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Browsing the archives for the Agriculture – California category.

California Farmers Claim EPA Extend to Dirt Fields

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, Clean Water ACT - EPA

CBS Sacramento

By Leigh Martinez

Leigh Martinez is the multimedia journalist covering the San Joaquin…


SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY (CBS13) — Farmers say federal regulators are going too far and are taking away their water and chipping away at their property rights under a new rule.

The Environmental Protection Agency says any bodies of water near a river, or standing water that can affect waterways will fall under federal regulation.

Since the 1980s, the EPA has regulated any water you can navigate through, including rivers and large lakes. But the new Clean Water Act Rule will add smaller bodies of water to the government’s oversight.

Bruce Blodgett with the San Joaquin Farm Bureau says the new rule would include any standing body of water, and dry land that can potentially hold water.

“This field is a great example,” he said. “This dirt field would now be ‘waters of the U.S.’ under this proposed rule.”

The bureau says the new rule allows the government to require farmers to get permits to farm from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“We have a lot of fields that are fallow, sitting idle this year, because of the drought,” he said. “That will enable the Corps to come after those lands when they try to bring them back into production next year saying, ‘No, those are now waters of the U.S.’”

Under the new Clean Water Act rule, the bureau claims any private property with a pond and any farm with an irrigation district is now under federal regulation.

But the EPA says, that’s not true. It says the new rule applies to tributaries and water near rivers that could seep into waterways and affect the environment. The agency says it’s not going after ponds and won’t interfere with farm irrigation. It says ditches that are not constructed in streams and that flow only when it rains are not covered.

A federal court has granted 13 states a stay on the orders while it examines a lawsuit. California is not part of the lawsuits, but farmers are watching.


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Time for another water bond? Draft language floating

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather

PNP comment: Rumors claim they didn’t spend the 2014 Water Bond monies correctly, why should we believe they will now? — Editor Liz Bowen

Former Brown administration official considers asking voters for follow-up water bond

Measure comes less than a year after Californians approved $7.5 billion water bond

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article32838381.html#storylink=cpy

It hasn’t been a year since Californians approved a $7.5 billion water bond. But with drought still ravaging the state – and Democratic-heavy turnout expected in November 2016 – a former Brown administration official is mulling asking voters to approve a follow-up measure.

Gerald Meral, a former deputy secretary of the state’s Natural Resources Agency, sent draft language for “The Water Supply Reliability and Drought Protection Act of 2016” to water agency officials, environmentalists and others in recent days.

In an email to associates over the weekend, Meral said his organization, the San Francisco-based Natural Heritage Institute, is considering sponsoring a bond on the November 2016 ballot to “fund programs which were not funded or were underfunded” in the water bond last year.

The draft language leaves the amount of the measure blank, and Meral said Sunday that he doesn’t know how big it would be.

“Not too big,” he said. “We shouldn’t get carried away.”

The follow-up bond would include funding for water recycling, water conservation, groundwater desalination and watershed management, among other measures. It would also provide money for property owners to install drought-tolerant landscaping, with extra incentives for low-income homeowners.

“The public seems pretty receptive to doing something about water,” Meral said. “Whether they still will be next year, who knows? … We’re looking at it, anyway.”

The proposal does not include additional money for storage, a priority of many Republicans, except for grants to local agencies to repair reservoirs principally used for flood control.

Before retiring from the state in 2013, Meral served as the chief steward of Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial proposal to build two tunnels to divert water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the south.

The draft measure includes language prohibiting bond money from being used for Delta conveyance facilities.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article32838381.html#storylink=cpy

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Drought fallowing half-million acres in California in 2015

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather

SAN FRANCISCO – California’s now 4-year-old drought will cost state agriculture $1.84 billion in 2015, researchers estimated in a study Tuesday from the University of California at Davis.

The biggest chunk of that cost will come from the fallowing of 542,000 acres that lack water for irrigation, the study said. That’s about one-fifth more land than drought forced out of production last year, researchers noted.

