Ag Today March 4, 2019

Voluntary agreements shared with State Water Board. Will they replace disputed flow plan? [Modesto Bee]

The top state agencies that manage water and wildlife resources in California submitted a package of voluntary agreements with water districts to the State Water Resources Control Board on Friday, as an alternative to controversial flow requirements approved in December for the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers. The agreements, hammered out in the waning hours of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration and favored by Gov. Gavin Newsom, combine increased river flows with a larger set of tools for restoring salmon in rivers that feed into the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta….Representatives of more than 40 groups, including water users, conservation groups and state and federal agencies, signed onto the package of agreements and committed to a further analysis of the measures to achieve environmental goals in the delta.


Breaking impasse, feds will include Salton Sea in seven-state drought plan, IID says [Palm Springs Desert Sun]

There may be hope for finalizing a sweeping Colorado River drought contingency plan after all. Imperial Irrigation District officials announced at a special board meeting late Friday that the federal Bureau of Reclamation has agreed to their condition that the drought package include restoration of the Salton Sea. They said federal officials will write a strong letter of support backing IID’s requests for $200 million in Farm Bill funding for wetlands projects around the shrinking sea, which is California’s largest inland water body….The board also voted unanimously to oppose a supposed “white knight” offer by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s general manager, Jeffrey Kightlinger, to provide IID’s portion of water to be kept in Lake Mead if the agency doesn’t sign on to the drought plan.


Opinion: California should stop thinking about more dams. The state is brimming with them [Los Angeles Times]

Think California should build a lot more dams to catch these deluges? Forget it….There’s one dam being planned north of Sacramento in Colusa County that makes sense: Sites. There are also some dam expansion projects that could work. But California is already dammed to the brim….Sites should be built. And the height of at least one dam — Los Vaqueros in Contra Costa County — should be raised and will be. But the future for California water storage is underground.


Editorial: Saving for a (non) rainy day [Stockton Record]

…Clearly, there must be better solutions. Three approaches leap to mind: storage, conservation and desalination….Not one of these three suggested solutions represents a magic bullet. All are expensive. All have environmental costs. All require hard choices and painful sacrifices. But as our reservoirs fill and water managers dump the inflow to make room for the spring snow melt, we have to ask if we’re doing all we can to make sure there is enough water in California to go around.


In Central Valley towns, California’s bullet train isn’t an idea: ‘It’s people’s lives’ [Los Angeles Times]

…The recent debate surrounding California’s transit future has reverberated statewide. But here in the Central Valley, the upheaval — like the bullet train itself — is real. Houses have been boarded up, businesses moved, vineyards torn out, a highway realigned. Giant concrete structures rise from orchards waiting to hold up tracks that now seem further from existence….Fairmead, the community where Williams lives, is the likely place that will face the most immediate uncertainties. It is in the “Y,” the planned fork from which some trains were to hurtle south toward Los Angeles or north to Merced, and others were to veer west to the Bay Area.


SMUD cancels controversial power line project north of Sacramento [Sacramento Bee]

SMUD on Friday canceled a controversial $345 million power line project north of Sacramento that had drawn opposition from farmers. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District announced that it had scrapped the Colusa-Sutter Transmission Line Project, saying the project had grown too expensive….Farm groups in the Sacramento Valley rose up in opposition, with farmers saying the new power lines and transmission towers would have disrupted their operations and disturbed wildlife. In some cases they would have had to surrender farmland to the project.