 billion annually, with the lion’s share (84%) coming from local water bills and taxes. The balance comes from state (13%) and federal (3%) contributions.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drought worsens. What’s ahead for fish, farms, cities

In just a few weeks, California’s water conditions have gone from bad to terrible. Sacramento residents have been asked to cut water usage 10%. Their counterparts on the Russian River are being told to reduce their consumption 20%. Farmers across the Central Valley are letting fields lie fallow and dismantling their orchards. Government agencies are warning of massive fish kills on the Sacramento River. After a warm spring dried up practically the entire Sierra Nevada snowpack — and robbed California of enough water to fill most of Folsom Lake — state and federal officials have been forced to dramatically ramp up their drought response plans.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Deseret News

The Great Salt Lake and Iran’s Lake Urmia try to save each other

It has lost nearly 95% of its volume in the past two decades, upending what was once a thriving resort economy, a healthy brine shrimp population, crucial wildlife and bird habitat, and critical mineral extraction industries. The miles of stark, exposed lakebed threaten the millions of people who live nearby due to wind-whipped dust settling in their lungs. It’s Lake Urmia, nearly 6,900 miles away from the Great Salt Lake. But the two are now connected as efforts to save this lake deliver unique lessons as Utah grapples with a way to preserve and save its salty landmark from a similar fate.

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

In a surprise move, Nordic Aquafarms agrees to conduct full environmental impact report for its land-based fish farm on the Samoa Peninsula

In terms of sheer size, Nordic Aquafarms’ land-based aquaculture facility, slated for construction on the Samoa Peninsula, would be the largest development project Humboldt County has seen for decades, maybe since the heyday of the timber industry. The facility’s five buildings — including two massive production modules where Atlantic salmon would be raised inside fully-contained recirculating tanks — would total 766,530 square feet, nearly an acre larger than the footprint of the Bayshore Mall. It’s been more than two years since the Norwegian company announced its ambitious plans, and the environmental review period was scheduled to wrap up this week. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought prompts delivery cutback from federal government

California’s water supply got cut again Wednesday, with the federal government reducing allocations to cities and farms as the drought intensified. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that municipal water agencies that rely on the Central Valley Project will have this year’s allocations slashed from 55% down to 25% — a level not seen since the drought of 2015. That could put additional pressure on the municipalities around greater Sacramento that depend on supplies from Folsom Lake, whose water levels have sunk dramatically this spring. The reservoir is at 46% of its usual capacity for late May.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Asian cannabis growers in CA face water cuts, sheriff raids

Day after day, sheriff’s deputies drive up and down the road outside Steve Griset’s 600-acre farm, pulling over anyone who appears to be hauling water for the thousands of marijuana greenhouses that have taken over the countryside here. Griset has become a target, even though he grows alfalfa. Last year, investigators with the Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office raided Griset’s house with a search warrant looking for his business records, and the DA followed up with a lawsuit in civil court. Griset’s alleged transgressions? He was selling water from his well to his pot-farming neighbors, immigrants of Hmong descent …

Aquafornia news OPB

Irrigators set up encampment next to Klamath Project headgates

Twenty years after a shut-off of most irrigation water in the parched Klamath Project brought the competing needs of farmers, fishermen and tribes to a head, a new drought — and a fresh federally-ordered water shut-off — is triggering a sense of déjà vu. Now, two Klamath Project irrigators with ties to radical activist Ammon Bundy have purchased private property located next to the headgates of the “A” Canal in Klamath Falls, which would normally deliver water to area farms. And along with local members of the Oregon chapter of People’s Rights, a group founded by Bundy in 2020, they’ve set up an information center and gathering place to talk to the public about the brewing water crisis in the Klamath Basin.

Aquafornia news Imperial Irrigation District

News release: IID Director J.B. Hamby appointed to Colorado River Board of California

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office, by way of written communication, has notified Imperial Irrigation District Board Vice President J.B. Hamby of his appointment to the state’s Colorado River Board. … For the past 75 years the Colorado River Board of California’s mission has been to protect the interests and rights of the State of California, its agencies and citizens, in the water and power resources of the Colorado River system.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

The sinking Central Valley town

In California’s San Joaquin Valley, the farming town of Corcoran has a multimillion-dollar problem. It is almost impossible to see, yet so vast it takes NASA scientists using satellite technology to fully grasp. Corcoran is sinking. Over the past 14 years, the town has sunk as much as 11.5 feet in some places — enough to swallow the entire first floor of a two-story house and to at times make Corcoran one of the fastest-sinking areas in the country, according to experts with the United States Geological Survey.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Opinion: Facing multiple droughts, California agriculture needs consumers to step up