Agriculture, water and economic experts at the university stressed the extent to which farmers in California — the country’s leading agriculture state — are relying on groundwater pumping to make up for dwindling stores of water in state rivers, creeks, reservoirs and snowpack.

Overall in 2015, farmers have nearly 9 million fewer acre feet of surface water for irrigation, out of the 28 million acre feet that state water officials say California agriculture uses in an average year. An acre foot is the amount an average California household uses in a year, and it is one of the standard units of measurement for water.

To make up for that, farmers and ranchers are pumping an additional 6 million acre feet of water for irrigation out of the state’s underground water aquifers this year, Tuesday’s study said. The study adds to findings — from sources ranging from overbooked drillers of water wells to groundwater studies by NASA scientists — that California, in drought, is pumping up its groundwater at an alarming rate.

The study calls the rate of pumping of groundwater in the drought unprecedented. While California lawmakers in 2014 passed the state’s first legislation to try to protect key aquifers from getting pumped dry of useable water, the state’s 27-year timeline for bringing groundwater pumping under regulation is likely too long, the University of California at Davis researchers said.

The drought will hit farm workers as well as farm owners in 2015, costing 10,100 seasonal farm jobs, the study said. Agriculture overall employs more than 400,000 workers in California.

The study noted one area of agriculture that is booming despite the drought. The state’s acreage of almonds and walnuts has grown by 200,000 since 2010, despite constraints on water, the study said. Economists say growing demand from consumers in China for nuts as snack food is driving the almond-orchard boom here.

Agriculture consumes about 80 percent of all water from rivers, lakes and other sources that Californians use, and it accounts for about 2 percent of the state’s economy.

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USDA Putting Solar Panels on Chicken Coops–Cost of Eggs Double in Year

Agriculture - California, Federal gov & land grabs

PNP comment: Feds are once again creating “costly” unneeded programs and projects. Ridiculous! — Editor Liz Bowen


California Political Review

In the past year the cost of eggs have doubled. Thanks to the California chicken condo law we can not buy eggs produced in Arizona, Nevada or any other State—unless their eggs was created in condo’s. Now the Feds have decided to make the cost of eggs even higher—by charging $64 million for solar panels for animal—including chickens.

“The federal agency announced Friday that its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) will spend $63 million on solar panels and wind turbines for the farming industry.

One project, totaling $16,094, was awarded to Blue Sky Poultry, Inc., of Bainbridge, Ga., to “install a solar array on the roof of poultry houses.”

Other projects announced by the USDA included $18,000 for solar panels for a fruit farm in Ohio, and $19,750 for a wind turbine for a farm in Minnesota.”

Want to make people poorer? Give more money to Washington for their radicalism and craziness. You did not need the money being spent on solar for chickens and fruit.


USDA Putting Solar Panels on Chicken Coops

Agency announces $63 million for solar projects for farms

BY: Elizabeth Harrington, Washington Free Beacon, 8/8/15
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is spending millions on green energy projects for farms, including putting solar panels on the tops of chicken coops.

The federal agency announced Friday that its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) will spend $63 million on solar panels and wind turbines for the farming industry.

One project, totaling $16,094, was awarded to Blue Sky Poultry, Inc., of Bainbridge, Ga., to “install a solar array on the roof of poultry houses.”

Other projects announced by the USDA included $18,000 for solar panels for a fruit farm in Ohio, and $19,750 for a wind turbine for a farm in Minnesota.

The majority of funding is going toward similar small projects. The agency is also financing larger solar projects through loan guarantees in the amounts of $3 to $4 million, and funding a $5 million project to turn wood into gas.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the $63 million in funding would “create jobs, reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and helps usher in a more secure energy future for the nation.”

The USDA pointed out that the Obama administration has spent more than $291 million in grants and $327 million in loan guarantees on green energy projects for farmers through the program since the president took office.


