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Many Central Valley farms to get full federal water supplies

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, California water

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced full federal water allocations for at least some parts of the Central Valley, including the Friant Division, where many citrus growers went without water in 2014 and 2015.

Tim Hearden

Capital Press

Published on March 1, 2017 10:00AM

Last changed on March 1, 2017 12:00PM

Shasta Lake was 85 percent full and at 117 percent of its historical average as of Feb. 27. Full reservoirs and abundant snowpack have enabled the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to give full water allocations to many farmers in the Central Valley.

Tim Hearden/Capital Press

Shasta Lake was 85 percent full and at 117 percent of its historical average as of Feb. 27. Full reservoirs and abundant snowpack have enabled the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to give full water allocations to many farmers in the Central Valley.

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SACRAMENTO — Full reservoirs and an abundant snowpack have enabled the Central Valley Project to promise full allocations of water to many valley farms, federal officials announced Feb. 28.

Citrus growers in the eastern San Joaquin Valley’s Friant division will get 100 percent of their contracted supplies after most went without federal surface water in 2014 and 2015 and received 75 percent last year.

“We are extremely pleased with that announcement,” said Laura Brown, director of government affairs for the Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual. “We were expecting it with all the rain we’ve had.”

Among others promised their full supplies are customers of the Central San Joaquin Valley Conservation District and Stockton East Water District and urban customers in the Sacramento area and eastern San Francisco Bay area served by water from the American River.

Settlement contractors on the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers were told in mid-February they would get their full supplies based on the volume of inflow to Shasta Lake, officials said.

The agency will wait until mid-March to determine other allocations, including those for the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, which only received 5 percent last summer despite late-season storms that provided more water elsewhere.

Several factors will determine the remaining allocations, said Ron Milligan, a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation operations manager in Sacramento. They include the state Department of Water Resources’ third manual snowpack survey, which was set for March 1, as well as reservoir levels and hydrologic conditions, he said.

But Milligan and other federal officials acknowledged in a conference call with reporters that the delay is also partly caused by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s failure to complete its fisheries’ temperature management plan for Shasta Lake. The plan could require more water to be kept in the lake this summer to provide cold water for federally protected winter-run chinook salmon.

“Growers are making their planting decisions now,” said Ryan Jacobsen, the Fresno County Farm Bureau’s chief executive officer. “Farmers cannot make choices on what might be an allocation … They need real numbers.”

Jacobsen said Westside growers aren’t expecting a full allocation, which he said is “unacceptable” considering that snowpack levels in most areas are more than 150 percent of normal and outflow from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has totaled more than 24 million acre-feet since October. Hundreds of thousands of acres on the Westside have been fallowed in recent years because of a lack of water.

But Pablo Arroyave, Reclamation’s acting Mid-Pacific regional director, said the lack of an allocation for the Westside now doesn’t mean the area won’t get water. He said the agency will take advantage of the current hydrology to try to get as much water as possible to districts.

A substantial amount of CVP water is already in storage south of the Delta, and federal share of the San Luis Reservoir west of Los Banos, Calif., is expected to be full within the first week of March, officials said.

Given the large snowpack and high river flows this year, much of the water already in storage will be available for delivery to CVP contractors this spring and summer, they said.

For the CVP overall, this was the first year of widespread 100 percent allocations for agriculture since 2006, officials said. The Friant Division’s supply comes as Millerton Lake near Fresno was at 82 percent of capacity and 126 percent of normal as of Feb. 27, prompting dam operators to boost releases to make room for a big anticipated snowmelt.

The full allocation applies to the division’s Class 1 customers, or the most senior landowners, while customers may take Class 2 supplies as long as the ramped-up releases from Millerton Lake continue, the bureau noted in a news release.

The bureau typically announces its initial allocations in mid-February, although it waited until April 1 last year to take into account anticipated storms in March while giving informal reports to water districts, spokesman Shane Hunt said at the time.

The 2016-17 water year has been “extreme” so far, prompting Reclamation to take “an approach to the announcement of CVP water allocations this year that differs from our historic practice,” Arroyave said. In future years, the agency will strive to release initial allocations for all water users in February, he said.

