Water: Upbeat first assessment of year’s supplies



The rainy season isn’t over yet, but California farmers already have reasons to be optimistic about the 2011 harvest.

A torrent of early winter storms and higher-than-expected water left from 2010 prompted federal regulators Tuesday to issue an upbeat first assessment of the year’s water supplies.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the sprawling network of pipes and pumps that bring water to Central Valley farmlands and some urban customers in the Bay Area, expects to deliver as much as 100 percent of the water supplies requested.

“The new year starts with an encouraging water supply forecast, thanks to the precipitation delivered by Mother Nature,” David Hayes, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, said in a statement.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/18/BARH1HARF6.DTL#ixzz1Bh1HaBxh

Expert urges agriculture water use changes

An expert says small changes in agricultural irrigation practices could eliminate wasteful water use.

Delta Watermaster Craig Wilson says in a report being presented to the State Water Resources Control Board next week that California should crack down and aggressively enforce the state’s ban on wasteful water use.

The Los Angeles Times reports Tuesday that Wilson proposes broader enforcement of the state Constitution’s “reasonable use” doctrine rather than current case-by-case enforcement.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/01/11/state/n054733S81.DTL#ixzz1AkUIlw4h

California growers put forth water alternative

SALINAS, Calif. — A new water quality plan by the California Farm Bureau Federation offers an alternative to a state regulatory proposal that some growers have called punitive and costly.

At issue is the expiring conditional waiver of waste discharge requirements, up for a five-year renewal March 17. In California, the waiver shapes policy on the runoff of pesticides, fertilizers and fumigants from irrigated farming.

The federation submitted its plan Dec. 3 to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board on behalf of the Ag Working Group. More than a dozen growers’ organizations from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz form the group. Supporters include two grower-shipper associations and Western Growers.

Growers took steps to advance water quality under the prior waiver, the state’s draft order says, but stricter verification is needed. Agriculture, it says, is responsible for 78% of nitrate pollution in groundwater — water that finds its way into hundreds of drinking wells in the region.

Read more…

Water Deals Heighten Concern for Farms

Two farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley are proposing to do with their water what farmers around the country have done for decades: sell it to developers.

The farmers pay a maximum of $500 per acre-foot of water from the state water project, KFSN-TV reported. But the Tejon Ranch is paying the farmers $5,850 an acre-foot, meaning that the sellers will net $11.7 million. (An acre-foot is generally considered the amount of water two average households use annually.)

The fields, within the Dudley Ridge Water district, a small 30,000-acre area in southern Kings County, northeast of Los Angeles, produce fruit and nut trees — pomegranates, pistachios and the like.

Farms in the district have been the source of large water transfers to developers before.

Read more…

In Defense of Farming

By David Mas Masumoto

We’ve all heard it: The Valley needs to diversify the economy and stop being so dependent on agriculture. We need better-paying jobs, get people out of the fields, and stop the exploitation. The Valley must develop other resources and create another identity; we need to be something more than cows and critters, vines and cheap vino.

I hear the message: We’d be better off without farms and farmers.

I am defensive. We in the Valley already have a powerful economic identity called agriculture. Yet people seem to want to discard it, ignore it, and forget it.

Agriculture in our Valley is a multibillion dollar industry. When compared with the flash of the film industry or the sizzle of high technology, we don’t stand a chance. We aren’t sexy enough.

Read more: http://www.fresnobee.com/2010/09/24/2091645/in-defense-of-farming.html#ixzz10kWpg09F

Proposal: Calif. farmers could own water pipes

FRESNO, Calif. — The federal government is considering giving Central California farmers some massive water infrastructure to settle a lawsuit over drainage problems that killed birds and left farmland too salty for crops, according to a draft proposal obtained by The Associated Press.

Shifting the cleanup cost to the private sector would save the federal government about $2.2 billion, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said Wednesday.

The complex deal could transfer the government’s stake in local pumps and drain pipes to some of the country’s biggest farming operations, according to a bureau letter detailing the legislative strategy for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Read more…

Proposal: Calif. farmers could own water pipes

FRESNO, Calif. — The federal government is considering giving Central California farmers some massive water infrastructure to settle a lawsuit over drainage problems that killed birds and left farmland too salty for crops, according to a draft proposal obtained by The Associated Press.

Shifting the cleanup cost to the private sector would save the federal government about $2.2 billion, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said Wednesday.

Read more…

Who is the California Farm Water Coalition?

David Zetland:

Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition, has often commented (or been quoted) on this blog and other places in favor of continuing or increased water deliveries to agricultural interests.

And I have often disagreed with the way that Mike has presented his case.

What bothered me was Mike’s dogmatic insistence that water for ag was more important than water in other places. It reminded me of how a lawyer or lobbyist would say or do anything to benefit his client.

And that made me wonder just WHO Mike’s client was. It also made me wonder if CFWC was not violating its status as a 501(c)3 non-profit, which forbids lobbying* legislators on particular legislation (such as the water bills or how to allocate federal stimulus money).

Read more…

Farmers, cities negotiate Calif. water swap

FRESNO, Calif. — San Joaquin Valley farmers want to send their extra water supplies to Southern California this year in exchange for more irrigation flows next summer.

Under the proposal approved by the Westlands Water District’s board of directors Tuesday, farmers would transfer as much as 100,000 acre-feet of water to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

In turn, Westlands – the nation’s largest irrigation district – would get back two-thirds of the volume it sends south from Metropolitan next summer. Westlands otherwise risks losing its surplus because all of the water can’t be stored.

Metropolitan

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/07/27/2918770/farmers-cities-negotiate-calif.html#ixzz0uvdcjUVo

Farmers use less water than most people think

By JOHN GARNER

Some people believe farmers use too much water. However, the amount of water actually used to grow our food is far less than many people believe.
I am a second-generation family farmer. We produce rice and walnuts in the Sacramento Valley. Like most family farmers, we don’t take water for granted. We often use the same water over and over again as it moves from farm to farm. We also pay for our water.Read more…  

Congressman Cardoza: Efforts to Address Ag Water Shortage are Encouraging

Interior Department Announces Increase to 40 Percent Allocation for Farmers

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Cardoza said he was encouraged by recent efforts to address the California water supply crisis which has adversely affected San Joaquin Valley farmers.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that farmers south of the Bay Delta will receive a 40 percent water allocation, the amount farmers had said they would need to get by this year. The allocation marks another 10 percent increase from the allocation announced in April, and a 30 percent increase over the 5 percent initially projected in February.

Read more…

California Farmers to Get More Water

Water deliveries to farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley are on the rise this year.

Both the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the federal U.S. Bureau of Reclamation yesterday announced they would increase 2010 water allocations to 40% for water contractors south of the Delta.

Read more…

House agriculture panel plans hearing in Fresno

2012 Farm Bill: The Dance Begins

In most of the West’s river basins agriculture – including crop and livestock agriculture – directly consumes 80% to 90% of the base flow. Base flow refers to the lowest natural flow of a river or stream; in our region those flows occur during late summer and early fall.  Irrigation engineers tell us that water consumption by agriculture in western river basins can be reduced between 10 and 40% by implementing modern irrigation methods and equipment. Were that to actually happen, current and predicted water shortages in the West would evaporate like water in a shallow reservoir as would proposals for new dams and other massive infrastructure projects currently being promoted in states like California.

Read more…

Drop of Hope for Thirsty Farm Economy

RIVERDALE, Calif.—There’s a trickle of new hope in California’s drought-stricken farm economy, as water agencies open irrigation spigots a little more this year, allowing farmers to increase planting and hiring.

Read more…