Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Without Collaboration, SGMA Could Fallow 1 Million Farm Acres
SJV-Water
By SJV Water
Published 4 years ago on
March 9, 2020

Share

If agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley is going to survive, water leaders need to get cozy with new ideas and new allies.
And, yes, that means environmentalists.

Portrait of SJVWater.org chief executive officer Lois Henry
Lois Henry
Analysis
SJV Water
“Historically, water supplies have been developed in a vacuum,” said Eric Averett, general manager of Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District, at the Water Association of Kern County’s annual day-long Water Summit last week.
That doesn’t work anymore.
“All interested parties need to be stakeholders, including environmentalists,” he said to the hundreds of farmers, water managers. and others gathered in Bakersfield’s Mechanics Bank Arena.
A recent report authored by UC Berkeley economics professors David Sunding and David Roland-Holst suggests how big the challenge is. They say that the state’s new groundwater law could result in 1 million acres being fallowed. That would result in 85,000 lost jobs, among other consequences, according to the report.

‘No. New. Water.’

Averett was part of the kick-off panel, along with consultant Scott Hamilton, that looked at the bleak reality that there is “No. New. Water,” as Averett said repeatedly, to help Valley farmers replenish groundwater under the state’s new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
The Kern subbasin alone is overdrafted by 350,000 acre-feet a year, he said. “There is no local solution large enough,” to fill that hole.
That means locals must reach out to others in the region, including environmental groups, to find innovative solutions that benefit more than just a single water interest.
For example, Rosedale partnered with Irvine Ranch Water District to develop a groundwater recharge/bank near the Kern River. It was able to get $86 million in Senate Bill 1 state funding for the $171 million project by promising to give 25% of the water to environmental needs.
“So, environmental groups are a stakeholder in making sure our project succeeds,” Averett said.

Collaboration Is the Answer

There were multiple examples given throughout the day of similar joint projects, from using rice fields to grow bugs for baby salmon, to flooding other farm fields for temporary habitat for migrating birds.

The blueprint conceptualizes building perforated pipes beneath a layer of gravel through the Delta and attaching them to pumps that could be used during high flow events. The pipes would be operated at a low velocity so they wouldn’t suck up any fish, as happens now with the massive pumps near Tracy.
Farmers got water, fish and fowl got a boost and no one went broke doing it.
Speakers encouraged summit attendees to work with larger, more diverse groups to find similar opportunities.
“There is no silver bullet,” said keynote speaker Armando Quintero, chair of the California Water Commission. “What we need is silver buckshot. We need a bunch of solutions that work together.”

Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley

One of the possible solutions that got a lot of attention at the summit was the Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley.
Hamilton explained that the blueprint is more of a process than an actual paper or report.
Its goal is to bring 2.5 million acre-feet of water into the Valley from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta during high flow years in ways that don’t harm native fish and help recharge Valley groundwater.
The blueprint idea, which began with the Friant Water Authority, has been circulating among Valley water interests for about two years.
But many people, including Quintero and former State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus, who was also on a panel at the summit, said they hadn’t yet seen the plan with the kind of details presented by Hamilton.
Both said they were impressed with Hamilton’s blueprint presentation and wanted to learn more.
The basic idea is to capture water that’s excess to environmental needs during winter and spring storms.
The blueprint conceptualizes building perforated pipes beneath a layer of gravel through the Delta and attaching them to pumps that could be used during high flow events. The pipes would be operated at a low velocity so they wouldn’t suck up any fish, as happens now with the massive pumps near Tracy.
Another dead end, literally, for many native fish, is that reverse flows caused by pumping can pull them into box canyons where they can’t get out and die. Under the blueprint, water diversion areas would be open-ended allowing fish to travel through the Delta naturally.

100,000 Acres of New Recharge Ponds

To move that Delta water into the Valley and aid in groundwater recharge, the blueprint envisions a series of new earthen canals depending on “landowners’ willingness to pay” and 100,000 acres of new recharge ponds.
“Traditional projects are very expensive,” Hamilton said, explaining that the blueprint would “piggyback” off existing unused facilities. “The California Aqueduct and Delta-Mendota Canal don’t run at full capacity in winter and spring.”
Importantly, he said, the blueprint doesn’t advocate new storage, such as a reservoir.
Though ideas are starting to gel, Hamilton said costs haven’t been worked out yet but would be coming soon. In an interview later, he ballparked full build-out costs at possibly $5 billion.
Many of the blueprint concepts were submitted to Gov. Newsom’s office last fall for inclusion in his Water Resilience Portfolio, which came out in draft form in January. A final version of that report is expected later this month.
When asked what the chances were for the blueprint’s success, Hamilton gave it “50-50.”
“Two months ago, I would have said 25%,” he said.
About the Author
Lois Henry is the CEO and editor of SJV Water. She has 30 years’ experience covering water and other issues in the San Joaquin Valley. Henry lives with her husband, five dogs, one orange cat, and a cranky rescue mustang horse in Bakersfield.
 