The State Water Project initially allocated 20 percent of contracted supplies in late November and has so far upped its anticipated deliveries to at least 60 percent of requested supplies. The last time the project’s 29 contracting agencies got their full allocations was in 2006.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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March 1, 2017: Siskiyou snowpack is 125 percent of average

Air, Climate & Weather

FORT JONES, CA – The Klamath National Forest has completed the March 1st snow surveys. These measurements are a part of the statewide California Cooperative Snow Survey program, which helps the State forecast the amount of water available for agriculture, power generation, recreation, and stream flow releases later in the year.
The March 1 snow measurements for 2017 are vastly improved compared to the last several years.  Winter started early in Scott Valley and the Marble Mountains with snow falling as early as September and accumulating since October.  Regular snow has fallen since that time, with few impactful melting periods.  An above average snow pack was surveyed in February.

March data has continued to be above average compared with historic data at the same locations.  According to the current measurements, the snowpack is at 125% of the historic average snow height (snow depth) and at 125% of the historic average Snow Water Equivalent (SWE, a measure of water content) across the Scott River watershed survey points.

These data are very similar to last month’s data, however, the snowpack has become slightly denser.  Historically, the snowpack reaches its annual maximum by late-March/early-April.

Snow surveys are conducted monthly during the winter and spring months (March-May). Forest Service employees travel to established sites in the headwaters of the Scott River watershed to collect information about snow accumulation in the mountains of the Klamath National Forest.  The newest measuring site at Scott Mountain has been monitored for 31 years; the oldest site at Middle Boulder has been monitored for 71 years.  Some sites are located close to Forest roads with good access, while others require hours of travel by snowshoe and/or snowmobile.

The height of snow and SWE are measured by a snow sampling tube with a cutter end that is driven through the snow pack, measuring depth. The snow core is then weighed to determine the water content (SWE). The information is forwarded to the State of California, where the data is compiled with other snow depth reports and becomes part of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys program.

The data is managed by the California Department of Water Resources; more information is available on their website at http://cdec.water.ca.gov/snow/current/snow/index.html.

All news releases, including past snow survey results, are posted on the Klamath National Forest’s website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/newsarchives/klamath/newsarchive.

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The Latest: California snowpack nearing record depths

Air, Climate & Weather, California water

 By The Associated Press

The Latest on California’s snowpack (all times local):

1:25 p.m.

California surveyors say the Sierra Nevada snowpack is close to setting records after five years of punishing drought.

Officials said Wednesday the snowpack’s water content measured at 185 percent of normal. A year ago, it was 84 percent of normal.

The snowpack is vital because it provides one-third of the state’s water to homes and farms when it melts in the spring and summer.

Frank Gehrke, the state’s chief snow surveyor, said the snowpack in some places is nearing levels last seen in 1983.

State climatologist Michael Anderson calls the current levels historic, especially in the central and southern Sierra Nevada, where double the normal amount of snow has fallen.



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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California is having its wettest year since 1895

Air, Climate & Weather, California water

California is having its wettest year since 1895

Los Angeles Times

California is having its rainiest water year since record-keeping began in 1895 — a phenomenon that has lifted tens of millions of residents from drought, according to government records.

It has rained 27.81 inches across the state, on average, from Oct. 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information reported. A water year begins on Oct. 1.

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Sac Bee Editorial: After Oroville, a flood policy for both deluge and drought

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

EDITORIAL: After Oroville, a flood policy for both deluge and drought

Sacramento Bee

One hundred fifty-six years ago, on the night before Christmas, a wave of epic storms rushed in from the Pacific Ocean, pummeling Gold Rush California with great sheets of violent rain. For more than 40 days and 40 nights, the rivers of the Sierra Nevada raged, swollen with melted snow. Mining camps, bridges and saloons were swept away like toys.

Levees crumbled. Thousands died. An entire Chinese mining community perished in the Yuba River. The Central Valley became an inland sea, submerging farms, villages and whole herds of livestock. In the Sacramento Valley, telegraph poles stood under water 30 feet deep.

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Modesto Bee Editorial: What are we supposed to do with all this water?

Air, Climate & Weather, California Rivers, California water

EDITORIAL: What are we supposed to do with all this water?

Modesto Bee

Danger could be headed our way. Again. Those living near the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers west of Modesto have already seen high water, and they’re going to see much more. A week of higher temperatures in the mountains could turn snow into runoff. That would be nice if we had some place to put the water, but we don’t. The state is dragging out the process of spending the $2.5 billion voters approved in 2014 for more storage.

