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.
The drought may be over and Central Valley farmers are getting
more water than they have in years, but that hasn’t stopped
congressional Republicans from resurrecting a bill that would
strip environmental protections for fish so more water can be
funneled to agriculture. … Some version of [Rep. David]
Valadao’s bill has been introduced off and on since 2011
Groundwater replenishment happens
through direct recharge and in-lieu recharge. Water used for
direct recharge most often comes from flood flows, water
conservation, recycled water, desalination and water
The governor’s proposed Delta tunnels ran into a roomful of
skeptics Monday – an influential group of San Joaquin Valley
farmers who remain unconvinced the controversial project will
deliver the water they need at a price they’re prepared to
The State Water Resources Control Board announced in
September that it plans to return the San Joaquin River to
40 percent of its “unimpaired flow.” … The goal, according to
the water board, is to rebalance water demand on the state’s
second-largest river. … The board plans a similar process for
the Sacramento River, the state’s largest river.
A settlement in a lawsuit that targeted dairy and beef cattle
operations in the Point Reyes National Seashore now threatens
the future of ranching in West Marin. … The suit, filed
in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, also asserted that
cattle were causing erosion, polluting waterways with manure
and harming endangered salmon and other species, while blocking
A century ago, agents from Los Angeles converged on the Owens
Valley on a secret mission. They figured out who owned water
rights in the lush valley and began quietly purchasing land,
posing as ranchers and farmers.
Agricultural leaders and farmers pressed their case for a
reliable water supply, immigration reform and their fair share
of the Farm Bill during a roundtable discussion with Sen.
Kamala Harris on Wednesday. Harris is the former attorney
general who won election last November in the race to replace
outgoing Democrat Barbara Boxer.
The meeting between [U.S. Sen. Kamala] Harris and nearly two
dozen agriculture and water officials was meant to ease what is
typically a fraught relationship between the state’s Democratic
leaders — all of whose power bases are in metropolitan areas —
and the mostly Republican Central Valley powers that
traditionally look at them with skepticism.
A California farmer facing a $2.8 million fine
for allegedly plowing seasonal wetlands on his 450-acre
Tehama County land lashed out Friday against federal
prosecutors and bureaucrats for what he called an abuse of
California farmer John Duarte, facing a hefty fine over
water-law violations for plowing a field, wants to call in a
big gun in his high-profile court case in Sacramento: Scott
Pruitt, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection
It’s expected to cost area agri-businesses about $1 million to
provide bottled water to lower-income Salinas Valley residents
whose water supply has been contaminated by nitrates in the
first year of a pilot program.
Regional Climate Centers, a little-known network of weather
data gathering and processing centers, face an existential
threat in the form of a recommended 82 percent budget cut in
[President Donald] Trump’s proposed budget. Centers manage
weather information that helps fire managers battle wild land
fires, helps farmers decide where and when to plant crops and
helps engineers design dams and bridges that can
stand up to extremes.
This year has brought the mighty river flows that environmental
and fishing groups say are vital to salmon. A farmer or city
water user might disagree: Yes, the fish need high water at
times, but not at the 2017 volume. And we should be adding
reservoir space to carry over the excess for dry years ahead.
Vickie Mulas, a partner in her family’s Sonoma Valley dairy and
vineyard operations, is no friend of regulations. … But
Mulas, a member of a prominent local ranching family, relishes
her role in California’s newest round of rule-making that will
— in an unprecedented departure from past practice — put limits
on how much water people can pump out of the ground.
To no one’s surprise Tuesday, the Turlock Irrigation District
board endorsed Tuolumne River fishery improvements that do not
involve boosting reservoir releases. Directors voted 5-0 to
support a proposal made by San Francisco in response to a state
effort to sharply increase flows for salmon and other native
fish on this and nearby rivers.
John Duarte spent five years fighting the Obama
administration’s Justice Department over charges that he broke
environmental laws by harming wetlands while planting a wheat
crop on his Northern California farm. He lost his case, and
faces a $2.8 million fine.