DON'T MISS

Boeing in the Spotlight as Congress Calls a Whistleblower to Testify About Defects in Planes

DON'T MISS

NPR Editor Suspended Over Claims of Network’s ‘Progressive Worldview’

DON'T MISS

Senate Will Convene the Mayorkas Impeachment Trial as Democrats Plot a Quick Dismissal

DON'T MISS

State Will Monitor Crop-Rich Kings County Region to Preserve Groundwater

DON'T MISS

Bob Graham, Former US Senator and Governor of Florida, Passes Away at 87

DON'T MISS

Whitey Herzog, Hall of Fame Manager Who Led Cardinals to 1980s Success, Dies at 92

DON'T MISS

Coalinga-Huron Teachers Say They’ll Strike Unless a Fair Contract Is Offered

DON'T MISS

Coalition: CA Lawmakers Need to Roll Back Proposed ‘Utility Tax’

DON'T MISS

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

DON'T MISS

Now’s the Time to Register for FUSD’s Free Preschool and T-K

UP NEXT

State Will Monitor Crop-Rich Kings County Region to Preserve Groundwater

UP NEXT

Coalition: CA Lawmakers Need to Roll Back Proposed ‘Utility Tax’

UP NEXT

Acquisition of Historic Fresno Real Estate Brand Creates Area’s Largest Brokerage

UP NEXT

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

UP NEXT

Clovis Armed Robbery and Pursuit Result in 3 Arrests, 1 Suspect Still at Large

UP NEXT

Fresno Fire and Police Ramp up Probe Into Fires at Cemeteries

UP NEXT

New Recruiting Programs Put Army, Air Force on Track to Meet Enlistment Goals. Navy Will Fall Short

UP NEXT

Paris Hilton Backs California Bill to Bring More Transparency to Youth Treatment Facilities

UP NEXT

Ex-Marine Gets 9 Years in Prison for Firebombing California Planned Parenthood Clinic

UP NEXT

California Officials Sue Huntington Beach Over Voter ID Law Passed at Polls

State Will Monitor Crop-Rich Kings County Region to Preserve Groundwater

38 mins ago

Bob Graham, Former US Senator and Governor of Florida, Passes Away at 87

55 mins ago

Whitey Herzog, Hall of Fame Manager Who Led Cardinals to 1980s Success, Dies at 92

15 hours ago

Coalinga-Huron Teachers Say They’ll Strike Unless a Fair Contract Is Offered

15 hours ago

Coalition: CA Lawmakers Need to Roll Back Proposed ‘Utility Tax’

18 hours ago

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

20 hours ago

Now’s the Time to Register for FUSD’s Free Preschool and T-K

Local Education /

20 hours ago

‘Hopeville’ Literacy Documentary Showing Tonight at Roosevelt High

Local Education /

20 hours ago

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

21 hours ago

What Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Can Tell Us About the Public Domain and Remix Culture

21 hours ago

Boeing in the Spotlight as Congress Calls a Whistleblower to Testify About Defects in Planes

Boeing is the subject of back-to-back Senate hearings Wednesday, as Congress examines allegations of major safety failures at the embattled ...

19 mins ago

19 mins ago

Boeing in the Spotlight as Congress Calls a Whistleblower to Testify About Defects in Planes

21 mins ago

NPR Editor Suspended Over Claims of Network’s ‘Progressive Worldview’

26 mins ago

Senate Will Convene the Mayorkas Impeachment Trial as Democrats Plot a Quick Dismissal

38 mins ago

State Will Monitor Crop-Rich Kings County Region to Preserve Groundwater

55 mins ago

Bob Graham, Former US Senator and Governor of Florida, Passes Away at 87

15 hours ago

Whitey Herzog, Hall of Fame Manager Who Led Cardinals to 1980s Success, Dies at 92

15 hours ago

Coalinga-Huron Teachers Say They’ll Strike Unless a Fair Contract Is Offered

18 hours ago

Coalition: CA Lawmakers Need to Roll Back Proposed ‘Utility Tax’

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend