Ag Today February 8, 2019

Californians with bad water ask for help while opposition mounts to Newsom’s proposed tax [Sacramento Bee]

Californians with unhealthy drinking water pleaded for help from lawmakers this week but opposition quickly developed to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to pay for system improvements with a new fee….Monning’s proposal included a 95 cent monthly tax on residential customers, along with other fees attached to fertilizer purchases and dairy and feedlot production….But some advocates aren’t convinced that a tax is the best way to address the state’s clean water crisis. “Why create a new tax when you have a huge budget surplus?” says Cindy Tuck, a deputy executive director at the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA).


How Democrats hope to protect California flood money if Trump declares a national emergency [McClatchy News Service]

With another potential government shutdown on the horizon, President Donald Trump remains coy about whether he’ll declare a national emergency to fund the border wall he promised during his 2016 campaign….Democrats in Congress, however, aren’t taking any chances. They have begun drafting legislation to shield project funding that the president may be tempted to target. California Rep. John Garamendi, for example, has written a bill that would restrict the president’s power to divert funding for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects — such as the ones underway to improve flood protection in the Sacramento region.


Forest Service skipped California wildfire prevention during shutdown, D.C. delegation demands account [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

U.S. Forest Service officials said December and January’s partial government shutdown caused the agency to miss wildfire prevention and mitigation work normally done each winter to reduce the severity of wildfires during peak season….In the San Bernardino National Forest, rangers missed opportune conditions for prevention work, which the agency calls “burn windows,” during the 35-day shutdown, forest spokesman Zach Berens said….Berens remains confident, he said, in the Forest Service’s ability to carry out necessary fire prevention work before the peak season.


Federal Register notice on DCP draws ire from IID [Imperial Valley Press]

A notice published recently in the Federal Register is not sitting well with Imperial Irrigation District. That notice, submitted by the Department of Interior through the Bureau of Reclamation and published on Feb. 1, calls recommendations from the governors of the seven Colorado River Basin state for protective actions the Department of Interior should take in the absence of a completed drought contingency plan….That comment, along Friday’s Federal Register notice, did not sit well with IID, particularly Director Jim Hanks, “IID has worked to be a good neighbor on the river,” he said Tuesday. “Yet a sustainable solution to declining flows cannot and will not be attained at the continuous and severe expense of the Imperial Valley and the Salton Sea, while other agencies intend to grow their supply off a shrinking stream.”


Farm Bureau files latest Water Board lawsuit over ‘water grab’ [KVML Radio, Sonora]

State water regulators under fire for approving what critics describe as a massive ‘water grab’ are dealing with over a half-dozen related lawsuits, including a new one from the farming industry. California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) officials share with Clarke Broadcasting that the bureau filed its suit late last week in Sacramento County Superior Court. CFBF Environmental Attorney Chris Scheuring says the move is unsurprising, given the size and magnitude of the Water Board’s action.


Wet winter greatly reduces drought conditions in California [Associated Press]

In a matter of weeks, a very wet winter has greatly reduced drought conditions that have plagued California. A series of storms has coated mountains with blankets of snow and unleashed drenching rains that have even greened up landscapes recently blackened by wildfires….The U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday that a large portion of the state including the Sierra Nevada, much of the Central Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area is free of any significant dryness. Heavy rain has also ended most of the moderate drought that stretched from the Central Coast to the southern tier of the state, leaving a lesser condition designated as abnormally dry, according to the monitor.