More than 11,000 foreign guest workers like [Alfredo]
Betancourt were approved last year to harvest the lettuce,
fruit and vegetables for California’s $47-billion agricultural
industry — a fivefold increase from 2011, according to a Los
Angeles Times analysis of U.S. Labor Department data. … If
growers have their way, they will get even more under the visa
program known as H-2A and face fewer barriers, delays and
A farmer faces trial in federal court this summer and a $2.8
million fine for failing to get a permit to plow his field
and plant wheat in Tehama County. … Because the property has
numerous swales and wetlands, [John] Duarte hired a consulting
firm to map out areas on the property that were not to be
plowed because they were part of the drainage for Coyote and
Oat creeks and were considered “waters of the United States.”
During California’s epic five-year drought, most of the state’s
irrigation districts didn’t comply with a 2007 law that
requires them to account for how much water they’re delivering
directly to farmers, a Bee investigation has found. State
regulators are largely powerless to stop them, but they don’t
seem too bothered by it.
Water is expensive – and securing enough money to ensure
reliability and efficiency of the state’s water systems and
ecosystems is a constant challenge.
In 2014, California voters approved Proposition 1, authorizing a
$7.5 billion bond to fund water projects throughout the state.
This included investments in water storage, watershed protection
and restoration, groundwater sustainability and drinking water
Land subsidence caused by groundwater pumping has been a problem
for decades in the San Joaquin Valley, but an increased reliance
on aquifers during the last decade has resulted in subsidence
rates in excess of a foot per year in some parts of the region.
University Business Center
Lourdes Cardenas, who has picked grapes in Fresno County for 14
years, wants some assurance she won’t be separated from her
family or continue to “live in fear” of deportation as a worker
in the country without legal permission.
On a mostly party-line 23-16 vote, the House Natural Resources
Committee approved the bill to settle the irrigation dispute
between the mammoth Westlands Water District and the federal
government. The measure relieves Westlands of a big
construction debt, and in turn shifts the burden for solving
the toxic drainage problem from the government to the water
Organic growers in California and other farm states appear
split over an industry promotion proposal that’s blossomed into
a heated dispute. … With a Wednesday public comment
deadline imminent, more than 11,000 public responses had
flooded the Agriculture Department as of Friday.
The water spread into every corner of the fields, beckoning
wading ibises and egrets as it bathed long rows of sprouting
grapevines. Several inches had covered the vineyard ground for
a couple of months. But rather than draining it, Don Cameron
was pouring more on.
Full water deliveries have returned to the last of the West
Side irrigation districts affected by federal water cutbacks in
recent years. … The news came too late for some farmers, who
have already planted based on the earlier projection of 65
percent for 2017.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is boosting the water allocation
for farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to 100
percent for the first time since 2006. The announcement Tuesday
comes only weeks after the bureau told disappointed growers
that they would receive 65 percent of the contract supply from
the Central Valley Project.
In a key ruling released Monday, a judge slammed the Oakdale
Irrigation District for skirting state law in last year’s
fallowing proposal. The district should have studied whether
shipping river water elsewhere might harm local groundwater
levels, Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne said
in a decision issued nearly 11 weeks after a one-day trial in
California farmers have a sympathetic president in the White
House and have enjoyed one of the wettest winters on record.
But those in a giant swath of the San Joaquin Valley, one of
the most productive agricultural regions in the country, are
due to get only two-thirds of their water allotment this year
from the federal government.
[Arnulfo] Solorio is one of a growing number of agricultural
businessmen who say they face an urgent shortage of workers.
The flow of labor began drying up when President Obama
tightened the border. Now President Trump is promising to
deport more people, raid more companies and build a wall on the
Farmers employ tens of thousands of people in the San Joaquin
Valley and run a $35 billion industry producing grapes, milk,
oranges, almonds and dozens of other commodities sold in stores
around the globe. Many of them supported Donald Trump for
president, calculating that his promise to deliver more water
to drought-starved valley farms would help them despite his
hard-line stance on immigration.
Worried about having to relinquish too much reservoir water and
saddle Bay Area customers with restrictions on their taps, San
Francisco officials plan to unveil a counterproposal Friday
that they say restores river habitat and helps fish while
maintaining water for cities and farms. … The plan already
has sparked an unusual alliance between San Francisco and the
Central Valley agricultural communities along the Tuolumne.
