Blog round-up: Why farming needs the new groundwater law, The nature and extent of agriculture should be an intentional choice, What the EPA’s Fracking and Drinking Water Study really says, and more …

Harvest Moon over Mono Lake by Pacheco
Harvest Moon over Mono Lake by Pacheco

Why farming needs the new groundwater law:  Sarge Green, Ellen Hanak, and David Zoldoske write, “A groundwater deficit is growing in key agricultural areas of California. The double-whammy of the extended drought and longer-term reductions in surface water deliveries for environmental needs has pushed many farmers into using ever-more groundwater, at rates that can’t be sustained. In average years, about a third of water used by California’s farms is groundwater—and much more during droughts like this one. In some basins (especially those in major farming regions in the southern San Joaquin Valley and the Central Coast), groundwater withdrawals have long exceeded the pace of replenishment, thus shrinking our most reliable supply for times of drought.  … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Why farming needs the new groundwater law

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On the Public Record with more on groundwater:  “The title gave me great hope, but this post about saving our precious groundwater didn’t go anywhere useful. … His conclusion is to explain long-term self-interest to people overdrafting groundwater? They already know. They don’t … care. If things don’t get better, either the neighbor’s pump or buying scarce water will send them out of business long before deep aquifer salinization is a problem. They are hoping that the drought will end and they’ll get surface water within a year. Either way, they plant. If the drought continues, the bank might as well foreclose on a newly planted orchard as on idled land. If the drought ends, that newly planted orchard will be valuable. ... ”  Read the full post at On the Public Record here:  More on groundwater.

Harsher drought impacts forecast for California agriculture: Richard Howitt, Duncan MacEwan, Josue Medellin-Azuara, Jay Lund and Daniel A. Sumner write, “The drought is expected to be worse for California’s agricultural economy this year because of reduced water availability, according to our preliminary estimates released today.  The study, summarized below, estimates farmers will have 2.7 million acre-feet less surface water than they would in a normal water year — about a 33 percent loss of water supply, on average. The impacts are concentrated mostly in the San Joaquin Valley and are not evenly distributed; individual farmers will face losses of zero to 100 percent. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Harsher drought impacts forecast for California agriculture

The nature and extent of agriculture should be an intentional choice: On the Public Record writes, “I have been somewhat baffled at Governor Brown’s reluctance to challenge agriculture during the drought. The crass explanation is that he has been bought by the Resnicks, but he isn’t running for anything again and I’d like to give him more credit than that. He may genuinely believe that whatever “the market” produces should determine what California ag should look like. Recently I have been wondering if Governor Brown’s picture of California agriculture is being distorted by his visits to Colusa. ... ”  Continue reading from On the Public Record here:  The nature and extent of agriculture should be an intentional choice

Drought killing farm jobs – even as they grow: Josué Medellín-Azuara, Richard Howitt, Duncan MacEwan, Daniel Sumner and Jay Lund write, “With all the news about the drought drying up farm jobs, it seems paradoxical that California agriculture actually came out a bit ahead on employment growth last year.  The industry gained a monthly average of more than 4,000 jobs in 2014, up 1 percent from 2013, according to the latest state Employment Development Department statistics.  How could this be? … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Drought killing farm jobs – even as they grow

An Open Letter on the California Water Fix – Part 5 Who Is Writing the Governor’s Material?: Robert Pyke writes, “California Governor and stand-up comedian, Jerry Brown, has recently been saying some entertaining things about the scheme to build twin tunnels under the Delta, now called the California Water Fix.  First he said “until you’ve put a million hours into it,” said Brown, estimating the amount of staff time devoted to the project, “shut up.” The Bee reports that his office later said that he made these remarks in jest, although I think that number is about right. It spans two administrations, eight years, and at last count, $236.8 million. But, I’m prepared to accept that he was just joking about the critics needing to shut up. What is not so much of a joke, however, is that all this time and money has gone down the drain due to inadequate management and direction. It is not clear whether the Governor understands that reality. … ”  Read more from Robert Pyke here:  An Open Letter on the California Water Fix – Part 5 Who Is Writing the Governor’s Material?

Water export pumps have run every single day during the drought: Restore the Delta writes, “It is incredible to us that despite the fact that the pumps for the Federal and State Water Projects have yet to be turned off one day during the drought, that water quality standards are being violated in the Delta each and every day this year, impacting Delta family farms, that we are perilously close to losing Delta smelt, and our iconic salmon fisheries, and that San Joaquin Valley farming representatives continue to push State and Federal representatives for a complete sacrifice of California’s fisheries, as well as water quality for their fellow farmers in the Delta,” said Restore the Delta executive director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. ... ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Water export pumps have run every single day during the drought

Is environmental activism speeding up extinctions?  Todd Fitchette writes, “Here’s a joke for you: “Agriculture has fared better than fish.” Wanna hear another one? “State and federal agencies have redirected water to human needs at the expense of Chinook salmon, Delta smelt and other endangered species.”  I can’t make this stuff up. I’m not that good.  These statements come from a June 4 story in the Sacramento Bee under the headline: “Environmentalists sue over California drought management plan.”  Apparently a number of environmental groups have their shorts knotted up over recent decisions by state and federal agencies and their management of stored water. … ”  Continue reading at the Western Farm Press here:  Is environmental activism speeding up extinctions

