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.
An unlikely advocate seems to be around every bend of the Colorado River these days: the Walton Family Foundation. The $3.65 billion organization launched by Walmart founder Sam Walton has become ubiquitous in the seven-state basin that provides water to 40 million people, dishing out $100 million in grants in the last five years alone. … The foundation’s reach is dizzying and, outside the basin, has received scant attention. (First of two parts.)
Cannabis is the most highly regulated crop in California, and the state just added another layer of regulation. This article breaks down the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) recently updated Cannabis Cultivation Policy – Principles and Guidelines for Cannabis Cultivation (“Policy”) into six key takeaways.
Balancing fisheries restoration and water-supply reliability is central to a water struggle playing out in Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma and Humboldt counties after Pacific Gas and Electric Co. withdrew its application to relicense the Potter Valley Project, leaving the now “orphaned” project in the hands of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The California Farm Bureau delegation met last week with more than 20 members of the California congressional delegation, with a particular emphasis on members newly elected in 2018. They met with U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, two days before the Senate confirmed his appointment as the Cabinet’s newest member. For the first time in several years, they conducted a briefing for congressional staff members, to describe key issues facing California farmers and ranchers.
Agriculture appears to be slowly receding in California. Though it still leads the nation in production, the Golden State lost more than 1 million acres of farmland and some 7,000 farms from 2012-2017, according to the USDA’s latest Census of Agriculture.
The severe drought that struck California from 2011 to 2015 had an obvious impact on rivers, forests, and wildlife. Now, a new study shows it also had some surprising effects on the state’s notorious air pollution, adding new wrinkles to the state’s efforts to clear the skies.
Zig-zagging around us, among the trees, is a sprawling network of irrigation ditches. It’s almost laid out like a farm. Instead of the food crops grown all around this site, Schlatter’s team grows trees and willows, prime habitat for birds, coyotes, frogs and other wildlife. The whole site only receives water a couple times a year.
David Bernhardt, President Trump’s pick to the lead the Interior Department, was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday amid persistent ethical concerns and doubts about his independence from the energy and water industry groups he long represented as a lobbyist.
Casey Hashimoto, general manager of the Turlock Irrigation District since 2010, announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of 2019. The leader of one of Stanislaus County’s largest water and power providers disclosed his plans at the morning board meeting. Hashimoto, an electrical engineer, joined TID in 1985 and was an assistant GM for 10 years.
For the millions of Californians who live and work far from the Delta, it can be easy to overlook the splendor of the largest estuary in western North America. Whether you are one mile or hundreds of miles from the Delta, however, all Californians have a stake in the survival and preservation of this fragile, dynamic ecosystem that is also the keystone of the state’s water supply system.
The Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District, or ACID, Canal was covered in tree debris after the snow and rain storms. The workload was enough that Congressman Doug Lamalfa called in the California Conservation Corps.
Senate Bill 307 prohibits water transfers unless two agencies agree that the transfers do not harm state and federal desert lands. But it’s really about one thing: stopping the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project. … The Cadiz project has been thoroughly vetted and meets an important need. It’s time legislators let it proceed.
An increasing number of solutions to California and Arizona’s long-term water problems now involve Mexico. Some of the ideas are seemingly far-fetched, like a pipeline to bring water from the Gulf of California to the Salton Sea in Imperial County. Some are already happening, like Mexico agreeing to reduce its water use in the event of a Colorado River shortage. … That stands in contrast not only to recent threats by President Donald Trump to shut down the border, but some existing water projects.
Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid. Pumping rules in the Delta on Nov. 30, for example, are very different than those 24 hours later, regardless of the weather. … Simply put, we are stuck in yesterday’s way of regulating things.
Venture through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.
Despite its designation as a desert, the Coachella Valley is blessed with water. The very names associated with the most prominent places and businesses in the desert, such as the Oasis Hotel, Mineral Springs Hotel, Deep Well, Indian Wells, Palm Springs, Snow Creek, and Tahquitz River Estates, all conjure up pretty images of water. But the early story of desert water is more utilitarian than picturesque: it quite literally can be seen as a history of ditches.
Tohono O’odham Chairman Edward D. Manuel testified Thursday that lack of water has been killing crops and livestock – and, essentially, the tribe’s economy – and things will only get worse if federal funding is allowed to lapse. That’s why Manuel joined officials from other tribes, utilities and advocacy groups to urge passage of a bill by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, that would make permanent a federal fund used to help the government meet its obligations under legal settlements over water-rights issues.
As farmers plant their 2019 crops, hopeful for an abundant harvest, they are unknowingly battling history. Past wildfires and other tree loss in California will likely interfere with U.S. food crops, based on emerging results of our own and colleagues’ research. … Deforestation could cause millions of dollars in lost agricultural production throughout the U.S. But policy and practice still fail to recognize the interdependence of our wild and cultivated lands.
One month after destructive flooding tore through Sonoma County, residents are waiting for the state to decide if it will ask the federal government for a disaster declaration — a move that they say can bring them much-needed financial aid.
Brown and former first lady Anne Gust Brown, in their first public appearance since he left office in January, spoke to about 100 attendees about the daunting challenges they face living on a self-sustaining farm: installing solar panels for power, collecting water from a well, and tending to an olive tree orchard.
For the past year the state’s worked to eradicate the rodents for a second time. The rodents were brought to California in the 1900s for the fur trade and fur farming. “[The] challenge is we keep looking and we keep finding more nutria,” said Peter Tira with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “However, we do know there’s about 1.8 million acres of suitable nutria habitat. This is the largest nutria eradication ever attempted in the United States.”
Researchers across the United States say the milder winters of a changing climate are inducing earlier flowering of temperate tree fruits, exposing the blooms and nascent fruit to increasingly erratic frosts, hail and other adverse weather. The problem is not obvious to consumers, in part because a harvest collapse in one region can be masked by a bumper crop in another. But unless breeders can produce more climate-resilient varieties, fruit-growing regions of the United States will be seriously disrupted by future warming scenarios, scientists say.
Growers in the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement will soon be sanitizing “open-source” water used on their crops, which has been the focus of at least two recent E. coli outbreaks traced to leafy greens. Scott Horsfall, the group’s CEO, said the new water treatment rules could be implemented as early as late April, or as late as mid-July.