Modesto and Turlock farmers are thankful that record storms
have boosted to capacity Don Pedro Reservoir, which holds water
needed for crops. But excessive rain and snowmelt also have
washed huge amounts of debris into the Tuolumne River upstream
from the reservoir.
To hear John Duarte tell it, farmers knew the cavalry was
coming to their rescue on election night. … On Tuesday, Trump
ordered his new head of the Environmental Protection Agency,
Scott Pruitt, to scale back the agency’s interpretation of the
Clean Water Act.
With a Republican in the White House and the GOP controlling
Congress, Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., said Tuesday that he
was hoping to build on last year’s legislation that was loved
by farmers and loathed by environmentalists.
Federal officials announced Tuesday that the 20 reservoirs that
make up the Central Valley Project are so swollen with winter
runoff that many growers will get all the water they requested
this year — a remarkable change from the past few years when
countless orchards and fields received no federal water at all.
Last May, Donald Trump stood in an arena full of farmers from
California’s desiccated Central Valley and said words many
yearned to hear: “If I win, believe me, we’re going to start
opening up the water.”
California agriculture is going to have to learn to live with the
impacts of climate change and work toward reducing its
contributions of greenhouse gas emissions, a Yolo County walnut
grower said at the Jan. 26 California Climate Change Symposium in
“I don’t believe we are going to be able to adapt our way out of
climate change,” said Russ Lester, co-owner of Dixon Ridge Farms
in Winters. “We need to mitigate for it. It won’t solve the
problem but it can slow it down.”
While some farmers lament the release of thousands of acre-feet
of water from Friant Dam, others are putting it to good use:
recharging groundwater supplies. Last week, the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation began releasing water from Millerton Lake to make
room for a deluge of storm runoff.
Federal inspections of cattle and hog feedlots, turkey houses,
and other animal feeding operations dropped for a fourth
consecutive year, according to U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency data. The number of fines and orders to change
management practices for those same facilities fell for a fifth
A new rule issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to
allow the import of lemons from Argentina is leaving a sour
taste in the mouths of California lemon growers. … California
is the largest lemon-producing state in the U.S., with about
47,000 acres of bearing trees out of about 55,300 acres
nationwide, according to the USDA.
New Melones Reservoir would hold virtually nothing in about one
in seven years if the state’s river flow plan goes through,
water managers said Friday. They spoke at a State Water
Resources Control Board hearing that also drew support for
boosting the lower Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers to
San Joaquin County residents and public officials alike voiced
opposition this week against a state plan to increase flows
from the Stanislaus River as well as increase allowable salt in
the southern San Joaquin Delta, stating the proposals could
have significant negative impacts on the region’s agricultural
Urging her fellow lawmakers to pass a bill that would send more
of California’s water to the arid farm fields of the San
Joaquin Valley, Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave an impassioned
speech Friday about the threat facing family farmers.
California farmers and Southern California cities were aghast
last winter when much of the heavy rainfall that fell in
Northern California washed through the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta and out to sea.
Both California senators took to the floor Friday to take
opposite sides in a debate over provisions of a national water
resources bill that allows more water to be pumped south to
Central Valley agriculture at the expense of the salmon
The House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the biggest
federal reset of California water use in a generation, setting
the stage for easier dam-building, more recycling and
potentially happier Central Valley farmers.
The water policy measure overwhelmingly passed by the
House of Representatives on Thursday to build long-term water
infrastructure across the Golden State is headed for a showdown
with outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer, who plans to mount a
filibuster in the Senate on Friday as one of her final acts in
Tuesday, I visited a couple of projects in the Sacramento
Valley that are aimed at helping salmon on both ends of the
life cycle. They are collaborations between farmers and
environmentalists, two groups that are often at each other’s
throats in the never-ending battle over who is entitled to
California’s precious water supply.
A controversial California water bill that’s sparked years of
fighting has been added to a fast-moving measure, boosting the
chance the water measures will pass Congress but sharply
dividing the state’s U.S. senators.
House Republican leaders and California’s senior senator
announced Monday a new attempt to pass legislation that
would increase water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley
agribusiness and Southern California.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader
Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, teamed up Monday to slip a
legislative rider into a giant end-of-year water infrastructure
bill that would override endangered species protections for
native California fish for the purpose of sending water to San
Joaquin Valley farmers.