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Water Taken From Families and Farms Not Enough for Leftist Environmentalists

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, California water, Clean Water ACT - EPA, Endangered Species Act, Federal gov & land grabs

California Political Review

The Left is upset; you still have enough water to boil an egg. Obviously you do not care if fish bait (delta smelt) are comfortable. The very confused Guv Brown just spent $287 million meant for dams for the comfort of delta smelt. He also took water from a lake meant for farmers, to continue to make the delta smelt comfortable. He also spent $10 million to create a delta smelt hatchery at UC Davis—which has created 20,000 fish bait.

“All of that boils down to the impact on fish in the California Delta. The complaint says the state’s practices have virtually driven the Delta smelt to extinction and imperil the futures of other fish.

The complaint points to the Board’s issuance of temporary urgency change petitions that have impacted water quality and fresh water flows, especially in the California Delta.”

After all that Brown has done for the fish bait and to the California citizens, that is still not enough. Seriously, you think water and money should be given for the welfare of the delta smelt? Personally, worms are cheaper.


State accused of killing off endangered fish

Central Valley Business Times, 7/22/15

  • Complaint says Brown Administration favors alfalfa over fish

  • “If the SWRCB can require urban conservation, it can also require conservation in agriculture”

The State Water Resources Control Board has failed to follow the law and the state Constitution by favoring farmers over fish through its decisions – and lack of enforcement, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance says in a lengthy complaint filed against the board Wednesday.

It says the State Water Board, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation through its Central Valley Project, and the Department of Water Resources through its State Water Project, have violated the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan, its implementing requirements, the federal Clean Water Act, the federal Endangered Species Act, the public trust doctrine enshrined in California law and the state Constitution.

All of that boils down to the impact on fish in the California Delta. The complaint says the state’s practices have virtually driven the Delta smelt to extinction and imperil the futures of other fish.

The complaint points to the Board’s issuance of temporary urgency change petitions that have impacted water quality and fresh water flows, especially in the California Delta.

It also says the State Water Board has failed to enforce required water quality standards, including salinity standards that were supposed to have been imposed five years ago.

“Considering the conditions of drought which are described in the ‘drought emergency’ declared by Governor Brown — the curtailments of water rights, the waiver of … standards to protect fish and wildlife and water quality in the Delta watershed — it is time for the SWRCB to declare flood irrigation by agriculture during the drought emergency a waste and unreasonable use until the emergency is over,” says the complaint, in part.

“If the SWRCB can require urban conservation, it can also require conservation in agriculture. Flood irrigation in the Sacramento Valley in particular is unreasonable when the endangered salmon are facing extirpation. Increased evaporation from spreading water on the ground alone likely uses more stored water than that needed to save the fishery,” it says.

It says that growing alfalfa and irrigating pasture alone uses 8.6 million acre-feet of water in California and provides low net revenue and few jobs. “The SWRCB can and must reduce the quantity of water allocated to irrigated pasture and low-value crops like alfalfa that use prodigious amounts of water during the drought emergency. To continue this use is unreasonable and a waste of water and must be stopped or reduced until the drought emergency is declared over,” it says.

The formal complaint is expected to be merely a required precursor to taking the issues to court.

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Sacramento County Supervisors: Marijuana Cultivation is Water Waste

Agriculture - California, California Rivers, California water, State gov

California Political Review.com

This is a terrible choice for the Left. They want to stop “water waste” but do not want to stop the illegal growing of marijuana. What to do? We know that the growing of marijuana takes more water than the growing of almonds. Marijuana growers do not buy their water—they steal it. In the Yosemite area the major crime is the theft of water.

“”According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, a single marijuana plant uses an average of six gallons of water per day during the growing cycle,” said Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan, who introduced the proposal. In light of the state’s ongoing drought, she said it’s important to curb that waste.

Note the opposition to growing marijuana has nothing to do with it being illegal or a dangerous drug. Opposition is based on water use, not the criminal act. So, I guess the Sacramento Board of Supervisors have no problem with crimes being committed. We also know that since they protect illegal aliens from law enforcement. Why should any of us obey the law if elected officials don’t care?

Sacramento County Supervisors: Marijuana Cultivation is Water Waste

California County News, 07/20/2015

Violators of Sacramento County’s regulations on indoor marijuana cultivation will face even steeper fines following a vote by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. That’s because the board has decided to revise the county’s water code and declare marijuana cultivation a form of water waste.

“According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, a single marijuana plant uses an average of six gallons of water per day during the growing cycle,” said Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan, who introduced the proposal. In light of the state’s ongoing drought, she said it’s important to curb that waste.

The rule goes into effect in 30 days. Those who cultivate more than the legal limit of nine plants could face additional fines of up to $500 per day. That’s $500 for water waste on top of the existing $500 fines for violating the cultivation rules.

Some residents complained that the changes unfairly target medical marijuana users.

“So if you’re going to regulate cannabis cultivators, you should find a way to regulate other things because they could have a greenhouse and could be growing all kinds of plants,” said Marriah Smith, who grows marijuana inside her home.

The code applies to households under the Sacramento County Water Agency area jurisdiction. Most cities within Sacramento County have ordinances of their own governing marijuana cultivation. Outdoor cultivation is already banned in unincorporated areas under restrictions approved last year.

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It’s my water — my grandfather paid for it, says California farmer

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, California Rivers, California water, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

California issued its first cease-and-desist order on Thursday, July 16, 2015, telling an irrigation district to stop pumping water under this year’s tightened drought regulations. Some senior water rights holders are challenging California regulators authority to tell them to stop drawing water from rivers running dry due to the drought. Associated Press file photo by Rich Pedroncelli

Posted: |

FRESNO >> California water regulators flexed their muscles by ordering a group of farmers to stop pumping from a branch of the San Joaquin River amid an escalating battle over how much power the state has to protect waterways that are drying up in the drought.

The State Water Resources Control Board issued the cease and desist order Thursday against an irrigation district in California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley that it said had failed to obey a previous warning to stop pumping. Hefty fines could follow.


The action against the West Side Irrigation District in Tracy could be the first of many as farmers, cities and corporations dig in to protect water rights that were secured long before people began flooding the West and have remained all but immune from mandatory curtailments.

“I’ve made investments as a farmer based on the rule of law,” said David Phippen, an almond grower in the South San Joaquin Irrigation District. “Now somebody’s changing the law that we depend on.”

Phippen said his grandfather paid a premium price in the 1930s for hundreds of acres because it came with nearly ironclad senior water rights.

Phippen said he takes those rights to the bank when he needs loans to replant almond orchards or install new irrigation lines. He fears that state officials are tampering with that time-tested system.

“In the water world, the pre-1914 rights were considered to be gold,” said Ed Casey, a water attorney who says the battle between the state water board and farmers “tests … the limitations on that piece of gold.”

Several irrigation districts have filed unresolved legal challenges to stop the curtailments demanded by the state.

Among them is the West Side Irrigation District, which claimed a victory in a ruling last week by a Sacramento judge who said the state’s initial order to stop pumping amounted to an unconstitutional violation of due process rights by not allowing hearings on the cuts.

Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang also indicated, however, that the water board can advise water rights holders to curtail use and fine them if the agency determines use exceeded the limit.

West Side is a small district with junior water rights, but the ruling also has implications for larger districts with senior rights.

West Side’s attorney Steven Herum said the order issued Thursday was prompted after the judge sided with his client.

“It is clear that the cease-and-desist order is retaliatory,” Herum said. “It’s intended to punish the district.”

Water board attorney Andrew Tauriainen disputed that contention, saying the state’s investigation began months ago and was slowed by the district’s recent lawsuit.