On our Bay-Delta Tour June 5-7, participants will hear from a diverse group of experts including water managers, environmentalists, farmers, engineers and scientists who will offer various perspectives on a proposed tunnel project that would carry water beneath the Delta, efforts to revitalize the Delta and risks that threaten its delicate ecological balance.
Any new path on California water must bring Delta community and fishing interests to the table. We have solutions to offer. We live with the impacts of state water management decisions from loss of recreation to degradation of water quality to collapsing fisheries. For example, how can new and improved technology be employed to track real time management of fisheries?
As the Sacramento River rose in late February and early March due to a series of storms, it spilled over and flooded several hundred acres of recently planted fields south of Hamilton City. Just the way it was planned. The river poured through a gap that had been opened in the old J Levee and flooded a habitat restoration project between the riverbank and a new levee that had been built, set back from the river a mile or so.
Some community members are demanding the county do more to safeguard reservoir water quality and save carbon-sequestering trees to combat climate change. Others say no proof exists that drastic steps are needed and that the results could hurt agriculture and vineyard development.
More than 400 nutria have been captured in the first year of an effort to eradicate the invasive South American rodent from California. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said Monday the semi-aquatic rodents were trapped in five counties in the San Joaquin Valley. Nutria are an agricultural pest, destroy wetlands critical to native wildlife and threaten water delivery and flood control infrastructure through destructive burrowing.
Five years ago, the Sweetwater Authority paid one of its engineers $175,000 to drop a lawsuit against the water district if he agreed to never work there again. Now, the engineer, Hector Martinez, is one of seven board members in charge of running the district.
I introduced AB 854 because the board of directors of IID, one of California’s most powerful municipal utilities, operates without representation from Riverside County ratepayers who make up 60 percent of their service territory. Moreover, according to The Desert Sun, Riverside County ratepayers provide IID with the majority of its revenue yet have no voice on how their municipal utility is managed.
State officials are throwing up legal barriers to some high-stakes attacks. … They are refusing to issue permits the federal government needs to build a controversial dam project… And they can use state water quality standards to limit Washington’s ability to boost irrigation supplies for Central Valley agriculture by relaxing federal safeguards for endangered fish.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has been battling the destructive Nutria for two years. State biologists believe it will be another three years before they win the war against the pesky rodent. The nutria is considered a triple threat to Valley wetlands, agriculture and water delivery systems.
Addressing concerns that include floods, droughts, wildfires and state regulations on river flow, two state officials advised farmers and ranchers to remain engaged in those and other natural-resources issues. At the California Farm Bureau Federation Leaders Conference in Sacramento last week, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said his top priorities include water and wildfire protection.
West Side agriculture, the diverse industry which is the background of the local economy, faces an array of challenges in the year ahead. … Water continues to be an uncertainty for growers served by federal agencies such as the Del Puerto Water District which runs along the I-5 corridor, despite heavy snow packs and filling reservoirs.
They are a semiaquatic South American rodent a bit smaller than a beaver. Females can give birth three times a year and have up to 12 babies each litter. They are really good at tearing up crops, burrowing tunnels into levees, and other destructive behavior that is tough on farmers. And they’ve been discovered in California’s San Joaquin Valley, a major food-producing area.
The Napa County Planning Commission is sending the controversial, draft Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance back to the Board of Supervisors with a few recommended changes, but no sea change in direction. Commissioners heard from about 50 speakers on Wednesday. Some warned that too many additional environmental restrictions will hurt farming. Some said that bold action is needed to protect drinking water and combat climate change.
Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the state’s high-speed rail project toward reservoir projects, as well as repairs to Friant-Kern Canal. … The proposals by U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy and state Assemblyman Vince Fong seize upon a common frustration among many valley Republicans that billions of state and federal dollars dedicated to high-speed rail would be better spent on capturing water from wet years…
A “major problem” in southeast Tulare County forced hundreds of people out of their homes and endangered thousands of animals. … Tulare County Sheriff’s Department was sent scrambling to notify residents in the area of Strathmore that Frazier Creek Canal spilled over and water levels were rising. Frazier Creek is directly linked to the Friant-Kern Canal. … Friant-Kern Water Authority officials later determined the flooding wasn’t caused by “overtopping” of the Friant-Kern Canal’s banks. The issue was drainage from Frazier Creek.
For a region so crucial to the growth of California as we know it today, you might think there would be libraries full of books about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. And yet, as UC Merced scholar Gregg Camfield wrote several years ago, the most obvious thing about the literature of the Delta “is how little there is.” Advocates of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas are trying to collect those scattered bits and pieces in a new anthology of the Delta.
California farmer Brenton Kelly still remembers how the Cuyama Valley used to be. The valley, located in California’s Central Coast region, has long been home to an abundance of wildlife. Historically, the land has been used for cattle pastures, and featured “beautiful rolling grassy hill” and an “amazing wildflower show,” according to Kelly. These days, however, the land has been taken over by large commercial farms and vineyards, Kelly said. … Among some of the corporations that have expanded into the region in recent years is an unlikely investor — the Harvard Management Company. HMC, the University’s investment arm, oversees Harvard’s nearly $40 billion endowment.
Recent plans to enlarge California’s Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet have raised concerns over possible cultural and ecological implications on wildlife among the Winnemem Wintu people and environmental groups alike. … The change in flood patterns would likely affect vital sacred sites for the Winnemen Wintu Puberty Ceremony for young women, according to the Winnemem Wintu website. The project would also relocate roads, railroads, bridges and marinas, according to a fact sheet from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
For California’s salmon fishermen, the downstream effects of political decisions in Washington are too obvious to ignore. It’s not merely a question of profit for us. We are the stewards of the public fisheries resources who rely on their long-term health for our existence. The viability of our future can be challenged by who is in power in Washington, no matter who they are.
Swollen rivers and creeks fed by atmospheric-river storms caused flooding with both short-term and long-term impacts for California farmers. Mary Ann Renner, a dairy farmer in the Humboldt County town of Ferndale, said the flood from the Eel River was not the worst she’s seen—but was close.
The extra water from Shasta Lake would raise the lake by an estimated 20 feet, inundating the McCloud River, which is protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. That piece of legislation was designed to protect the trout that heavily populate those waters. And it’s not just state law that speaks out. One of the provisions of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act is to protect fisheries up and down the state’s major rivers. Raising Shasta Dam now would only be possible by overturning those two laws.
Dam by dam, owners of smaller hydroelectric projects around the West look at them with a cold eye as relicensing looms. Created with optimism a century ago, dams are now seen as fish-killers and river-distorters. New energy sources are getting cheaper. After decades of operation, owners approach relicensing knowing that, if they are to continue generating a single watt of electricity, they must fix the problems.
Complaints are mounting against Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt over allegations he used his position to help the interests of his former lobbying client, California’s powerful Westlands Water District. The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint accusing Bernhardt of ethics violations by partaking in decisions directly related to his past lobbying work, resulting in rules that would free up more river water to Fresno-based Westlands and weakening protections for certain endangered fish populations.
Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in 2012 filed a 14-page lawsuit demanding the Fish and Wildlife Service protect the American eel as a threatened species under the ESA. Bernhardt filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of a California-based organization called the Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability, also known as CESAR. CESAR was, in fact, a group spun together by conservatives with roots in Western farming and the Bush administration.
The Colorado River has been dammed, diverted, and slowed by reservoirs, strangling the life out of a once-thriving ecosystem. But in the U.S. and Mexico, efforts are underway to revive sections of the river and restore vital riparian habitat for native plants, fish, and wildlife. Last in a series.
As a lobbyist and lawyer, David Bernhardt fought for years on behalf of a group of California farmers to weaken Endangered Species Act protections for a finger-size fish, the delta smelt, to gain access to irrigation water. As a top official since 2017 at the Interior Department, Mr. Bernhardt has been finishing the job: He is working to strip away the rules the farmers had hired him to oppose.
Congressmen John Garamendi and Doug LaMalfa have reintroduced legislation to provide farmers access to discounted rates under the National Flood Insurance Program. The bipartisan Flood Insurance for Farmers Act of 2019 (H.R.830) would also lift the de facto federal prohibition on construction and repair of agricultural structures in high flood-risk areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
New data released measure changes in land subsidence in the Sacramento Valley over the past nine years, finding the greatest land surface declines in Arbuckle. According to the Sacramento Valley GPS Subsidence Netwook Report and accompanying fact sheet … land in the Arbuckle area has sunk 2.14 feet compared with baseline measurements recorded in the same location in 2008, according to a press release from the Department of Water Resources.
Maintaining functional wetlands in a 21st-century landscape dominated by agriculture and cities requires a host of hard and soft infrastructures. Canals, pumps, and sluice gates provide critical life support, and the lands are irrigated and tilled in seasonal cycles to essentially farm wildlife. Reams of laws and regulations scaffold the system.
The proposed tunnel path stretches 35 miles from west of Elk Grove to just below Discovery Bay. The tunnels would take water from three intakes along the Sacramento River to existing aqueducts south of Discovery Bay, and then the water will be sent to Southern California. Along the proposed path, there are at least 22 levees that would sit above the tunnels…. The concern is not so much the levees themselves, but the kind of soil that is below the levees.
It took more than a decade to create, but a revised state definition of wetlands and procedures to protect them from dredge-and-fill activities requires still more work to make the plan more clear and to reduce its impact on farmers, ranchers and foresters.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Resources Control Board, or SWRCB, are extending outreach to the cannabis cultivating community with presentations at four permitting workshops in Northern California. The presentations are ideally suited for cannabis cultivators, consultants and anyone interested in the topic. SWRCB will cover policy and permitting, and other important information. Computers will be available for applicants to apply for water rights and water quality permits.
The nutria invasion of California continues. Greg Gerstenberg, a biologist and nutria operations chief with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said 372 nutria had been trapped in the state as of Jan. 10. Bruce Blodgett, executive director of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation, wants farmers and others who maintain levees to be aware.
Angelenos bearing gifts have elicited skepticism in Owens Valley since the early 1900s, when city agents posed as ranchers and farmers to buy land and water rights and then built dams and diversions that turned much of the region into an acrid dust bowl. Now, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is extending an olive branch. The department has proposed selling some of the commercial property it leases … to dozens of lessees in the financially struggling towns along a rustic, 112-mile stretch of Highway 395 between the eastern Sierra Nevada range and the White-Inyo Mountains.
Even in the depths of winter it’s easy to bite into a plump blackberry or a delicate red raspberry, thanks to Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry company. In late 2018, I traveled to the Pajaro Valley, west of Santa Cruz, for a tour of a Driscoll’s research facility, which provided an eye-opening view into how this family-owned company has become an agriculture leader selling berries every month of the year, and why they are so committed to water conservation.
Water is becoming a scarce resource in many parts of the world. Water tables have been falling in many regions for decades, particularly in areas with intensive agriculture. Wells are going dry and there are few long-term solutions available — a common stopgap has been to drill deeper wells. This is exactly what happened in California’s Central Valley. The recent drought there prompted drilling of deeper and deeper water wells to support irrigated agriculture.
Coachella Valley Water District board members on Tuesday debated issuing a $40 million bond to pay for an extension of the Oasis pipeline to bring imported water to about 40 farmers and others in the irrigation district, who would pay the costs back over 30 years. A small rate increase could be imposed as well. The 17-mile pipeline and three pump stations would provide Colorado River water to mostly longtime farmers in the valley who already obtain much of their water from the river via the All-American Canal, but get some from wells.
California’s new governor looked at the rainfall and saw millions of dollars in uncollected water taxes going right down the drain. In one of his first moves as chief executive, Newsom declared that he wants to tax the state’s drinking water, in order to give poor people access to safe and affordable water. I guess this is his idea of trickle-down economics.
A day after proposing a tax on drinking water, Gov. Gavin Newsom took a “surprise” road trip to meet with Stanislaus County residents in a community known for having unsafe wells. Newsom and his cabinet made their first stop at the Monterey Park Tract in Ceres, where he held a roundtable discussion with people who for years had to use bottled water for drinking and cooking because their community’s two wells were long-contaminated with nitrates and arsenic.
The U.S. Interior Department is facing three lawsuits filed by three environmental groups who allege its plans for the 200,000-acre Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex along the Oregon-California border violates several federal laws. A fourth complaint from six farms and agricultural groups alleges the agency has unlawfully exceeded its authority by restricting leases of refuge land for agricultural purposes.
At the end of the last century, the Sierra Nevada captured an average of 8.76 million acre-feet of water critical to the nation’s largest food-producing region. By mid-century, a new study projects, the average will fall to 4 million acre-feet; and by century’s end, 1.81 million acre-feet.
The Merced Irrigation District board gave direction Wednesday to take legal action challenging the state’s Bay-Delta water quality control plan, which is strongly opposed by communities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
The Wonderful Co., a major producer of packaged goods known for its pistachios and POM beverages, announced Wednesday that it will increase its minimum pay to $15 an hour for all of its California workers starting Jan. 1. … The company has a controversial presence in California. Multiple national outlets, including Forbes, Mother Jones and the California Sunday, have published stories in recent years chronicling Wonderful’s massive water usage in otherwise bone-dry Central California.
Southern Californians could lose billions of gallons of water a year to Central Valley farmers under a deal Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has struck with water officials working for President Donald Trump. There’s no guarantee the agreement with Trump will accomplish what Brown’s team is seeking: a lasting compromise on environmental regulations that could stave off significant water shortfalls for farms and cities across California.
Officials said a water reservoir at Adam Bros. Farms in Santa Barbara County tested positive for the bacterial strain and the owners are cooperating with U.S. officials. Officials from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not determined how the water reservoir — which is used to irrigate lettuce — became contaminated.
California agriculture interests will find the farm bill Congress passed this week largely means more of the same. … The farm bill helps agricultural producers — whose business interests can often run contrary to environmental well-being — protect the environment, providing money so they don’t have to pay more out of pocket in order to be environmentally conscious.
As all eyes turn to the State Water Resources Control Board on Wednesday, the board won’t have complete settlement agreements with Modesto-area irrigation districts to consider at a crucial meeting. At most, the districts and negotiators with the state Natural Resources Agency will have the basic framework of an agreement that’s an alternative to a state plan for river flows that is fiercely opposed by water users and local agencies in Stanislaus County.
The Trump administration laid out plans Tuesday to roll back Obama-era rules protecting isolated streams and wetlands from industrial pollution, a move that conservation groups said could harm creeks and impact drinking water in the Bay Area and throughout California. The move by the Environmental Protection Agency to roll back the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule, known as WOTUS, was hailed by farmers and industry, which have long sought to rewrite the rules.
This 2-day, 1-night tour offers participants the opportunity to learn about water issues affecting California’s scenic Central Coast and efforts to solve some of the challenges of a region struggling to be sustainable with limited local supplies.
Palm Desert resident Randy Roberts filed a class-action lawsuit against the Coachella Valley Water District on Dec. 3, claiming the cash-rich agency is illegally taxing non-agricultural homeowners and businesses and has diverted more than $60 million to fund projects that often benefit large farmers. … Roberts, a longtime critic of the water district, charges it has violated state voter-approved laws, including Prop. 13 and Prop. 218, and the constitution.
Merced County sweet potato farmer Stan Silva hadn’t even heard the word “nutria” until a few months ago. He’s still never seen one, but he’s worried about the damage these 20-pound rodents with big orange buck teeth could do in California if they’re not eradicated. “It would be devastating,” Silva says. “They can basically ruin the ag industry here — they get in your fields, burrow into your canal ways, your waterways.” They can also tear up crops and levees, making the state’s water infrastructure more vulnerable.
A fierce local battle over water rights unfolding in a small Southern California courtroom Wednesday could threaten federal plans to replenish rapidly dwindling Colorado River water supplies. A third-generation farmer is seeking an injunction to block the Imperial Irrigation District from signing on to the seven-state compact. The hearing comes a day-and-a-half after the longtime general manager for the district, Kevin Kelley, announced he will retire at year’s end, though he could stay on as a consultant.
After touring the devastation of the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif. on Saturday, President Donald Trump announced that the federal government would provide an additional $500 million in funding to the 2018 farm bill for forest management to help mitigate future fires.
This tour ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.
Those who depend on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers for agriculture and drinking water may have received a reprieve Tuesday night. The State Water Resources Control Board was set to adopt a proposal to double the amount of water allowed to flow unimpeded down the rivers and out to the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta on Wednesday.
When county officials from California flew across the country last month to hear President Trump speak at the White House, they got an earful from the commander in chief. Trump slammed the Golden State, which has suffered through more than five years of severe drought that ended only last year, for sending its water out to sea rather than using it to nourish crops. … The latest water struggle involves the California State Water Resources Control Board, which is set to decide whether to allow more water to flow through the San Joaquin River and its tributaries.
Most signs point to the State Water Board approving a much-disputed river flow plan next week that will mean less water for farms and cities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. The board, also known as the State Water Resources Control Board, is set to vote Wednesday to require irrigation districts to leave more water in the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers in an effort to restore salmon.
Jake Wenger grows walnuts on land where early settlers arrived in search of gold and instead found rich soil. His orchards just west of Modesto stretch 700 acres and supply a nut company that has remained in his family for four generations. Like other farmers in this congressional district at the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley, Wenger, 34, said he fears his livelihood is under siege by a state plan to reduce the waters diverted from Northern California rivers for irrigation.
It didn’t take long for the press releases to fly after President Donald Trump signed his recent memo — surrounded by GOP members of Congress — “promoting the reliable supply and delivery of water in the West.” Except for a few minor changes, most of the press releases issued by those congressmen said the same thing – that “environmental extremists and overzealous bureaucrats” have created a water crisis in California that has wreaked havoc in Central Valley farming communities.
The last several years, about 20 tule elk have taken up residence on Nunes’ historic “A Ranch,” one of a handful of private dairy farms and cattle ranches that sit inside the federally-owned Point Reyes National Seashore.
It is the fall harvest here in this fertile stretch of oaks and hills that produces some of the country’s best wine. This season, though, workers also are plucking the sticky, fragrant flowers of a new crop. Marijuana is emerging among the vineyards, not as a rival to the valley’s grapes but as a high-value commodity that could help reinvigorate a fading agricultural tradition along the state’s Central Coast.
Explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as we learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.
All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants will get an on-site update of Oroville Dam spillway repairs.
The Oakdale Irrigation District has completed a $15 million tunnel that bypasses a section of canal at risk of rock slides. The 5,949-foot tunnel a few miles east of Knights Ferry is the 10th that OID has built since it formed in 1909 to tap the Stanislaus River. One machine bored from the east and one from the west after the project launched in September 2017, with a break for the 2018 irrigation season.
He is among more than 80 farmers now engaged in a state-funded program aimed at increasing carbon concentrations in California’s soil. Part of the state’s overarching goal of curbing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change, the California Healthy Soils Initiative took effect a year ago, when the state’s cap-and-trade program made $7.5 million available in small grants to farmers like Poncia. This year, the Healthy Soils Program, one component of the initiative, is receiving about $15 million.
Runoff from farms and feedlots has badly polluted Iowa’s waterways, more than half of which do not meet federal quality standards. Now, an unlikely coalition is calling for stricter controls to clean up the drinking water sources for millions of the state’s residents.
Stanislaus County will ask the state Supreme Court for a ruling on whether environmental review is a necessary step for a new water well. In August, a state appeals court overturned the Stanislaus Superior Court’s decision in the Protecting Our Water lawsuit, which sought an injunction against county well permit approvals.
For years, state boats have sprayed thousands of pounds of herbicides into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to kill invasive aquatic weeds. And, for years, California officials have insisted they closely monitor their chemical use to protect the ecologically fragile estuary and the drinking and irrigation water the Delta supplies to millions of Californians. A pending court case casts fresh doubt on those claims.
The lush plains east of Yosemite National Park offer a window into a bygone California — a place where sage grouse welcome the arrival of spring with theatrical mating rituals and cattle graze on verdant pastures. For nearly a century, these lands have been made green thanks to annual flooding by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, helping maintain cattle forage and keeping alive a culture of ranching in southern Mono County.
California farmers are laboring under a daunting edict: They must stop over-pumping groundwater from beneath their ranches. The saving grace is that state law gives them more than 20 years to do it. Now, however, a landmark court ruling could force many farmers to curb their groundwater consumption much sooner than that, landing like a bombshell in the contentious world of California water.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that a farming company has agreed to pay $5.3 million in civil penalties and costs to perform work to repair disturbed streams and wetlands on property near the Sacramento River. … “Like the Duarte settlement last year, today’s agreement serves the public interest in enforcement of the Clean Water Act and deterrence of future violations,” said Jeffrey H. Wood, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division.
Farmers in the Central Valley are broiling about California’s plan to increase flows in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems to help struggling salmon runs avoid extinction. But north of Sacramento, River Garden Farms is taking part in some extraordinary efforts to provide the embattled fish with refuge from predators and enough food to eat. And while there is no direct benefit to one farm’s voluntary actions, the belief is what’s good for the fish is good for the farmers.
Central Valley farmers and their elected leaders converged on Sacramento on Tuesday to accuse the state of engineering a water grab that puts the fate of fish above their fields and jeopardizes a thriving agricultural economy. The allegations came at a meeting of the powerful State Water Resources Control Board, which recently unveiled a far-reaching plan to shore up the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the West Coast’s largest estuary and a source of water for much of California.
The Trump administration is accelerating efforts to pump more of Northern California’s water to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, setting up a bruising conflict with state officials and environmentalists.
A lawsuit in California’s Imperial Valley could determine who controls the single largest share of Colorado River water in the West — a few hundred landowning farmers, or the elected five-member board of the Imperial Irrigation District.
Florida and Mexico are having a food fight over tomatoes and other fresh produce. Will farmers in California and Washington get caught in the crossfire? That’s one question that swirls around the final negotiations between the Trump administration and Mexico on a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement.
Land subsidence caused by groundwater pumping has been observed in the San Joaquin Valley for decades. Increased reliance on aquifers during the last decade resulted in subsidence rates in excess of a foot per year in some parts of the region.
While subsidence was minimal in 2017 due to one of the wettest years on record, any return to dry conditions would likely set the stage for subsidence to resume as the region relies more heavily on groundwater than surface water.
Alice Peters Auditorium
Fresno, CA 93740
A new program in California aimed at tracking agricultural water consumption is off to a bumpy start, highlighting the challenges of monitoring an industry that has historically enjoyed limited oversight.
More than two decades after Los Angeles was forced to cut water diversions to protect California’s natural resources, the state is poised to impose similar restrictions on San Francisco and some of the Central Valley’s oldest irrigation districts. The proposal represents a dramatic new front in one of California’s most enduring water fights: the battle over the pastoral delta that is part of the West Coast’s largest estuary and also an important source of water for much of the state.
When Roberta Jaffe and her husband planted their small vineyard, one factor trumped all others: groundwater. Knowing that this isolated valley in south-central California relies on a depleted aquifer, the couple “dry farmed” their Condor’s Hope Ranch, using 5 percent or less of the water required by a conventional vineyard. … So Jaffe was alarmed when Harvard University’s endowment fund installed an 850-acre conventional vineyard just down the road in 2014 — and drilled 14 wells.
For decades, farmworkers have stooped down to pick ripe cantaloupes off vines along the ground. Now, in an agricultural community near the California-Arizona border, a harvesting machine affectionately known as ‘The Melonator’ is beginning to do this work. … This is the second season that melon farmer Bart Fisher has used the machine.
The bottom is falling out of America’s most productive farmland. Literally. Swaths of the San Joaquin Valley have sunk 28 feet — nearly three stories — since the 1920s, and some areas have dropped almost 3 feet in the past two years. Blame it on farmers’ relentless groundwater pumping.
Imposing new regulations on an existing industry comes with challenges, and in Humboldt, environmental concerns are among them. Earlier this month, the environmental nonprofit Friends of the Eel River, which works to protect fisheries and watersheds in the region, filed a lawsuit against Humboldt County’s Board of Supervisors.
David Phippen’s almond orchards in Manteca are a few months away from harvest, the nuts still green on the trees. That gives him some breathing room before China’s tariffs on almonds — California’s largest agricultural export — and other crops really bite.
In California’s agricultural heartland, the San Joaquin Valley, excessive pumping of groundwater has resulted in subsidence, damaging crucial infrastructure, including roads, bridges and water conveyance.
The [Klamath] water users association on Wednesday filed a motion in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of San Francisco, asking that the Klamath Tribes’ case be dismissed in San Francisco’s court, and that the case be heard in federal court located closer to Upper Klamath Lake, where the case originates.
As more than a million Americans face losing food stamps under President Trump’s vision for reauthorizing the farm bill, his vow to wean families off dependence doesn’t apply to thousands of others who have been relying much of their adult lives on payments from the government’s sprawling agriculture program.
Water orders have been trickling in to the [Klamath Irrigation] district since irrigation water delivery officially began Friday, and calls are anticipated to ramp up as the water does, with ditch-riders like [Mitchell] Brown there to deliver the water.
Amid neat rows of orchards, on cattle ranches and dairy farms across the southern territory of California’s San Joaquin Valley, the churn of daily life offers few hints of an imminent political spectacle. This is another California, where conservative values are often taken for granted, and where the tide of liberal “resistance” runs as dry as its unirrigated dirt.
Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office announced late Wednesday afternoon that up to 3,500 acre feet is available for delivery to Klamath Project irrigators starting today and running through May 31 before deliveries start on June 1.
The boat ramps at Copco and Iron Gate reservoirs are temporarily closed through June, and possibly later, due to a draw-down of water requested for use by Bureau of Reclamation for Klamath Project irrigators. … Reclamation will use the water to keep elevations up to standard at Upper Klamath Lake and to support water deliveries to Klamath Project irrigators to cover a shortfall until water deliveries to the Klamath Project take place in June.
We traveled deep into California’s water hub and traverse the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. The tour made its way to San Francisco Bay, and included a ferry ride.
Amid all the excitement around marijuana legalization in America, another newly legal crop has received comparatively little attention: hemp. And yet hemp may prove to be even more transformative, especially in the West’s arid landscapes. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that is not psychoactive.
This spring in California several orchards around Solano and nearby counties sported a new look: lush carpets of mixed grasses growing as tall as 3ft beneath the trees’ bare branches. By summer the scene will change as farmers grow and harvest their nut crops, but the work of the grasses will continue unseen. Cover cropping, an agricultural technique as old as dirt, is taking root in California.
The final stretch of the McCloud River before it empties into the state’s largest reservoir is a place of raw beauty. … This part of the McCloud is off limits to almost everyone except a few Native Americans and some well-heeled fly fishermen. Its gatekeeper is an unlikely one, an organization that also happens to be a hugely controversial player in California water politics.
Local tribes and environmental groups declared victory Tuesday after a federal judge shot down a bid by Klamath Basin farmers and water districts to block dam releases meant to prevent fish disease outbreaks. Basin irrigators argued the rain and snow fall in 2017 reduced the chance of fish disease outbreaks this year, but said drought conditions in the basin this year could cause significant economic impacts to their region if water deliveries are delayed by the dam releases.
Many Americans know the name Kesterson as the California site where thousands of birds and fish were discovered with gruesome deformities in 1983, a result of exposure to selenium-poisoned farm runoff. Thirty-five years later, it is one of the oldest unresolved water problems in the state.
According to a new report in the journal PLOS One, we Americans wasted just over 25% of our food between 2007 and 2014. … Each year, just short of 4.2 trillion gallons of water were used to produce all this uneaten food. That includes nearly 1.3 trillion gallons of water to grow uneaten fruits and 1 trillion gallons of water to grow uneaten vegetables.
In 2007, at Jeff Creque’s behest, John Wick got in touch with Whendee Silver, an ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Letting cows graze on his property had certainly made the land look healthier, he told Silver. But he and Creque wanted to know: Had it put carbon in the ground? And if so, was it possible to measure how much?
We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.
Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Every five years, a bipartisan farm bill is passed by Congress that impacts people nationwide and right here at home. On Thursday, a draft of the legislation was released by the House Agriculture Committee. While the bill is welcomed by many, some called it a betrayal to rural families.
A federal judge heard arguments from attorneys representing Klamath Basin tribes, irrigators and government agencies on Wednesday in a case that is challenging the need for dam water releases meant to protect threatened fish species on the Klamath River from deadly parasitic outbreaks like those that occurred in 2014 and 2015.
The 2 p.m. court hearing on Wednesday at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco will be overseen by William Orrick. Orrick’s ruling will potentially decide factors leading to a start date — or not — for [Klamath] Basin irrigators, in a lawsuit between Bureau of Reclamation vs. Yurok and Hoopa Tribes.
In an attempt to meet the needs of Klamath Basin irrigators and endangered fish species in the basin in a time of drought, a federal agency is proposing to reduce the amount of dam water releases to the Klamath River that are meant to protect threatened Coho salmon from deadly parasite outbreaks like those that occurred in 2014 and 2015.
Last year, farmers who lead the irrigation district in Blythe sued the biggest urban water district in the country to challenge what they called a “water grab.” Now the Palo Verde Irrigation District has dropped that lawsuit, looking to smooth the way toward a possible settlement with the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
We ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.
Local tribes’ say critically important dam water releases meant to protect threatened salmon on the Klamath River from deadly parasitic disease outbreaks are being contested by irrigators and water districts in the Klamath Basin as they face drought conditions.
Look out, cowboy. Climate change campaigners are coming for your burger business. So are mushroom growers, Silicon Valley investors and the billionaire Bill Gates. … But the cattle industry is not going down without a fight.
A group of Klamath Basin water users Wednesday filed a motion in federal court in San Francisco pushing for at least a delay in the court-ordered injunction to keep 50,000 acre feet held in reserve in Upper Klamath Lake. The water is to be used to flush out the Klamath River in the spring to mitigate the impact of disease on coho salmon.
Over the past decade, California farmers have been seeing symptoms of climate change in their fields and orchards: less winter chill, crops blooming earlier, more heat waves and years of drought when the state baked in record temperatures. Scientists say California agriculture will face much bigger and more severe impacts due to climate change in the coming decades.