Asking the public to listen carefully to their controversial
plan, state water officials began a series of hearings Tuesday
on permanently shifting a share of water away from farms and
cities and reallocating it to wildlife on streams feeding the
San Joaquin River.
Fishing and environmental groups will get the first say Tuesday
about how much water should run down the Stanislaus, Tuolumne
and Merced rivers. The session in Sacramento will be the first
of five before the State Water Resources Control Board, which
is considering a major boost in the flows.
President-elect Donald Trump might have trouble living up to
one of his more sweeping campaign promises in California. On
the stump in Fresno last May, he made headlines for declaring,
“There is no drought” here.
Year after year, volunteers return to tributaries of the
Klamath River, just like the fish they’re trying to help
do the same thing. Jimmy Peterson, a fisheries project
coordinator for the Mid-Klamath Watershed Council, places rocks
and stones to make fish passages in Fort Goff Creek, 60 miles
up from the river’s mouth on California’s North Coast.
Friday will provide a chance to wade into the details of the
state’s proposal to increase flows on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne
and Merced rivers. … The public hearings will start Nov.
29 in Sacramento and continue in Modesto, Merced and Stockton
Thirsty avocado trees in the hills of De Luz are on a literal
chopping block. The Rancho California Water District on Monday,
Nov. 14, started accepting applications from district growers
who want to remove high water use crops, such as avocado trees,
for lower use varieties such as wine grapes or citrus trees.
An hour north of Sacramento, in a ghost town tucked into a
remote mountain valley, California is poised to build a massive
new reservoir – a water project of a size that hasn’t been
undertaken since Jerry Brown’s first stint as governor in the
1970s. Sites Reservoir, all $4.4 billion of it, represents an
about-face in a state where drought has become the norm and
water users are told to scrimp and save.
If there is a positive outcome of five years of drought in
California, it’s the lessons learned about how to manage water
during a shortage in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. On the
up-side, farmers got creative to cut back their water
diversions by 32 percent through a volunteer program. On the
learning-curve side, complex water rights confound who gets
water during shortage.
For more than 30 years, wastewater from oil and gas operations
has been used to irrigate food crops in California. Regulators
will re-examine the safety of that practice during a public
When California officials got serious about building two giant
tunnels to divert freshwater out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta, it didn’t take critics long to
propose alternatives. One of the first was a grassroots
scheme that, at first, seemed radical and counterintuitive: Let
winter floods retake vast parts of the San Joaquin Valley – the
very farmland that needs those Delta water diversions.
A plan to leave more water in streams feeding the San Joaquin
River will benefit Delta water exporters while letting the
government off the hook for failing to meet water quality
standards, San Joaquin County water wonks said Wednesday.
A project to rebuild the Wallace Weir, a century-old levee
northwest of Sacramento, could help both farmers and salmon.
Bringing together a coalition of unlikely allies, it promises a
more sophisticated approach to water management.
Manteca-area farmers voted this week to oppose a state proposal
to permanently allow more water to remain in the Stanislaus
River to protect fish. … The State Water Resources Control
Board says river flows would increase from roughly 20 percent
to perhaps 40 percent on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced
Westland Water District’s farmers generated $3.6 billion in
economic activity and created 29,000 jobs, according to a
recent economic analysis commissioned by the district. The
report, written by Pepperdine University public policy
professor Michael Shires, details Westland’s contributions to
the local and regional economy while also pointing out the
consequences of farming without a reliable water supply.
Pesticides can drift off the edges of orchards and end up in
streams that provide drinking water and fish habitat. A
promising solution: Use a fan to blow the chemical back into
the trees as the spray rig moves along.
Seventeen water districts in the San Joaquin Valley and the
city of Fresno have filed a blockbuster claim for $350 million
against the federal government for not delivering water to
Friant Division contractors in the drought year of 2014.
A state official on Tuesday defended plans to permanently allow
more water to remain in the San Joaquin River and its
tributaries in an effort to help struggling fish species. The
proposal, released last month, has come under attack from farms
and cities that rely on those tributaries, particularly in
Stanislaus and Merced counties.