Governor Newsom’s recent emergency declaration confirms what California’s agriculture industry has known for months. Drought has returned to California, in what has become a recurring theme of growing food in our state. Farmers and ranchers accept the risks that come with their way of life and have fought hard to be productive in one of the most heavily regulated industries in the state. Agriculture continues to adapt to meet evolving challenges and now more than ever consumers need to buy California grown produce.
-Written by Ian LeMay, president of the California Fresh Fruit Association.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Fresno-area candidate for Congress wants to declare the Delta smelt extinct

A hopeful for a Fresno-area seat in Congress has initiated a petition to have the embattled Delta smelt declared extinct. Chris Mathys said Monday he took the first step toward that petition, which is a letter of intent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state of California 30 days before filing the formal petition. The petition is similar to a court document in that it needs to lay out the argument and back it up with facts and science, Mathys said.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Water crisis ‘couldn’t be worse’ on Oregon-California border

The water crisis along the California-Oregon border went from dire to catastrophic this week as federal regulators shut off irrigation water to farmers from a critical reservoir and said they would not send extra water to dying salmon downstream or to a half-dozen wildlife refuges that harbor millions of migrating birds each year. In what is shaping up to be the worst water crisis in generations, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it will not release water this season into the main canal that feeds the bulk of the massive Klamath Reclamation Project, marking a first for the 114-year-old irrigation system. 

Aquafornia news The Willits News

Farm Bureau: Off stream ponds help in drought conditions

The Mendocino County Farm Bureau encourages local, state and federal leadership to focus current drought relief measures on multi-purpose projects that address agricultural, municipal, environmental, recreational and fire suppression water needs. … On-stream ponds are created by damning a water course and off- stream ponds are created by diverting from a river, a well or a flood control contract. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: California must prevent another devastating drought

When Sierra snow seeps into the ground or evaporates before it can flow downstream into reservoirs, you know California is facing a severe drought. It’s happening this spring up and down the mountain range that is a primary water source for the state. Water from snowmelt that hydrologists had expected only a few weeks ago to replenish foothill reservoirs is vanishing. It’s being absorbed by the parched soil or dissipating into the thin mountain air.
-Written by George Skelton, a Los Angeles Times columnist.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Failing water infrastructure disproportionately hurts disadvantaged communities

The infrastructure Californians rely on to move water throughout the state is aging, deteriorating and in desperate need of repair. The cost of doing nothing will be borne by all water users — cities, towns, businesses, farms and the environment. However, the negative impacts from further neglect will land disproportionately on already disadvantaged communities.
-Written by Ian LeMay, president of the California Fresh Fruit Association. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

News release: Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District names Kristin Sicke as new general manager

Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District is pleased to announce that Kristin Sicke has been selected to become the new general manager of the irrigation district.  The District’s primary mission is to provide surface water for agricultural purposes in western Yolo County, and is integral to monitoring and maintaining sustainable groundwater supplies within the county.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Facing a drought, California’s farmers make hard choices

In wetter times, these feathery beds of asparagus would produce generations of tender green spears, reaching for the vast San Joaquin Valley sky. [Last] Monday they were disked into the dry dirt, their long lives cut short by unreliable and expensive water. … With no guarantee of irrigation water this summer, Del Bosque and other California farmers are making tough choices, sacrificing one crop to save another. The strategy is part of a larger and longer agricultural shift here in the heart of California’s $50 billion agriculture industry: Low-value, high-water crops are disappearing from the Golden State.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Wall Street Journal

Drought imperils economy in California’s farm country

Sitting in a pickup truck on his almond farm 100 miles north of San Francisco, Tom Butler pointed to a withered grove he has been planning to bulldoze in order to save his little remaining water for younger trees. … California is gripped in severe drought just four years after emerging from the last one, forcing many farmers to scramble to find enough water. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has cut the water allocations for many to zero this year. Last year, when the latest dry spell began, the same farmers were allocated 20% of what they are contracted to receive annually.

Related articles: 

 

Aquafornia news KMPH

Will the nutria ever be wiped out in the Valley?

The swamp rat population in Central California is beginning to diminish. But a state biologist says elimination is still a few years away. FOX26 reporter Rich Rodriguez updates us on the nutria… one of Valley agriculture’s biggest enemies. The State Department of Fish and Wildlife has spent more than three years trying to round up and euthanize nutria.

Aquafornia news Growing Produce

How California vegetable growers can adapt to new nitrogen rules

Growers in the Central Coast region of California produce most of the cool-season vegetables for the U.S. from March to mid-November. After several years of multi-cropping vegetables, the groundwater in many of the coastal valleys has become contaminated with nitrate. Some wells have concentrations of nitrate several times the federal drinking water standard of 10 ppm (parts per million) nitrate-N. Rural communities that rely on groundwater as their sole source of drinking water must purchase bottled water or install small reverse osmosis systems.

