New Report Targets Unreasonable Water Use in California

Delta Watermaster Craig Wilson will present a highly anticipated report to the State Water Resources Control Board on January 19 suggesting that a particularly contentious area of California water law, the California Constitution’s “Reasonable and Beneficial Use Doctrine,” be applied more broadly.

In his report, Wilson recommends that the State Board employ this doctrine to promote agricultural water use efficiency. The doctrine states a water right does not include the right to waste water and mandates that “the water resources of the state be put to beneficial use,” according to the Planning and Conservation League Insider (http://www.pcl.org).

A small percentage of increased agricultural water use efficiency adds up to significant water savings in California, according to Wilson. The report recommends that the State Board convene a “Reasonable Use Summit” to develop specific actions to improve efficiency and create a “Reasonable Use Unit” within the Division of Water Rights.

Read more…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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