Four of the five board members at the Turlock Irrigation
District voted Tuesday against the state’s proposed boost in
river flows. Meanwhile, the fifth board member was in
Sacramento to press the same case.
The AB 935 water projects bill by Assemblyman Rudy Salas,
D-Bakersfield, authorizes $7 million in state money to build
pumps to move water north to about Terra Bella via reverse flow
pump-back facilities still to be built.
The board of the Turlock Irrigation District will get its turn
Tuesday to denounce the river flow increases proposed by the
state. Later in the morning in Sacramento, supporters and
opponents of higher flows will speak to the California State
Board of Food and Agriculture.
Drive through rural Tulare County and you’ll hear it soon
enough, a roar from one of the hundreds of agricultural pumps
pulling water from beneath the soil to keep the nut and fruit
orchards and vast fields of corn and alfalfa lush and green
under the scorching San Joaquin Valley sun.
I [John Holland] drove out past Merced last year to see a dairy
farmer testing a new idea. He irrigated 40 acres of feed corn
with drip lines, which are much more common in orchards and
vineyards than annual crops.
From the Greek “xeros” and Middle Dutch “scap,”
xeriscape was coined
in 1978 and literally translates to “dry scene.”
Xeriscaping, by extension, is making an environment which can
tolerate dryness. This involves installing drought-resistant and
slow-growing plants to reduce water use.
Irrigation is the artificial supply
of water to grow crops or plants. Obtained from either surface or groundwater, it optimizes
agricultural production when the amount of rain and where it
falls is insufficient. Different irrigation
systems are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but in
practical use are often combined. Much of the agriculture in
California and the West relies on irrigation.
Excess salinity poses a growing
threat to food production, drinking water quality and public
health. Salts increase the cost of urban drinking water and
wastewater treatment, which are paid for by residents and
businesses. Increasing salinity is likely the largest long-term
chronic water quality impairment to surface and groundwater in California’s Central
Farm revenue in California dropped by more than $9 billion last
year as the drought forced farmers to scramble for water and
crucial commodities declined in price, according to data
released by the state and federal governments Tuesday.
A pollutant that has leached into California aquifers since
farmers first began using synthetic fertilizer continues to
accumulate and would not be removed from groundwater even if
the state’s agriculture businesses abruptly quit using
nitrogen-based materials to boost the productivity of their
A group of commercial fishermen won a potentially significant
court ruling in the seemingly endless battle over California’s
water supply and the volumes of water pumped south through the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
California is the country’s second-largest rice producer, after
Arkansas, and the $5 billion crop is particularly well suited
to the Sacramento Valley’s clay soil. … Although seeing
thousands of acres of rice fields covered shin-deep in water
might seem wasteful to some, not everyone sees it that way.
It might not be what you expect to hear about California
agriculture in the throes of drought: After four years of
historic water shortages, farm earnings in the state increased
16 percent, and total employment increased 5 percent. Yet those
are real numbers gathered by federal agencies that track
As Operation Yurok — which the Yurok Tribe carries out each
summer with help from local, state and national agencies —
continues this week, Yurok Tribe Chairman Thomas P. O’Rourke
Sr. said Wednesday the tribe may carry out similar raids later
this year. … Illegal diversion of water from stream and
creeks lead to less water for the Yurok people and the salmon
that live and spawn in the rivers.
Senior U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong rejected a
legal motion by the National Park Service to dismiss a lawsuit
brought by conservation groups seeking an updated general
management plan and assessment of the environmental impacts of
commercial dairy and cattle grazing at the Point Reyes National
Organizers of a petition drive to ban the practice of
irrigating crops with recycled oil field wastewater will be
pitching their cause on Saturday morning to customers at
markets in nine cities across the state, including a
Ralph’s in Los Angeles.
Framed by a hearing Tuesday, the GOP-controlled House of
Representatives will vote this week on whether to retain
farmer-friendly California water provisions in an Interior
Department funding bill for the fiscal year that begins in
With habitat for California waterbirds drying up, conservation
groups and rice farmers are collaborating to flood fields and
enhance waterbird habitat on roughly 550,000 acres of
California’s rice fields.
Members of Congress representing districts where citrus is
grown, including several from California where the domestic
lemon industry is centered, expressed disappointment Monday
that the USDA extended a public comment period on proposed
lemon imports by just 30 days.