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost/Humboldt County Sheriff's Office

News release: Around 2,000 cannabis plants eradicated, water diversions observed at unpermitted grow in far east Humboldt County

On May 18, 2021, deputies with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) served one search warrant to investigate illegal cannabis cultivation in the Blake Mountain area of Eastern Humboldt County. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services Environmental Health – HazMat Unit, Humboldt County Code Enforcement and the California State Water Resources Control Board assisted in the service of the warrant.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news KOBI-TV NBC5 / KOTI-TV NBC2

Klamath Water Users Association urges calm during irrigation crisis

Following the announcement that one of the Klamath Basin’s main irrigation canals won’t open this summer, the Klamath Water Users Association is asking for peace. Last week, the Bureau of Reclamation announced the shutoff the A Canal, the principal irrigation canal for the Klamath Project, meaning thousands of farmers are without water for the irrigation season. This past Thursday, several dozen people took to the streets of Klamath Falls to peacefully protest. Around 50 people gathered in front of the Klamath Irrigation District office. They asked for more water to be released from Upper Klamath Lake.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California’s budget surplus can help achieve a climate-safe future

California is becoming ground zero for the climate crisis. Intensifying drought and wildfire emergencies caused by climate change are the harbingers of a great gamble that risk the loss of California as we know it. The drought is not an anomaly but part of a multi-decadal pattern caused by climate change, threatening dust bowl-like impacts to California’s agricultural heartland. It fueled the largest wildfires in state history. More than 4.2 million acres burned last year, causing a toxic smoke storm that smothered much of the state.
-Written by Nayamin Martinez, the executive director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network, and Judith Mitchell, who served for seven years on the California Air Resources Board, and 10 years on the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Water in shorter supply than ever, Calif. reps takes aim at state’s poor policies on Capitol Hill

With communities on the West Coast once again threatened by extreme drought, Republicans on the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the issue. Central Valley representatives Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield), Devin Nunes (R–Tulare) and David Valadao (R–Hanford) joined the committee to address the drought.  The message was clear from all of the representatives and witnesses: The drought is a product of poor policies over the last several decades.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news BBC Future

Why Peru is reviving a pre-Incan technology for water

Today, modern Peruvians are redeploying that ancient knowledge and protecting natural ecosystems such as high-altitude wetlands to help the country adapt to climate change. It’s one of the world’s first efforts to integrate nature into water management on a national scale. … Several years ago, desperate for water security, the country’s leaders did something radical: they passed a series of national laws requiring water utilities to invest a percentage of their customers’ bills in “natural infrastructure”.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: State plans $30 million wall to stop saltwater intrusion into delta – drought fallout

In the latest chapter of California’s unfolding drought, state officials are planning to build a giant rock wall across a river in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to save the vital freshwater estuary from San Francisco Bay’s saltwater. The emergency measure is a page from last decade’s drought when the delta, a maze of sloughs and man-made channels east of the Bay Area, was at risk of becoming too salty to provide water to the nearly 30 million Californians who depend on it. As in 2015, the freshwater rivers that feed the 1,100-square-mile delta have gotten so low that they no longer counter the brackish flows that push in from the bay. 

Aquafornia news Fox KTVU 2

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

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

ACWA conference: The decade of water resilience – Developing solutions for our water future

Last week, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) held their spring conference virtually.  Keynote speakers included Wade Crowfoot, Secretary of Natural Resources, and Karla Nemeth, Director of the Department of Water Resources.  In his speech, [Crowfoot] discussed the Newsom Administration’s priorities, calling this the ‘decade of resilience’, and giving three principles for going forward.  He also discussed the Voluntary Agreements.  Director Karla Nemeth gave the Thursday morning keynote speech, touching on the Department’s response to drought, SGMA implementation, the Delta Conveyance Project, and the water use efficiency regulations.

Aquafornia news Yuba Water Agency

News release: Yuba Water Agency provides $2 million loan for Goldfields flood risk reduction work

Yuba Water Agency’s board of directors today approved a $2 million loan to the Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority to complete the construction of a new levee near the Yuba Goldfields that will bring a 200-year level of urban flood protection to southern Yuba County. The 2.5-mile-long levee, which will be fully complete in June, runs parallel to Hammonton-Smartsville Road and extends to high ground near Beale Air Force Base. The 200-year level of protection means there is a 1-in-200 chance in any given year that a storm could come along that is bigger than the levee is designed to handle.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Field note – The importance of partnerships with Andrew Braugh

The Shasta-Klamath Region organizes work around protecting California source water and volcanic aquifers, working with family farms to improve water management, and protecting legacy fly-fishing waters like the McCloud River, Hat Creek, and Fall River. In 2021, we are heavily invested in conservation projects in the Shasta and Scott watersheds. These key Klamath tributaries will be critical for recovering salmon populations in the Mid-Klamath Basin after dam removal.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Zero water allocation pushes Klamath Project farms to the brink

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

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

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

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

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Irrigation districts look to transfers as water dwindles

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

Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

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

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

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management

Blog: Captive breeding of Delta smelt: Worthy experiment or well-intended folly?

