Ag Today Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Editorial: Water details become vital as drought worsens [Sacramento Bee]

In time of drought, when leaders tell us every drop of water counts, Californians ought to be able to count every drop. The concept seems so simple, but because the issue is water, it’s not. For the third year running, Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, is pushing legislation to provide public access to otherwise confidential reports about groundwater wells….But opponents of public access to the information include many heavyweights of California agriculture: the Western Growers Association, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the California League of Food Processors, the California Chamber of Commerce, and the Valley Ag Water Coalition, which represents many San Joaquin water delivery agencies. Reflexive opposition by farm groups is unfortunate. As urban water users face restrictions, if not rationing, they could turn on farmers whose crops use 80 percent of the water consumed by humans in California.
Monterey County groundwater plan draws criticism [Monterey Herald]
Expressing concern about the approach to complying with the state’s new groundwater sustainability mandate, Monterey County officials and agricultural industry representatives called for speeding up the process and including more public input. According to a report presented during Tuesday’s joint meeting of the Board of Supervisors and county water resources agency board of directors, the county is in the early stages of trying to create a groundwater sustainability agency for the Salinas Valley groundwater basin….The groundwater agency will have broad regulatory and enforcement powers over groundwater extraction and use in the basin….Monterey County Farm Bureau executive director Norm Groot cautioned the boards that the county’s draft sustainability “approach” document was just a list of projects without enough supporting information.
Deal on Stanislaus River fish could aid Lake Tulloch [Modesto Bee]
A tentative agreement on Stanislaus River flows could shore up irrigation supplies and keep Lake Tulloch from emptying this summer. The deal calls for regulators to relax the springtime flow requirements aimed at getting young salmon to the Pacific Ocean. The saved water could allow the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts to get through summer without draining Tulloch, an idea that had stirred protest from lakefront homeowners. Each district would get up to 225,000 acre-feet of water this year under the agreement. That’s well short of the 300,000 available in better times, but more than what many districts elsewhere will deliver in this fourth year of drought….The agreement projects that New Melones will hold just 115,000 acre-feet at the Sept. 30 end of the current irrigation season – just 5 percent of its capacity.
Opinion: Conserve water, but don’t panic yet [Ventura County Star]
Californians are starting to freak out about the drought….However, if Californians are indeed beginning to freak out about the drought, that is not a bad thing. It could inspire the most important short-term response to the drought, one that is largely beyond the power of state and local governments — a widespread ethic of water conservation….The challenge for governments and water managers is to come up with long-term solutions that allow water policy to adapt to the effects of climate change. If, as the modeling suggests, the snowpack is going to be reduced by 50 percent or more, management of existing storage systems must adapt and new storage must be designed to capture winter rainfall rather than spring runoff. The modeling also predicts the rainy season will become more condensed and storm events will become more intense. If that’s the case, it will become imperative that systems be designed to capture water that now runs off in floods and to allow exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to be maximized during brief periods of true surplus.
Questions raised over pesticide use near high school [KNBC TV, Los Angeles]
Questions are being raised about the safety of an Oxnard high school after a new report shows the surrounding agricultural land may be saturated with a potentially toxic pesticide. Rio Mesa High School’s campus is literally bordered by agriculture fields, with strawberries as far as the eye can see – part of Ventura County’s $3 billion farming industry….The county’s agriculture commissioner presented a report to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday about pesticides on the campus. He also faced some tough questions about one chemical in particular, called 1,3-Dichloropropene – also called 1-3-D. “Everybody jumps to the conclusion that, because it’s so much, it’s got to be ‘bad.’ And that is not accurate,” Henry Gonzalez told the board.
Environmental groups urge feds to consider beef’s cost in U.S. diet [San Francisco Chronicle]
Full page ads in the New York Times and Washington Post on Tuesday called on the federal government to advise Americans to cut some meat from their diets. The ads, sponsored by more than 100 health and environmental groups, come as U.S. policymakers evaluate evidence that meat, particularly beef, takes a toll on the environment, and as they consider adjusting the nation’s dietary guidelines accordingly. On Tuesday, policymakers held a public hearing in Bethesda, Md., to take input on how a revision of the federal food guidelines should read. The guidelines help shape school and military meals as well as the more consumer-oriented food pyramid, which was recently recast as a plate. At the heart of the dietary debate is an opinion by an advisory panel that people should eat less meat because of its destructive impact on the planet, a suggestion that the meat industry and its allies in Congress have taken to task.
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