Within less than a year, as many as 50,000 marijuana growers in
California could be required to obtain state permits for the
irrigation water they consume. … This new ability to regulate
water for marijuana growing is a result of SB 837, a state law
signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on June 27.
A federal agency projects a record almond crop in California
this year, based on sampling results announced Wednesday. The
orchards will yield an estimated 2.05 billion pounds, up from
an even 2 billion in a May projection, the National
Agricultural Statistics Service reported.
The Central Valley is home to California’s productive farming
belt, but the region’s groundwater is so severely overdrafted
in some places that the land has been sinking. … Now
scientists from Stanford University have found that the region
might actually have three times more groundwater than previous
estimates, which are decades old.
There are now 66 million dead trees in California’s forests due
to several years of drought and native bark beetles, creating a
“catastrophic” wildfire threat—or so claims U.S. Secretary of
Agriculture Tom Vilsack. While Vilsack’s assertion
may resonate with many in the general public because it makes
intuitive sense, it simply isn’t true.
Farms and golf courses rank among the biggest water users in
the Coachella Valley, but detailed information about how much
water each of those businesses use is kept secret by the area’s
largest water agency. That would change under a bill now before
the California Legislature.
Water leaders voted 3-2 Tuesday to sue to bar elected board
members Linda Santos and Gail Altieri from closed-door board
discussions regarding an ongoing lawsuit facing the Oakdale
Irrigation District. Santos and Altieri cast “no” votes but
were outvoted by board members Steve Webb, Gary Osmundson and
Point Reyes National Seashore is now at the center of an
unfolding dispute that ultimately seeks to define the nature of
America’s national parks: Can the treasured public scenery
accommodate the country’s ranching tradition?
State water regulators are proposing to dismiss a record
$1.5-million fine they intended to levy against a Northern
California irrigation district accused of ignoring
drought-related cuts in water diversions.
California’s tireless water warriors have something fresh to
fight over, with the introduction of a bill to resolve an
irrigation drainage dispute that affects three modest-sized San
Joaquin Valley water districts, as well as the much bigger
Westlands Water District.
A judge declined Wednesday to halt the Oakdale Irrigation
District’s evolving plan to idle some farmland and sell water
not needed for that land. The district has not revealed – to
the public or its own board of directors – how its fallowing
program has changed, other than to say that previous
prospective buyers no longer are involved.
Despite California’s drought, almond growers expanded their
orchards by an estimated 60,000 acres in 2015, marking the 12th
consecutive year of growth for the crop, which now covers more
than 1.1 million acres, or more than any other fruit, nut or
vegetable crop in the state.
Wildlife advocates scored a major victory Tuesday when
Mendocino County agreed to terminate its contract with the
federal agency that helps ranchers kill predators such as
mountain lions and coyotes that feast on livestock.
Surface water supplies have returned to normal for most rice
growers in the Sacramento Valley. … However, now that farmers
are ready to fire up their tractors to plant rice, commodity
prices have taken a nose-dive.
The truck company appeared legitimate, though the paperwork was
a bit sloppy. But after a few calls, the broker told Horizon
Nut Co. to load 45,000 pounds of shelled pistachios and send it
to the East Coast.
But attorneys for Delta farmers may be gearing up to challenge
certain aspects of the sale, which would, for the first time,
make Metropolitan a major landowner within the heart of
California’s water distribution system.
Don Cameron expects farmers will see some of the biggest
effects as the climate changes, and he says growers need to
take proactive steps to prepare. … He is one of several
featured speakers at the upcoming One Nation: Climate
Change forum at the Sunnylands Center and Gardens in
The rains this winter were more or less than expected,
depending on where you live and what you expected. … The
unequal distribution of water continues as state and federal
water leaders allocate surface water supply.
The Oakdale Irrigation District expects to reap $13.75 million
selling Stanislaus River water to buyers from the Fresno area
and on the Valley’s drought-scarred West Side, according to a
sales agreement unanimously approved Tuesday by the OID
The 2016 irrigation season is rolling out on these warm April
days with close-to-normal supplies in parts of the Northern San
Joaquin Valley. In other parts, the drought of the past few
years has not eased much, and farmers face another year of
Farm water managers said new rules for managing underground
supplies are confusing and potentially expensive. … The
regulations are slated to go into effect June 1; the state
Department of Water Resources is taking public comment about
them until April 1.