Delta smelt have nearly ceased to appear in “pelagic” fish surveys carried out in their narrow geographic range in the upper San Francisco Estuary. As trawl-generated index values for delta smelt have declined over the past quarter century – understand there is no reliable estimate of the size of the delta smelt population — the chorus of voices advocating for captive rearing and releases of the species has grown louder. 

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Silent no more: Klamath Tribes gather to protect fish, homelands

A group of protesters gathered at Sugarman’s Corner in downtown Klamath Falls on Saturday, preparing to welcome a 25-car caravan of mostly Klamath Tribal members calling for solutions to the Klamath Basin’s water crisis. A man walked by the demonstrators, eyeing their signs with statements like “Peace and Healing in the Klamath Basin,” “Water Justice is Social Justice” and “Undam the Klamath.” 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news UC Riverside

New research: Discovery increases likelihood of growing food despite drought 

University of California scientists have discovered genetic data that will help food crops like tomatoes and rice survive longer, more intense periods of drought on our warming planet. Field-grown rice roots sampled for research. Over the course of the last decade, the research team sought to create a molecular atlas of crop roots, where plants first detect the effects of drought and other environmental threats. In so doing, they uncovered genes that scientists can use to protect the plants from these stresses. 

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Arizona lawmakers float idea of piping water from the Mississippi

The drought has some members of the Arizona Legislature wondering if the state should look for a new source of water: the Mississippi River. Conservationists wonder if lawmakers should try a different approach. As Arizona braces for a drought contingency plan to kick in, the Legislature has floated the idea of damming the Mississippi and piping the water here. The idea received overwhelming support among lawmakers, though it is unclear if the project is viable. Sandy Bahr, with the Sierra Club, told KJZZ’s The Show last month the state needs to adjust its thinking about water, especially in times of drought.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

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

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

Related articles:

 

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

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

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

Aquafornia news Euronews

Could trading water on the stock market actually be good for the environment?

Last year, for the first time, it became possible to trade water on Wall Street through futures contracts. Normally reserved for commodities like oil or precious metals, water became the latest asset to join the financial market. But how could this practice impact the planet? The trading in the future prices of highly-prized commodities, where buyers agree to purchase an asset at a set date in the future for an agreed price, began in Japan in the seventeenth century with the trading in rice futures. The latest commodity to begin trading in futures is water supplied in American’s most populous state, California.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Related article:

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Another record almond crop forecasted by USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is forecasting another record almond crop for California. The 2021 California Almond Subjective Forecast estimates a three percent increase from last year’s 3.12-billion-pound crop. According to USDA-NASS, California growers could be looking at a 2021 crop of 3.2 billion pounds. If that number comes to fruition, it would be the largest almond crop on record. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Sacramento CBS Local

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

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

Related articles:

 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water crisis ‘couldn’t be worse’ on Oregon-California border

The water crisis along the California-Oregon border went from dire to catastrophic as federal regulators shut off irrigation water to farmers from a critical reservoir and said they would not send extra water to dying salmon downstream or to a half-dozen wildlife refuges that harbor millions of migrating birds each year. In what is shaping up to be the worst water crisis in generations, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it will not release water this season into the main canal that feeds the bulk of the massive Klamath Reclamation Project, marking a first for the 114-year-old irrigation system. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Lessons for California: Australian reservoirs took a long time to recover from megadrought

Rain has long signaled the end of a drought, but a new analysis of Australia’s worst dry spell in a century reveals many water reservoirs remained low nearly a decade after the rain returned. Research published in the journal Science on Thursday studies 15 years of data collected before, during and after the Millennium Drought dried out Victoria, Australia, from 2001 to 2009 and reveals flaws in the long-held belief that reservoirs naturally replenish after drought ends.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona is depleting groundwater in many areas, researchers warn

In 1980, Arizona began regulating groundwater in the state’s largest cities and suburbs under a landmark law that called for most of these areas to achieve an overarching goal by 2025: a long-term balance between the amount of water pumped from the ground and the amount seeping back underground to replenish aquifers. Forty-one years later … [g]roundwater is still overpumped in most of the state’s “active-management areas,” or AMAs. And in many places, aquifer levels continue to decline.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Farmers will get zero allocation from Klamath Project in 2021

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that more than 1,000 farmers in the Klamath Basin will not receive any reserved water from Upper Klamath Lake — a devastating prospect for farmers who have already planted fields, hired crews and made plans for the growing season ahead. … Farmers in Klamath, Siskiyou and Modoc counties were already reeling over the prospect of receiving less than 10% of their allotment, or a total of 33,000 acre-feet of water. The latest announcement feels “like a punch to the gut,” farmers said …