The San Joaquin River, which helps drain California’s Central Valley, has been negatively impacted by construction of dams, inadequate streamflows and poor water quality. Efforts are now underway to restore the river and continue providing agricultural lands with vital irrigation, among other water demands.
After an 18-year lawsuit to restore water flows to a 60-mile dry stretch of river and to boost the dwindling salmon populations, the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement is underway. Water releases are now used to restore the San Joaquin River and to provide habitat for naturally-reproducing populations of self-sustaining Chinook salmon and other fish in the San Joaquin River. Long-term efforts also include measures to reduce or avoid adverse water supply impacts from the restoration flows.
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.
If farmers cannot prove that they are replenishing the amount of groundwater as they are taking out, they are not going to be allowed to use the groundwater pumps. … Temperance Flat would provide additional storage opportunities—up to an additional 1.2 million acre-feet—and will allow farmers to have carryover water from year to year. This will carry the farmers through the dry years, and it will give the allowance to stabilize the groundwater condition.
A bill moving through the state legislature looks to make repairs and enhancements to the Friant-Kern Canal. Senate Bill 559 was authored by Senator Melissa Hurtado, representing the 14th Senate District, and was co-authored by several other San Joaquin Valley lawmakers. The legislation recently advanced through the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water with a vote of 7 to 0.
Farmers, by trade, are experts in sustainability and by extension common sense. Growers along with 1.5 million Northern San Joaquin Valley residents could end up on the receiving end of an economic Armageddon perpetuated by the state Department of Water Resources on behalf of the threatened Chinook salmon.
Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona governor and secretary of the Interior, has been a thoughtful, provocative and sometimes forceful voice in some of the most high-profile water conflicts over the last 40 years, including groundwater management in Arizona and the reduction of California’s take of the Colorado River. In 2016, former California Gov. Jerry Brown named Babbitt as a special adviser to work on matters relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Delta tunnels plan.
When Babbitt speaks, people take notice, and he didn’t disappoint before a packed house at the annual Anne J. Schneider Lecture April 3 in Sacramento, offering thoughts on some of California’s thorniest water issues and proposing a Bay-Delta Compact, a kind of grand bargain to end persistent conflict surrounding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The legislation, which received bipartisan support, will invest $400 million from the State’s General Fund towards the Friant-Kern Canal, one of the Central Valley’s most critical water delivery facilities.
Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) ripped the State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday for arguing that the harm caused by the Bay-Delta Plan to the drinking water of disadvantaged communities is not “significant”. Gray’s comments came as his legislation, Assembly Bill 637, cleared the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee with bipartisan support.
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.
How can state and federal agencies help California’s largest agricultural region address its difficult water management problems? This was the theme of an event last week that brought together PPIC experts with top officials working on issues related to water, agriculture, and natural resources.
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.
Administered by the National Park Service (NPS), NHAs are defined by NPS as a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. They differ from national parks in several significant ways. Primarily, NPS does not take ownership of the land encompassed within an NHA and no land-use restrictions are placed upon landowners.
Political leaders from the valley are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to closely scrutinize new water quality standards proposed for the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta. … “The State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal to the EPA misses the mark,” said Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, who joined almost a dozen congressmen, including conservatives Kevin McCarthy and Tom McClintock, in sending a letter to the EPA.
The Amended Plan … has touched off a series of lawsuits due to its controversial unimpaired flow requirements for the Lower San Joaquin River and its tributaries … The Federal Government’s lawsuits challenge the Amended Plan by asserting that it fails to comply with CEQA and congressional mandates that control the operation of the New Melones Dam, which is part of the federally run Central Valley Project (CVP).
When the State Water Resources Control Board voted in December to adopt the Bay-Delta Plan, its members ignored the direction of former Governor Brown and current Governor Newsom to pursue voluntary agreements with our irrigation districts. Many saw this as an act of defiance by former Chair Felicia Marcus, the executive director, and many of the activist staff.
Now that the federal government has filed its own lawsuits against an unimpaired-flows plan for San Joaquin River tributaries, farmers and other parties to the lawsuits wait to learn where they will be heard–and prepare for a lengthy court battle. California Farm Bureau Federation … filed its own lawsuit against the unimpaired-flows plan in February…
Turning the tables on California, the Trump administration sued Thursday to block the state’s ambitious plan to reallocate billions of gallons of river water to salmon and other struggling fish species. … The State Water Resources Control Board voted in December to reallocate the flows of the San Joaquin River and its tributaries. The move is designed to help steelhead and salmon by taking water from San Joaquin Valley farmers and a handful of cities.
Rate increases are being proposed in part to help pay for improvements to the Regional Wastewater Control Facility, which is set to go through the first phase of a modification project aimed at extending the life of existing amenities at the plant. The modification project will also improve working conditions for employees, and bring the site into compliance with national pollutant discharge standards.
Groundwater helped make Kern County the king of California agricultural production, with a $7 billion annual array of crops that help feed the nation. That success has come at a price, however, as decades of unchecked groundwater pumping in the county and elsewhere in California have left some aquifers severely depleted. Now, the county’s water managers have less than a year left to devise a plan that manages and protects groundwater for the long term yet ensures that Kern County’s economy can continue to thrive, even with less water.