“A reasonable person could look at West Side Irrigation’s lawsuit and infer that it was timed to thwart the enforcement action that West Side knew was coming,” Tauriainen said.

Even if the state prevails in its push for curtailments, it would face manpower and equipment challenges trying to ensure that farmers in far-flung rural areas don’t illegally divert water.

The state has just 23 inspectors who have performed 250 field visits since May, when the state started to send more than 9,000 letters informing farmers and large water users of low flowing rivers and streams, said Kathy Mrowka, the state’s water rights enforcement manager.

Meanwhile, courts must sort out whether the state has the power to tell farmers what they can do with water claimed before the government got involved in 1914.

Buzz Thompson, a water rights expert at Stanford Law School, expects California to prevail in the fight to pursue its unprecedented water cuts because courts have consistently expanded its authority.

“It’s only when you get into a really serious drought that you finally face the question,” he said.

California is an anomaly among Western states in the way it treats water rights. Thompson said other states use widespread meters and remote sensors to measure consumption or don’t provide special status to those with property next to natural waterways.

“In any other state, this wouldn’t be a question,” he said.

California rights holders are going to have to abide by more strict measurement requirements starting next year after fighting several attempts to overhaul the rules for decades, said Andy Sawyer, a longtime attorney at the water board.

“They long thought it’s nobody else’s business,” said Lester Snow, executive director of the California Water Foundation, which advocates for better measurement of water consumption to improve management.



Nirappil reported from Sacramento, California.

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Court decision finds water districts were deprived of their water rights by bureaucratic govenment agencies

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, California Rivers, California water, Lawsuits, Liberty

PNP comment: This is great news ! — Editor Liz Bowen

News from Pacific Legal Foundation

July 20, 2015

It’s a block-buster ruling for water rights and property rights, and Pacific Legal Foundation played a pivotal “behind-the-scenes” role to help make it happen.

A decision just issued by the Superior Court in Sacramento grants a preliminary injunction to four water districts that were issued curtailment (cease diversion) letters by the State Water Resources Control Board in May and June of this year. The four districts — Westside Irrigation District, Central Delta Water Agency, South Delta Water Agency, and the Woods Irrigation Company — argued that the letters deprived them of the use of their water rights in violation of the due process clause because the letters were issued without a prior hearing.

PLF is not directly involved in the case, but there’s no doubt we played a strong and powerful role in achieving this positive outcome. The trial court relied heavily on the 2014 decision in PLF’s Duarte v. Corps of Engineers case, in which the federal district court ruled that John Duarte could go to court to challenge the Corps “cease and desist” letter that ordered him to stop farming. Just like John Duarte, the water districts here have a right under the Due Process Clause to a hearing before their rights are taken away.

This state court decision is great news for California water right holders and property owners generally. It extends the Duarte holding from the single cease and desist letter individually addressed to Duarte and specifically identifying Duarte’s property, to form letters that the Water Board sent to hundreds of senior water right owners across California.

The pain of California’s drought is bad enough without regulators, acting under emergency regulations adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board, trying to pull a fast one to outright seize water rights. Drought or no drought, bureaucrats will have to answer to the rule of law. No organization is more determined to protect water rights and our constitutional liberties than Pacific Legal Foundation.

Thanks for your support. We hope you see that it is having a profound, and positive impact, in rescuing liberty from coast to coast.

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Recent storms impact stream channels on the Klamath National Forest

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, Forestry & USFS

News from Klamath National Forest, USFS

July 20, 2015

Yreka, CA – Heavy rainstorms over the Klamath National Forest within the past week triggered a number of debris flows, with some blocking access roads. Water, rocks, mud and trees were swept downslope in the Music Creek, Beaver Creek, Grider and Walker Creek drainages.

“Not only did these storms start fires with lightning, in some areas they also brought up to an inch and a half of rain in as little as 30 minutes,” commented Forest Supervisor Patty Grantham. “On steep slopes where 2014 wildfires left extremely burned conditions, this amount of water falling in such a short time frame scoured out hillsides and small drainages and brought a slurry of mud and trees downhill.”

