Tag Archive for 'california’s water supply'

Groundwater report: Regional approach is better than statewide mandates

Photo retrieved from: www.scipeeps.com

“The Northern Sacramento Valley still has a relatively healthful aquifer, where rainfall refills groundwater basins.

But recent reports have shown that groundwater elsewhere, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley, are being tapped at an unsustainable rate.

Meanwhile, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, through which water for most Californians flows, is the focus of an intense planning effort.

“ACWA believes the challenge of providing sustainable groundwater management must be met by local and regional agencies and not by centralized state regulation,” the report states.

“The Sacramento Valley is standing out as a good example of dealing with this problem before it’s a problem,” said Tim Quinn, ACWA executive director.

Relationships between various water users is complicated, Quinn said. “A regional approach requires sophisticated partnering,” much of which is already taking place.

As the available water continues to be stretched, controversy will intensify, Quinn said.

This will probably mean telling growers to pump less water, Quinn said. In wet years, there needs to be a system to refill groundwater.

This year, proposed reservoirs could have captured water released for flood control. “We need a place to park molecules so you can get it out in a year like this and hold it,” he said.

The report highlights seven specific projects as examples of groundwater management.

Glenn County’s groundwater management program is included. It tracks groundwater levels and subsidence.

Examples from other areas include groundwater banking, recycled water use, coordinated water conservation and desalination projects.”

Read more: chicoER.com




Divvying Up the Water Down Under

Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“California farmers have been through several years of scarcity, because of both a drought and court-ordered diversions to protect endangered fish. Fields went fallow and jobs were lost. (And for California fishermen, the better parts of two recent salmon seasons were a total loss because the salmon runs that depend on the major river in the central valley were decimated.)

Last week Mr. Gregson was a featured speaker at the Intelligent Use of Water Conference in Clovis, a small town near Fresno, Calif. The conference generally focused on farmers’ concerns. While Australia’s new water regime is beloved by policy wonks, most California farmers are not enamored of it. (Some of the remarks, including Mr. Gregson’s, can be reviewed here.)

Australian farmers once felt the same way. What happened? An epic 12-year drought, which just ended, according to Juliet Christian-Smith, a senior researcher at thePacific Institute, a water-centric think tank in Oakland, Calif. “Given the extreme circumstances, the water reduction effort made some far-reaching changes to water rights,” she said. “The context is quite different than California at the moment.”

In Australia, each right to use water within a specific basin is awarded as a percentage of all available water in a given year. Priority is given to permanent crops like nut trees or grapes, although even these can run short of water when severe drought hits. Water-intensive annual crops like rice and cotton are the first to be abandoned in dry years.

But in California, rights to use specific amounts of water are assigned on a priority basis in a system analogous to mining claims. Whoever puts that water to use first gets to keep all of the allocation until it runs out.”

Read more: New York Times



Meet the Businesses Hoping to Cash in on California’s Water Crisis


Photo retrieved from: www.carlsbadca.gov

“An estimated 3,000 people work for companies in the San Diego area supplying equipment or logistical support for desalination plants, earning the industry upwards of $350 million in annual revenues.

A key element of their business also supplies facilities that re-use and recycle water using similar technology including the membranes that make up the heart of any ocean desalination plant.

“It’s a big industry,” said Tom Pankratz, who writes about desalination for Global Water Report and consults for various water agencies. “A lot of companies that make stuff for desalination plants also make stuff for power plants and automobile plants. There are a lot of major multi-national corporations that have desalination subsidiaries.”

Some of the biggest companies include General Electric, Dow Chemical, Acciona Aqua, Toray Membrane, Veolia Water Solutions and Hydronautics.

About 20 ocean desalination plants up and down the cost of California – most in the early planning stages – have stirred debate over whether adopting such an expensive technology with large environmental impacts is worth it.”

Read more: AlterNet

New Data Reveals Farmers Are Mining Groundwater at Alarming Rate

Photo retrieved from: www.jetsettingmagazine.com

“California farms represent 8% of the US’s agriculture value, and the Central Valley is where most of that growing takes place. However, as the state struggles with ongoing droughts, the groundwater supplies are dwindling at a frightening rate. According to satellite technology used by NASA, over a 6.5 year period the groundwater supplies in Central Valley leaked away by an amount equal to 63% of the capacity of Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir. With that much water disappearing, it is harder to replenish supplies when it finally does rain. Does this water debt mean a future food crisis?

National Geographic‘s Sandra Postel reports, “Rarely is groundwater use monitored, measured or regulated. This is true for most of the world, as well as for California’s Central Valley-the fruit and vegetable bowl of the United States. Farmers in the 52,000 square-kilometer valley produce 250 different kinds of crops that together account for 8 percent of the nation’s agricultural value. But thanks to the National Atmospheric and Space Administration’s (NASA) satellite mission called GRACE (the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), we’re getting some excellent assessments of what’s happening to water underground-and the picture is sobering.”

Read more: AlterNet