Page 1 of 4312345...102030...Last »
Print This Post Print This Post
Water News

The Modesto Bee

An appeals court said Wednesday that federal officials should have consulted wildlife agencies about potential harm to a tiny, threatened fish before issuing contracts for water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation violated the Endangered Species Act when it failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service in renewing 41 contracts a decade ago. The appeals court sent the case back to a trial judge for further proceedings.

The ruling arises from one of several lawsuits filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmentalists seeking to protect the Delta smelt. The ruling won’t affect water flows because protections for the smelt were kept in place during the lawsuit.

“This about how we are going to manage the water in the future,” said Douglas Obegi, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Read more

Print This Post Print This Post
Water News

Merced Sun-Star

Irrigation officials will consider a potential deal with state water officials that could give Merced growers a little more water for their crops this year and help the irrigation district partially close a projected $10 million budget gap.

The Merced Irrigation District has been negotiating to lower the so-called minimum pool requirement at Lake McClure, which would give farmers more water – about 15,000 to 25,000 acre-feet, depending on runoff – for the drought-plagued growing season. An acre-foot is the amount of water it would take to cover an acre of land a foot deep, or about 325,900 gallons.

Relief for farmers would be minor, but officials said that in a year when farmers will receive the smallest water allocation in living memory, every little bit helps.

Typically, the district sells about 300,000 acre-feet of water to Merced growers. But according to a report released in March, under present drought conditions the district anticipates having only about 98,000 acre-feet of water to sell its growers.

Read more

Print This Post Print This Post
Water News

Lompoc Record

Members of the Klamath Tribes have approved an agreement to share water with cattle ranchers on rivers running through former reservation lands in return for work to improve fish habitat.

The tribes announced Wednesday the vote was 564 in favor and 419 against.

Tribal Chairman Don Gentry said in a statement that the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement is “a monumental step” in restoring tribal fisheries and treaty rights.

The agreement was prompted by irrigation shutoffs to ranchers during a drought last summer after the tribes were awarded senior water rights on the Sprague, Wood and Williamson rivers.

Read more

Print This Post Print This Post
Water News

NOAA News

Wednesday is market day in the city of Santa Rosa, California. Jay Jasperse takes a walk through his local farmers market on a summer day and finds baskets and carts filled with juicy tomatoes, knobby roots, and sweet-smelling herbs. Signs propped up on the rows of booths advertise wine tastings. Just down the road, local giants like Kendall Jackson and E&J Gallo compete on an international scale.

When Jasperse browses produce at the market, he sees beyond the spectrum of earthy colors and the familiar faces behind the counters. He sees the complicated workings behind many of the items on the shelves, such as a bottle of wine.

He sees how the region’s climate—warm and dry in the summer, and cool and wet in the winter—makes winegrowing possible here.

How a winegrower fastidiously watches over his vines until the hot summer sun has stressed the grapes to perfection.

Read more

Print This Post Print This Post
Water News

Herald Net

Farmers on the Klamath Reclamation Project straddling the Oregon-California border are facing irrigation cutbacks caused by drought for the third year in a row.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation operations plan released Wednesday shows only 61 percent of the water needed for full irrigation is available to the 1,200 farms on the project.

Greg Addington of the Klamath Water Users Association said that even with contracts paying farmers to leave their land idle, and groundwater pumping, the agency will have a tough time meeting all the demand for water this year.

The water outlook has improved since a low point in the winter when water supplies were projected to be just 20 percent of what is needed, Addington said. “But it’s still going to be a long dry summer,” he said.

Read more

Print This Post Print This Post
Water News

PhysOrg

University of Cincinnati researchers are at work tracking drought patterns across the United States. Qiusheng Wu, a doctoral student and research assistant for the UC Department of Geography, and Hongxing Liu, a UC professor and head of the Department of Geography, will present details this week at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in Tampa, Fla.

To trace the dynamics around agricultural drought, the UC researchers implemented an Event-based Spatial-Temporal Data Model (ESTDM) to detect, track and monitor conditions. The framework organizes data into objects, sequences, processes and events.

The data was collected from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite, which was the first of its kind dedicated to measure moisture near the surface of the soil. The study focused on four years of data (2010-2014), which included the devastating Texas drought in 2011 and the 2014 California drought.