Patrolling for storm damage continues, and to-date 38 drainage pipes on Forest roads have been found to be completely or partially blocked and are being cleaned out. No significant road damage has occurred as a result of these debris flows. Over $1.3 million worth of burned area emergency repair (BAER) work was completed following the 2014 fires in order to safeguard water quality, and protect infrastructure, private property and natural resources from this type of heavy rain event. Storms of the past week have tested these repairs, and they continue to work successfully.

Heavy rain events are anticipated after fires and BAER work is implemented to reduce damage risk. The unusually high proportion of severely burned areas from the 2014 Klamath wildfires increases the risk of debris flows and property damage. “Even when we experience just average-size storms and rainfalls, post-fire landslides are common and expected in many Klamath drainages,” said Angie Bell, Klamath National Forest geologist. “Add water to steep slopes and erosive soils, especially ones where there is no longer living vegetation due to wildfire, and the likelihood of landslides is high.”
Removing vegetation can lead to increases in groundwater levels over time which in turn can lead to deep seated landslides. The 1997 flood triggered a disproportionate number of landslides in areas burned at high severity by the 1987 fires in the Grider, Walker and Elk Creek Watersheds.

As part of the proposed Westside Fire Recovery Project, tree planting activities are proposed for nearly 20,000 acres of the fire-effected landscape. Tree planting will mitigate wildfire effects to landslide processes by reestablishing living root systems on hillsides that will help hold soils in place in future storms.

“The best thing we can do to reduce the risk of landslides and property damage in the future from severely burned areas is to get trees growing on them again as quickly as possible,” commented Grantham. “Just due to the sheer size of the 2014 fires, the majority of the area will be left to reforest naturally. That will be a slow process, and we will be at increased risk of landslides for a longer period going that route. Areas left to naturally reforest will take more than 80 years to attain the same root stabilizing qualities that planted areas attain in about 30 years.”

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Judge in drought-hit California blocks water cut orders for some farmers

Agriculture - California, California Rivers, California water, State gov

By Victoria Cavaliere


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California regulators violated the rights of some farmers by demanding mandatory water cutbacks without giving them a prior hearing, a state judge ruled on Friday.

California is in the fourth year of a catastrophic drought that has cost its farm sector billions, and prompted the state’s first-ever mandatory cutbacks in urban water use.

Sacramento Superior Court Shelleyanne Chang issued a temporary order restraining the state from punishing four Central Valley districts, which includes dozens of farmers, for disregarding curtailment orders imposed to help conserve water, court records show.

Chang found the State Water Resources Control Board had violated their rights by ordering them to stop pumping from rivers and streams, to which they hold longstanding rights, without a “pre-deprivation hearing.”

The order could hinder regulators’ efforts to enforce water curtailment rules set this year for more than 9,000 holders of water rights, among them farmers growing crops such as olives, almonds, and cherries, the Sacramento Bee newspaper reported.

It was the first time in 40 years the state had moved to curtail the water rights of farmers and agencies whose claims date from before 1914, a group that is usually protected by their long-standing water rights.

Although Friday’s order covers only the four districts, the ruling could set a precedent and affect “everybody that received a curtailment order,” Sacramento water law attorney Stuart Somach told the paper.

The water board said it was reviewing the court order, but the ruling made clear regulators were still able to punish violators of the water code or illegal users of water.

Under the new rules, cities and towns must cut water use by a quarter, in a complicated regulatory system that requires some communities to cut back use by 36 percent but others as little as 4 percent.

“The Court has provided an opportunity for additional briefing on these issues, with a further hearing on the matter,” the board said in a statement.

Unauthorized diversions during the drought emergency can attract enhanced penalties of up to $1,000 per day and $2,500 per acre-foot of water diverted.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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