As lingering El Niño rains swell the state’s rivers, Democratic
Sen. Dianne Feinstein joined California House Republicans on
Thursday to demand that President Obama order more water to be
pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to farms in
the San Joaquin Valley.
A larger than expected almond crop and soft global demand have
sent the California nut industry into a tailspin, with prices
falling by more than half and unsold nuts mounting in
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein wants President Obama to order
an increase in water exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta to farms and cities to the south. … A dozen Republican
members of California’s House delegation sent a separate letter
calling on Obama to act.
Adding to the debate over Northern California’s winter
stormwater, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and congressional
Republicans asked President Obama on Thursday to increase the
volume of water pumped through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
to the drought-stricken San Joaquin Valley.
A potentially major new fight has erupted over Gov. Jerry
Brown’s plan to build two huge tunnels beneath the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and this time the protests are
coming from a group of farmers that wants the tunnels built.
Late last spring, amid the depths of California’s punishing
drought, state officials made a historic determination that
rivers and creeks were too low for many farms and cities to
draw from. Not everyone agreed, however.
Conaway Ranch, a 17,000-acre farm in which the Tsakopoulos
family acquired controlling interest in 2010, said Monday it
will work with water-use experts from Israel to experiment with
drip irrigation on a small portion of its rice fields.
In the darkest days of the drought last summer, when farmers up
and down the Central Valley feared the state would cut off
their water supply, a strange thing happened in the Delta.
Hundreds of growers agreed to voluntarily give up a share of
their extraordinarily reliable water supply, in exchange for
protection from the possibility of deeper, mandatory cuts.
Chris Rufer, 66, never has been keen on big government and
always liked an underdog fight. … That perseverance has Rufer
entangled in a $1.5-million battle with water regulators over
waste and odors from his tomato processing plant in the
Sacramento Valley town of Williams, the largest facility of its
kind in the country.
Saying too much water is flowing out to sea, U.S. Sen. Dianne
Feinstein on Friday called on operators of the federal and
state water projects to pump more water south through the Delta
to drought-stricken farms and cities in Central and Southern
Hence Assembly Bill 2496, which would end the [daylight saving
time] practice in California, undoing a law that voters
approved back in 1949 via Proposition 12. At the time, a ballot
statement in favor argued altered summertime hours would
bolster “public health and industrial efficiency” by improving
worker safety, limiting juvenile delinquency, saving water,
preventing car crashes and aiding farmers.
On a hot summer afternoon, California farmer Chris Hurd barrels
down a country road through the Central Valley city of
Firebaugh, his dog Frank riding in the truck bed. …
Agricultural land stretches out in every direction.
Humboldt County accounted for the majority of 51 medical
marijuana growers who have chosen to enroll in the North
Coast’s mandatory water quality protection program that hopes
to serve as a model for California.
Drought followed by the rains of El Niño, and heat followed by
cold snaps created a cauliflower price boom that now has turned
to a bust, and a celery inflation that lingered just long
enough, growers and industry experts say.
Only one farmer showed up Tuesday to share thoughts on the
irrigation district’s controversial habit of selling river
water to outside buyers, although benefits from doing so became
the focus of a subsequent budget discussion.
The decline also could influence whether farmers south of the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will agree to help pay for Gov.
Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels, the $15.5 billion plan to
re-engineer the fragile estuary with the goal of improving
reliability of water deliveries to Southern California cities
He’s [Nick Blom] a volunteer in an experiment run by UC
Davis that could offer a partial solution to California’s
perennial water shortages, and in the process, challenge some
long-standing tenets of flood control and farming in the
In an effort to restore California’s desperately depleted
ancient aquifers, scientists are testing an approach that
seizes surplus winter rain and delivers it to where it’s most
useful: idle farms and fields.
Even as California has marched out unprecedented water
restrictions during the drought, the spigots at thousands of
farms and ranches have gone largely unmonitored — a vestige of
the state’s Gold Rush-era water policy.