The satellite uses an L-band (1.4 Ghz) passive microwave radiometer to analyze the spatial and temporal variations of soil moisture and ocean salinity. “Recent studies have shown that many historical drought events in the U.S. are closely related to La Niña, a phenomenon known for its periodic cooling of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. So in addition to measuring soil moisture for drought monitoring, it is also important to measure ocean salinity,” explains Wu.

Read more

Print This Post Print This Post
Water News

Chinook Observer

Most climate models are now saying that it’s an even bet an El Niño will develop later this summer.

As a general rule, El Niño conditions funnel more storms and moisture south to California and result in drier winters in the Pacific Northwest.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said the equatorial Pacific is warming, an event associated with a burgeoning El Niño.

“Following two strong westerly wind bursts since the start of the year, waters below the surface of the tropical Pacific have warmed significantly over the past two months,” said the bureau’s March 25 update. “This has led to some warming at the surface, with further warming expected in the coming weeks.”

Read more

Print This Post Print This Post
Water News

Mavens Notebook

On March 18, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water held an informational oversight hearing on groundwater.  On the agenda, Professor Richard Frank will discuss the laws governing groundwater; Andrew Fahlund with the California Water Foundation will discuss the state’s approach to groundwater management; next water managers from Sonoma County, the Central Valley, and Ventura County will discuss their successes and challenges of managing groundwater basins, and lastly Felicia Marcus from the State Water Board and Gary Bardini from the Department of Water Resources will discuss how the administration is looking at groundwater.  This is the first of four-part coverage of the hearing.

At the start of the hearing, Committee Chair Senator Fran Pavley gave some opening remarks.  “The topic of groundwater and groundwater management could not be more timely,” she began, noting that 35% of water supply in average years is about 35% and substantially more in dry years.

Senator Pavley recalled how the legislation in 2009 contained not legislation establishing the coequal goals and the water bond, but a policy bill on groundwater management.  She said that they didn’t get all they wanted on the groundwater management; it was extremely controversial, and what survived was just for people to start measuring the elevation of their groundwater basins so the state could start to get a handle on overdraft and other issues relating to groundwater management.  “Is that enough? Can we go further?  This is the subject of conversation for this particular hearing,” she said.

Read more

Print This Post Print This Post
Water News

Western Farm Press

Adherents clamoring for more irrigation water for California farms have gained a powerful ally: the sun. It’s helping desalinate brackish water in one important Central California farm community.

An Israeli company has set up its desalination plant on property owned by the 44,000-acre Panoche Water and Drainage District in Firebaugh in western Fresno County. In the pilot phase the unit has cleaned and returned to the distribution system as much as 80 gallons per minute irrigation water of a purer quality than farmers can obtain from their own wells or from district canals. Instead of using conventional power sources the unit relies on solar power.

The installation is located near an area that collects drainage runoff from several large farms in the water district. It has been standard practice for years for farms in the area to install drainage tiles below ground to allow the irrigation water which both carries and collects crop-damaging salts, boron and other minerals to drain away from crop roots.

The simplest explanation of the cleansing process compares it to boiling water on the kitchen stove. The steam carries the salt and other minerals away, leaving a purified liquid. Instead of a gas or electric burner, a special vegetable oil heated by the magnified rays of the sun does the job at Panoche, utilizing a shiny 525-foot long parabolic collector that looks a little like an inverted wiener-shaped umbrella.

Read more

Print This Post Print This Post
Water News

The Sacramento Bee

Flat as a tabletop, the furrowed, brown farm fields east of this San Joaquin Valley town are some of the most productive on Earth.

Every spring, they are planted with a smorgasbord of crops that in one form or another are trucked to grocery stores across America, from fresh juicy tomatoes to freeze-dried onion flakes, honeydew melons to tortilla chips.

Now that bounty is threatened by a crisis of geological proportions: The land is sinking – crippling the region’s irrigation and flood control infrastructure and damaging aquifers that are buffers against climate change.

Nature, though, is not to blame. This problem is self-inflicted, driven by the frontier-style exploitation of the last unregulated resource in California: groundwater.

Read more