What the EPA’s Fracking and Drinking Water Study really says:  Gretchen Goldman writes, “Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited (and heavily scrutinized) report on drinking water impacts from hydraulic fracturing. The report has made headlines, but anyone following the science around fracking impacts shouldn’t be surprised by the results—that hydraulic fracturing has had adverse effects on drinking water sources in several cases, and that risk for future contamination of drinking water exists through several pathways.  Yet, yesterday’s headlines read very differently.  … ”  Read more from The Equation blog here:  What the EPA’s Fracking and Drinking Water Study really says

California court of appeal rules for double regulation of water:  Tony Francios writes:  “Today the California Court of Appeal issued an adverse ruling in Siskiyou County Farm Bureau v. California Department of Fish and Wildlife, in a decision that will likely subject all water rights in California to onerous and duplicative regulation. The case is about whether the owner of a water right which has already been approved by the State Water Resources Control Board, or even adjudicated by the state courts, must then seek the permission of the Department of Fish and Wildlife to exercise that right. ... ”  Read more from the Liberty Blog here:  California court of appeal rules for double regulation of water

Use this guide to California’s drought-friendliest crops to shut down food shamers of all persuasions:  “Nearly any time you have a conversation about California’s drought, someone will inevitably make a remark like “and that’s why you shouldn’t eat meat” or “almonds will be the death of us all” or ” I knew I was right to hate broccoli!” People love being told that food they dislike shouldn’t be eaten almost as much as they love hearing that what they’re eating is in the right, and the knowledge that 80% of California’s water goes towards agriculture has given nearly every food opponent and proponent new arguments to unfurl while everyone else is just trying to make conversation. ... ”  Continue reading at the SFIst here:  Use this guide to California’s drought-friendliest crops to shut down food shamers of all persuasions

Can California’s new desal rules produce a fountain of profits? California is in a deep drought. It’s been focusing on conservation, recently pushing homeowners and even farmers to use less water. But that can’t solve the drought, so the state just got more serious about finding additional sources of water. And new rules may be the linchpin to making it happen. … While saving water is clearly important, it only helps on the consumption side. California’s big problem is water supply. That’s why the state recently introduced new rules around seawater desalination. Essentially, California wants to start using more of the giant water bowl right next to it, but it wants to make sure it gets done responsibly. ... ”  Read more from the Motley Fool here:  Can California’s new desal rules produce a fountain of profits?

Water sale mirage:  Eric Caine writes, “Among the most sacred shibboleths of the water world’s power elite, none is more revered than the one that proclaims, “Water sales are wise and beneficial.” Of course, no member in good standing of water’s movers and shakers would ever refer to “water sales,” a vulgar and much too accurate description. The proper terminology is “water transfers.” As is often the case with euphemisms, the purpose is to conceal an unpleasant reality.  The implication of “water transfers” is that money has little or nothing to do with moving water from one place to another. Rather, the motivation is supposed to derive from the “wise and beneficial use” doctrine that undergirds much resource management policy. ... ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Water sale mirage

Water conservation: LA’s greatest resource: The drought has been a challenge not just in California but throughout the west. Each region has its own approach to tackling the problem and developing new water resources. In Southern California, we’re focused on water use efficiency to stretch our supplies, and we’ve been thinking that way for decades.  In 1970 the City of Los Angeles was using 600,000 acre feet of water. Today we’re using less than that amount, 587,000 acre feet, with 1.1 million more people living in LA.  Los Angeles has always seen water conservation as an essential resource, and the best resource is the one you don’t use. We’re improving our efficiency so an acre foot can serve three or more families. That’s the equivalent of developing a new water supply and the reason we’re delivering less water today to serve more people than we did 45 years ago.  ... ”  Read more from the Groundwater Act Blog here:  Water conservation: LA’s greatest resource

More water-saving turf removal?  Coming right up!  But let’s not forget our other water needs:  Johanna Dyer writes, “As just about everybody knows by now, California is in the midst of an historic drought.  As part of its water-conservation efforts, last week the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, commonly known as MWD, approved an additional $350 million in funding for its turf-removal program. MWD also set some limits on the program, designed to encourage increased participation from residential customers.  Angelenos have already been clamoring for more lawn removal, particularly after recent drought-related mandates and outreach by Governor Jerry Brown and Mayor Eric Garcetti. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  More water-saving turf removal? Coming right up! But let’s not forget our other water needs

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About the Blog Round-up: The Blog Round-up is a weekly journey through the wild and varied tapestry of blog commentary, incorporating the good, the bad, the ugly, and sometimes just plain bizarre viewpoints existing on the internet.  Viewpoints expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily my own; inclusion of items here does not imply my endorsement of their positions. Items are chosen to express a wide range of viewpoints, and are added at the editor’s discretion. While posts with obvious factual errors are excluded, please note that no attempt is made on my part to verify or fact check the information bloggers present, so caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

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