Industry Trends for California Water & Ag | 09.29 to 10.03.20
WATER SUPPLY
 

By CA DWR, 10/1/20
 
California’s Water Year 2020 has come to a close and while Northern California was mostly dry, parts of Southern California experienced above average precipitation. The water year ended below average and further demonstrated the impact of climate change on the state’s water supply. For Water Year 2020, a lack of precipitation resulted in a snowpack of just 50% of average on April 1, as measured by the California Cooperative Snow Survey Program, making it the 10th smallest snowpack in California since 1950. California’s reservoirs received just a third of the water runoff from precipitation and snowmelt that they did during the same time period a year ago.
 


By The New York Times, 10/2/20
 
Two months after a wildfire burned through Paradise, Calif., in 2018, Kevin Phillips, then a manager for town’s irrigation district, walked from one destroyed home to another. Burned out cars, the occasional chimney and the melted skeletons of washers and dryers were the only recognizable shapes. “You started to actually be shocked when you saw a standing structure,” he said. Mr. Phillips, now Paradise’s town manager, was following the team taking samples from intact water meters connected to homes that were now reduced to gray ash.



By Ensia, 9/29/20

Who’s responsible for making sure the water you drink is safe? Ultimately, you are. But if you live in the U.S., a variety of federal, state and local entities are involved as well. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) forms the foundation of federal oversight of public water systems — those that provide water to multiple homes or customers. Congress passed the landmark law in 1974 during a decade marked by accumulating evidence of cancer and other health damage caused by industrial chemicals that found their way into drinking water. The act authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the first time to set national standards for contaminants in drinking water. The EPA has since developed standards for 91 contaminants, a medley of undesirable intruders that range from arsenic and nitrate to lead, copper and volatile organic chemicals like benzene.
 
WATER DEMAND & SOLUTIONS


By Cadiz Inc., 9/30/20

California’s water infrastructure was designed to provide protection from the fluctuations between wet and dry years that characterize its climate. Over the last century, engineers built a sprawling network of reservoirs and canals to store and deliver a consistent, reliable supply of water throughout the state. However, this infrastructure is not always capable of providing an adequate supply of water to the state’s growing population. Located on privately owned land in the Mojave Desert, the Cadiz Water Project area overlays a massive aquifer with federally protected headwaters. Scientists estimate that this aquifer contains more than 20 million acre-feet of water, rivaling Lake Mead—the largest reservoir in the US. —. Groundwater that is not used for farming at Cadiz slowly flows to hyper-saline dry lakes, where it turns salty and evaporates. By better managing this aquifer system which has been farmed since the late 1980s without any adverse environmental impacts, the Cadiz Water Project would augment supply and storage capacity in Southern California.


 


By The Desert Sun, Opinion, 9/30/20

Only a few minutes away from our beautiful Coachella Valley golf courses and music festival locations, there are thousands of people living in conditions without access to clean water or reliable sanitation services. For these families, if something breaks in the private water system serving their home, they go without water. Some families that can barely make ends meet must drive to buy bottled water because they do not have a safe or reliable water supply in their home. I grew up in a home like that and now, as Vice President of the Board of Directors of Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD), I’ve made it my mission to improve these conditions. State law prohibits CVWD, as a public agency, from using existing customers’ funds to pay for new connections to homes. Therefore, CVWD, like all public water agencies across California, relies on grant funding to connect disadvantaged communities (DACs), served by privately operated systems, to our public water system. We care about the needs of our communities and the Board of Directors has made water system consolidation in the Eastern Coachella Valley a priority. The District began working in earnest on these projects more than 10 years ago.
INFRASTRUCTURE & PRICING
 


By KPBS.org, 10/2/20

The San Diego County Water Authority's Board of Directors approved a permanent special agricultural water rate structure Monday that offers lower water rates to farmers in exchange for lower water supply reliability. The program will take effect Jan. 1, 2021, and the water authority will work with its 24 member agencies to implement the program by providing program details, such as qualifying criteria and the signup process. Participants will pay $1,295 per acre-foot for treated water, while municipal and industrial users will pay $1,769 per acre-foot. Farmers and growers who participate in the program will receive a lower level of water service during water shortages or emergencies. That allows the water authority to reallocate those supplies to commercial and industrial customers who pay for full reliability benefits. In exchange, participating farmers are exempt from fixed water storage and supply reliability charges.

WEATHER, HYDROLOGY & CLIMATE CHANGE

 
 
By NBC Los Angeles, 10/2/20

A moderate strength La Nina is forecast in 2021. While La Nina climate patterns trend dry for Southern California it isn't always the case. In this video, I show the pattern and the winter forecast for us and the state of California. Let’s start with a look back at the past five years in Southern California. We had an incredibly strong El Nino the 2015/16 season and hardly got a drop of water. We got a week La Nina 2016/17 and that was a stormy winter season. In fact, it was so rainy in Northern California it erased a six-year drought. A neutral pattern formed 2017/18 and that was dry for us in Southern California.
 
MORE: AccuWeather’s US winter forecast calls for a two-faced season for millions - As Americans hunker down to weather the pandemic this winter at home, nearly every facet of life will remain upended to safeguard against the coronavirus. Millions are working from home and learning remotely and even holiday gatherings will look a lot different this year. Staying closer to home may mean fewer weather worries for commutes and disruptions to daily activities, but AccuWeather has you covered on what you can expect weather-wise as we navigate uncertain times.

 

By NPR, 10/2/20

Wildfires in California continue to burn, ravaging entire communities and the blazes will soon hit a tragic milestone: 4 million acres burned. The air quality in the region is ranked as "very unhealthy" for Friday and through the weekend, according to the U.S. government air quality monitoring website Airnow.gov. It warns people with underlying health issues, older adults and children to stay indoors to avoid inhaling smoke and ash particles.

The National Weather Service has extended a Red Flag warning of critical fire weather conditions, through Saturday morning in the Northern part of the state. The NWS warns that winds are expected to increase "from 10 to 20 mph."
As many as 17,000 firefighters are battling 24 major wildfires statewide.
 AG & FARMING
 

 

The United States Senate today passed a continuing resolution providing short term funding to prevent a government shutdown that included the House's language to extend the hemp pilot program through September of 2021. Farmers across the country have been able to legally grow hemp since the 2014 Farm Bill was signed into law. That bill created a pilot program for hemp to be grown in states with plans that received USDA approval. After passage of the 2018 Farm Bill that removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, states had a deadline of October 31, 2020 to submit final plans to the USDA for approval as the pilot program was expiring. The global pandemic has presented obstacles for state departments of agriculture to finalize plans and submit them to the USDA for approval.





By Greenhouse Grower, 10/3/20

A series of new University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) research projects are taking a deep dive into the opportunities and challenges for hemp production in the Golden State. As a crop relatively new to California growers and researchers, there is still much to learn about variety choices, how varieties and crop responses differ across regions with different soils and climates, best practices for nutrient management, as well as pest and disease issues. UCCE hemp research efforts began in 2019 after the previous year’s Farm Bill declared the crop should no longer be considered a controlled substance, but rather an agricultural commodity. Hemp is valued for its fiber and edible seeds; however, in California, producing hemp for essential oils including medicinal cannabidiol (CBD) is thought to offer the best economic outlook.
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