Our reservoirs are full, or close to it. That’s especially true of Don Pedro on the Tuolumne River. Built to hold 2,030,000 acre-feet, it had 1,980,360 as of Friday – leaving a 2 percent cushion. Knowing there’s 17 feet of snow in Tuolumne Meadows and an estimated 2 million acre-feet of frozen water in the watershed, dam managers would like to increase flows now to avoid an emergency later.

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Riverbanks collapse after Oroville Dam spillway shut off

Air, Climate & Weather, California Rivers, Dams other than Klamath

Riverbanks collapse after Oroville Dam spillway shut off

San Francisco Chronicle

When state water officials scaled back their mass dumping of water from the damaged Oroville Dam this week, they knew the riverbed below would dry up enough to allow the removal of vast piles of debris from the fractured main spillway.

But they apparently did not anticipate a side effect of their decision to stop feeding the gushing Feather River — a rapid drop in river level that, according to downstream landowners, caused miles of embankment to come crashing down.

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Looks like the 2014 controversial CA. Water Bond may go to good use after all

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather

PNP comment: This should relieve our concerns about the CA. Water Bond money going to destroy the Klamath dams. There is much more pressing concerns — like protecting and upgrading present dams — than taking 4 hydro-electric dams out that are 200 miles up the Klamath River. — Editor Liz Bowen

Water bond money to go to fixing deteriorating infrastructure across the state


In 2014, California voters approved a $7.5 billion bond that would go to several water projects. So far, only 2 percent of the money has been used and the rest has been sitting in a fund untapped.

In light, of the Oroville Dam scare in early February, lawmakers are looking to focus their attention on flood management projects, like fixing old dams and maybe building new ones.

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Jerry Brown wants to spend nearly $450 million on flood control following dam emergency

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather

PNP comment: If you go to the link, there are several short videos to watch. — Editor Liz Bowen

February 24, 2017

After successfully appealing to the Trump administration to repair the crumbling Oroville Dam, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday that he wants to accelerate spending on dam safety, flood protection and aging transportation infrastructure.

The Democratic governor’s plan would spend $50 million from the general fund and re-purpose $387 million from the $7.5-billion water bond overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2014 to pay for flood control.

Brown, who made a surprise visit to the dam’s incident command post Wednesday, said the state faces tens of billions in infrastructure needs. Brown also is asking the federal government to streamline regulatory

“There is real work to be done,” Brown told reporters at the Capitol, calling the proposed allotments “basic government needs.”

“We got to belly up to the bar and start spending money,” he added.

Federal emergency officials earlier this month approved Brown’s requests to pay for winter storm damages and to support the unfolding response to the emergency at the distressed dam.

California legislators also have taken an interest. A bipartisan group has been taking aerial tours of site amid preparations for next week’s oversight hearing to review what happened in Oroville, including issues with the emergency spillway that forced the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people along the Feather River Basin.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, has said he wants to provide $500 million in competitive grants to local and regional agencies for flood protection.

Oroville Dam spillways weather latest storm as inflow of water slows

State water resources officials and the Butte County sheriff were feeling optimistic Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, as inflows into Lake Oroville were dropping. They said an emergency spillway on Oroville Dam was unlikely to be redeployed and an evacuation warni

Peter Hecht The Sacramento Bee

On Friday, Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, said he was pleased with Brown’s proposed action to repair the spillways and protect flooding.

“It shows that we will do everything necessary to make the dam and communities below it safe. Providing the funding and environmental streamlining is essential to getting that job done now,” Gallagher said.

“We also need to have an immediate, robust, and real discussion about ensuring investment in our water infrastructure,” he added.

California had more than $11.8 billion in unsold natural resources bonds as of Dec. 31, including $7.4 billion from Proposition 1, the water borrowing measure. Last month’s spending plan proposes almost $1.3 billion in natural resources bond sales through December 2017.

Brown said the state also is spending $634 million on Proposition 1E and Proposition 84 bond money for flood control over the next two years.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article134767129.html#storylink=cpy

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Guv Brown asks Trump for help!

Air, Climate & Weather, CA & OR, PRES. TRUMP

California asks Trump for help with Oroville Dam spillway


California Gov. Jerry Brown requested federal assistance from President Donald Trump over the “potential failure” of the Ororville Dam emergency spillway.

“I respectfully request that you issue an emergency declaration for direct federal assistance for the counties of Butte, Sutter and Yuba, as a result of the potential failure of the Lake Oroville Dam emergency spillway,” Brown wrote in a letter to Trump released Monday night.

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