|American River and Sacramento River Confluence|
Way Too Little & Way Too Late
- Comrade Governor Jerry Brown signed a "so-called" $687 million drought-relief package in March. The bill will fund storm water recapturing, expanded use of recycled water, better management of groundwater storage and stronger water conservation measures.
- Translation - A lot of talk and no meaningful action. These are all PR stunt programs that might, maybe come on line 10 years from now. Maybe.
- I am still waiting for a string of desalination plants to be built along the coast and that new water dumped into the aqueduct system.
(Sacramento Bee) - California has ordered more than 2,600 water agencies and users in the Sacramento Valley to stop pumping water from streams, a drastic response to the ongoing drought that hasn’t occurred since 1977.
The curtailment notice was imposed by the State Water Resources Control Board late Wednesday. It affects 2,648 water agencies, farms, cities and other property owners with so-called “junior” water rights, or those issued by the state after 1914, in the Sacramento River and its tributaries. This includes the American, Feather and Yuba rivers as well as dozens of small streams.
Most of the affected water users are farmers and large irrigation districts. But they also include major urban water providers such as the city of Sacramento.
“There’s no question there are going to be some areas in the Sacramento Valley that are going to suffer without water this year,” said David Guy, president of the Northern California Water Association, which represents many Sacramento Valley property owners and irrigation districts, including some affected by the order.
The city of Sacramento imposed a 20 percent mandatory conservation order in January, and residents have been inching closer to reaching it in recent weeks, said city spokeswoman Jessica Hess. She said the city has cut its own water use in public buildings, parks and landscaping more than 50 percent.
|Farm Businesses Suffer|
Rice growing areas.
Steep crop cuts planned
Water cuts on this scale have not been ordered in California since the drought of 1977. Although backup supplies, including groundwater, are available to many who hold junior rights, virtually all of them will be forced to make difficult decisions, such as fallowing significant areas of farmland.
The Colusa Drain Mutual Water Co. is one example of how the drought has affected users. Operated by a collection of farmers in the Colusa Basin north of Sacramento, the water company distributes, via the Colusa Drain, water rights held by its members in the Sacramento River. Virtually all those are junior rights that are directly affected by the curtailment order.
Jim Wallace, president of the water company, said he warned members to expect “zero” water supply under their water rights this year, based on runoff projections and early warnings by the water board.
As a result, most decided weeks or even months ago to plant crops based only on what they could support with alternate water supplies, whether groundwater or some other surface water they might have available.
But that doesn’t mean all is well, Wallace said. Of the 56,000 acres served by the water company, 20,000 acres are normally planted with rice. This year, only about 4,000 acres are planted in rice, an 80 percent reduction. Steep cuts also have occurred in tomatoes and alfalfa, the other primary crops grown in the district.
“It’s a huge reduction in our grower base,” Wallace said. “The worst-case scenario was made official yesterday, and was already anticipated by every grower in my group. Each water manager up and down the Sacramento Valley would have a similar story.”
For the full article Sacramento Bee