Thousands of water-right holders who were told to cease diversions during the last drought were deprived of due process, a judge found Wednesday, raising questions about how the state will handle future shortages. … At the center of the legal dispute was the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District near Tracy.
The mood was calm but somber Tuesday afternoon as Klamath Project irrigators gathered to learn more about the impact of drought conditions in the Klamath Basin from Oregon Water Resources Department and Klamath Water Users Association staff at the Klamath County Fairgrounds.
With the threat of another drought looming, west San Joaquin Valley farmers received some dismal news Tuesday about this year’s water allocation. The initial allocation from the Central Valley Project is 20 percent, the U.S Bureau of Reclamation announced on Tuesday.
“You might already know this …,” Central Valley farmer Sarah Woolf offered politely, before launching on a primer on California’s convoluted water system. … It was the second day of [U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny] Perdue’s recent whistle-stop educational tour of California’s $45-billion agriculture industry, and Perdue, a veterinarian and former two-term governor of Georgia, got an earful.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Tuesday that most farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta who get water from the federal Central Valley Project will receive just 20 percent of their requested allocation this year. … The State Water Project has set an initial allocation of 20 percent for all of its farm and municipal customers.
Irrigation season was delayed in 2017 as storm after storm kept farm and garden soil moist. Fast-forward to 2018, which has started out very dry and brought calls to fill the canals early. So are we back to serious drought in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, which endured one from 2012 to 2016?
Temperatures in most rural areas of the San Joaquin Valley, the heart of the state’s agricultural sector, are expected to fall to the mid-20s Tuesday morning. The below-freezing weather could kill blooms on almond and cherry trees, which appeared earlier than usual because of the unseasonably warm weather this month.
Members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are starting to shape the 2018 farm bill – a comprehensive food and agriculture bill passed about every five years. Most observers associate the farm bill with food policy, but its conservation section is the single largest source of funding for soil, water and wildlife conservation on private land in the United States.
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts said President Donald Trump made a commitment to him in the Oval Office last year not to cut crop insurance, a key program for farmers. Trump’s budget proposal cuts the program anyway. … Overall, Trump’s budget slashes the budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture by $3.7 billion, a 16 percent decrease.
A drought year similar to 2015’s dry conditions are anticipated by the Klamath Irrigation District, and without the financial resources available in 2015, as well as at least a week delay in water delivery to Klamath Project irrigators in April, according to Ty Kliewer, board president, on Friday.
California is once again suing the Trump Administration, joining New York and eight other states in a case about water. The states filed the lawsuit Tuesday just hours after federal agencies announced a new delay in the federal Clean Water Rule.
From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Bureau of Land Management oversees some of the nation’s most prized natural resources: vast expanses of public lands rich in oil, gas, coal, grazing for livestock, habitat for wildlife, hunting ranges, fishing streams and hiking trails.
In the United States, the largest single source of public conservation funding comes from an unexpected piece of legislation: the farm bill. Although the bulk of the farm bill focuses on commodity subsidies and nutrition assistance, the most recent version allocated more than $5 billion in annual funding for various conservation programs. The farm bill is also a venue to set policy and pilot new programs that grow conservation on working lands in order to balance production of crops, timber, and livestock with environmental quality.
I’m [Mark Arax] going to Kern County, just shy of the mountains, to figure out how the biggest farmers in America, led by the biggest of them all, are not only keeping alive their orchards and vineyards during drought but adding more almonds (79,000 acres), more pistachios (73,000 acres), more grapes (35,000 acres), and more mandarins (13,000 acres). Even as the supplies of federal and state water have dropped to near zero, agriculture in Kern keeps chugging along, growing more intensive.
Lani Estill’s family ranches on thousands of acres in Modoc County on the border of Nevada and California. Her operation, Bare Ranch, sits in a place called Surprise Valley. It’s a beautiful almost forgotten place “Where the West still lives” — that’s the county’s motto.
The drought could be crippling but the wine will be good. That is the happy conclusion of a study published today in the journal, Science. … That means farmers may not need to water their vineyards as much as previously thought during a dry spell.
Think of California’s smog problem and you probably think of tailpipes and smokestacks. A startling new study led by UC Davis, however, says the fertilizer in farm soils is a major contributor to smog in California.
California, alone, produces more than a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. The California Farm Bureau Federation notes that Canada is the second largest export destination for the state’s agricultural products, while Mexico is fifth.
The Eel River was once home to one of the largest salmon populations on the West Coast. But for nearly a century, a large share of its flow has been diverted for hydroelectric power and irrigation, helping build Northern California into a world powerhouse of winemaking. … So it should come as no surprise that the prospect of ending those water diversions is stirring concern across the region.
Nothing sharpens the political divide in California like a fight over water. Just before New Year’s, the U.S. Bureau of Administration announced it would try to “maximize water deliveries” to the agricultural districts that belong to the federal government’s Central Valley Project.
The project is called the Fish Food on Floodplain Farm Fields Project. It’s part of a greater effort to restore threatened fish species — the Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program. The project comes at a key time: A recent UC Davis study suggests that winter run chinook salmon could go extinct if efforts to recover the species aren’t taken up.
A meeting in Chico has been scheduled for Thursday to take input on a Trump Administration plan to maximize water deliveries from the federal Central Valley Project. The project, which dates to the 1930s, consists of 18 dams and reservoirs and 500 miles of canals that primarily deliver water to farms and cities in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys.
Agricultural abundance is a pillar of the California dream. In 2016 the state turned out more than US$45 billion worth of meat, milk and crops. Long before nutritionists agreed that fresh fruits and vegetables should be the center of American diets, California farmers had planted much of their land in these products, and today they produce half of the nation’s fruits, vegetables and nuts.
In a quiet agricultural community in Fresno County things have been sinking for a long time. California’s Central Valley subsidence problem was discovered decades ago, right around El Nido. Now, this town is more famous for its elevation than its population because agriculture’s demand for water here has sent pumps ever deeper into the ground, causing the valley floor to sink by dozens of feet.
In the final days of 2017, President Donald Trump’s administration announced it would consider sending as much water as possible from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farmers and cities to the south. The notice comes as a follow-up to a speech Trump made in Fresno during his presidential campaign, when he condemned the downstream flow of river water into the ocean as “insane.”
President Trump delivered an economic victory lap during a speech to farmers on Monday in which he vastly overstated the size of the tax cuts passed by Congress late last year and played up a rollback of regulations on American businesses. … The president drew thunderous applause by celebrating the reversal of a regulation known as the Waters of the United States, which many rural landowners had opposed.
Farmers are looking for a sign from President Donald Trump that their issues mean as much to him as their votes do. Trump is scheduled to speak at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual conference in Nashville on Monday, the first sitting president to address the group in 26 years.
States throughout the West have rushed to legalize marijuana over the last four years. The biggest by far is California, where recreational use of the drug became legal on January 1. The states are clamoring for the tax revenue in these new markets, but they seem less concerned with how they may affect water resources.
At a state briefing on environmental rules that await growers entering California’s soon-to-be-legal marijuana trade, organic farmers Ulysses Anthony, Tracy Sullivan and Adam Mernit listened intently, eager to make their humble cannabis plot a model of sustainable agriculture in a notoriously destructive industry dominated by the black market. … Complying with water laws alone would mean daily record-keeping, permit applications, inspections and more, state officials said.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency on Monday said glyphosate, the primary ingredient in the weed killer Roundup and one of the most widely used herbicides in agriculture, likely does not cause cancer.
Already short of funding, Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels project is being challenged in court by a bloc of San Joaquin Valley farmers insisting they shouldn’t be forced to help foot the $17.1 billion price tag. The valley farmers, located mainly in Kern and Kings counties, voiced their objections in a Sacramento court filing opposing the Brown administration’s plan to issue bonds to pay for the tunnels.
Groundwater overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley – producer of half the state’s agricultural output – has averaged roughly 1.8 million acre-feet annually since the mid-1980s. Even before the start of the most recent drought in 2011, a few San Joaquin farmers recognized the dire need for sustainable water management and started individually pioneering a groundwater recharge practice that has since gained statewide traction.
This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour.
Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as participants learned about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.
All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants got an on-site update of repair efforts on the Oroville Dam spillway.
Participants of this tour snaked along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.
The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.
This tour travels deep into California’s water hub and traverses the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. The tour will make its way to San Francisco Bay and includes a ferry ride.
We ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.
A team of researchers and Marysville rice farmers initiated a study this week in Yuba County to see if introducing fish to a flooded rice field could both reduce methane emissions and allow for a new reliable protein source.
There will be no cannabis cappuccinos or drone deliveries in California under the new pot rules state officials released Thursday that regulate everything from who can legally sell and deliver marijuana to how it must be packaged and transported.
When 50,000 acre-feet of water went gushing out of the Sacramento River last month, it fast became a test of California’s ability to protect its environmental policies from an increasingly hostile Trump administration. The episode proved humbling.
Pungent, sometimes toxic blobs are fouling waterways from the Great Lakes to Chesapeake Bay, from the Snake River in Idaho to New York’s Finger Lakes and reservoirs in California’s Central Valley. … California last year reported toxic blooms in more than 40 lakes and waterways, the most in state history.
This year, the annual bill governing national defense policy almost settled a three-decades-old conflict in California over toxic water draining from farm fields. Lawmakers finished resolving the differences between the House and Senate versions of the military bill, legislation that addresses troop numbers and overseas operations, on Wednesday.
One of the nation’s most successful partnerships between farm and urban water agencies has lately run into serious turbulence, potentially threatening an important Colorado River water-sharing deal. Twelve years ago, the Palo Verde Irrigation District in Blythe, California, signed an agreement with the powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
California Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers asked the U.S. government Friday for $7.4 billion to help rebuild after a cluster of fires tore through the heart of wine country, killing more than 40 people and leaving thousands without housing.
Droughts. Soaking winters. Heat waves. Wildfires. The last several years have whipsawed West Coast winemakers such as David Graves, who produces that oh-so-delicate of varietals, pinot noir. It is also prompting vintners to ponder whether climate change — once seen as distant concern — is already visiting their vineyards.
Over the past 12 years, the country’s biggest urban water agency has paid farmers about $190 million not to grow crops on thousands of acres near the Colorado River in the Palo Verde Valley. The water has gone to Los Angeles and other cities across Southern California, and in return, the farmers who’ve left some of their lands unplanted have been able to count on additional income.
With the marijuana legalization date of Jan. 1, 2018 rapidly approaching in California, the state is getting serious about regulations. On Tuesday, the State Water Board adopted new environmental rules for cannabis cultivation to protect water flows and water quality in rivers and streams.
A bloc of San Joaquin farmers tentatively endorsed the Delta tunnels project Thursday, becoming the first significant agricultural group to support the struggling plan. But the level of support from members of the Kern County Water Agency, which serves much of the $7 billion-a-year farm economy at the southern end of the valley, was less than wholehearted.
The owners of Don Pedro Reservoir made their pitch Tuesday for how it can serve both people and Tuolumne River fish over the next half-century. The boards of the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts each voted 5-0 at separate meetings to submit their final application for a new federal license for the project.
As massive fires continued to burn in the epicenter of the U.S. wine industry Monday, Napa and Sonoma vintners braced to confront the long-term consequences of a disastrous event that could affect the supply of grapes, the quality of the region’s wines and the local tourism industries for years to come.
Planned hiring into 2018 covers a range of state agencies: Fifty people are bound for the Public Health Department, 65 are slated to join the Water Resources Control Board … Environmental scientists will be responsible for developing standards for pot grows near streams, to make sure fertilizer or pesticides do not taint the water or harm fish.
Beside the winding curves of the Colorado River, the Palo Verde Valley spreads out in a lush plain in the middle of the desert, a farming oasis filled with canals and fields of hay. For 12 years, the valley’s farmers have been participating in a program that pays them to leave some of their lands unplanted and fallow, helping to slake the thirst of Los Angeles and cities across Southern California.
California consumers will soon have two choices in cannabis: clean, legal and pricey — or dirty, illicit and cheap. Think Whole Foods vs. El Chapo. The big difference will be the amount of pesticides in your weed.