Saturday, April 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Amid drought, California agency won’t allot water

By
From page A1 | February 01, 2014 | 1 Comment

California Drought

File - In this Jan. 17, 2014 file photo, a 5 MPH boating speed limit buoy is stuck in the ground as there is no water to be seen at Black Butte Lake near Orland Buttes Recreation Area in Orland, Calif. Amid California's most crippling drought of modern times, state officials on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, announced they will not allocate water to agencies that serve 25 million people and nearly 1 million acres of farmland. The announcement marks the first time in the 54-year history of the State Water Project that such an action has been taken. State Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said the action was taken to conserve the little water that remains behind the dams in the state's vast system of reservoirs. (AP Photo/Chico Enterprise-Record, Jason Halley, File)

SACRAMENTO — Amid an epic drought, California officials announced Friday they won’t send any water from the state’s vast reservoir system to local agencies beginning this spring, an unprecedented move that worsens a precarious situation for 25 million people and 1 million acres of farmland.

The announcement marks the first time in the 54-year history of the State Water Project that such an action has been taken, but it does not mean that every farm field will turn to dust and every city tap will run dry.

The 29 agencies that draw from the state’s water-delivery system have other sources, although those also have been hard-hit by the drought.

Many farmers in California’s Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country, also draw water from a separate system of federally run reservoirs and canals, but that system also will deliver just a fraction of its normal water allotment this year.

The announcement affects water deliveries planned to begin this spring, and the allotment could increase if weather patterns change and send more storms into the state.

Nevertheless, Friday’s announcement puts an exclamation point on California’s water shortage, which has been building during three years of below-normal rain and snow.

“This is the most serious drought we’ve faced in modern times,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. “We need to conserve what little we have to use later in the year, or even in future years.”

State Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said there simply is not enough water in the system to meet the needs of farmers, cities and the conservation efforts that are intended to save dwindling populations of salmon and other fish throughout Northern California.

For perspective, California would have to experience heavy rain and snowfall every other day from now until May to get the state back to its average annual precipitation totals, according to the Department of Water Resources.

“These actions will protect us all in the long run,” Cowin said during a news conference that included numerous state and federal officials, including those from wildlife and agricultural agencies.

Friday’s announcement came after Gov. Jerry Brown’s official drought declaration in mid-January, a decision that cleared the way for state and federal agencies to coordinate efforts to preserve water and send it where it is needed most. The governor urged Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent.

It also reflects the severity of the dry conditions in the nation’s most populous state. Officials say 2013 was the state’s driest calendar year since records started being kept, and this year is heading in the same direction.

A snow survey on Thursday in the Sierra Nevada, one of the state’s key water sources, found the water content in the meager snowpack is just 12 percent of normal. Reservoirs are lower than they were at the same time in 1977, which is one of the two previous driest water years on record.

State officials say 17 rural communities are in danger of a severe water shortage within four months. Wells are running dry or reservoirs are nearly empty in some communities. Others have long-running problems that predate the drought.

The timing for of Friday’s historic announcement was important: State water officials typically announce they are raising the water allotment on Feb. 1, but this year’s winter has been so dry they wanted to ensure they could keep the remaining water behind the dams. The announcement also will give farmers more time to determine what crops they will plant this year and in what quantities.

Farmers and ranchers throughout the state already have felt the drought’s impact, tearing out orchards, fallowing fields and trucking in alfalfa to feed cattle on withered range land.

Without deliveries of surface water, farmers and other water users often turn to pumping from underground aquifers. The state has no role in regulating such pumping.

But groundwater levels already have been stressed, after pumping accelerated during the dry winter in 2008 and 2009.

“The challenge is that in last drought we drew down groundwater resources and never allowed them to recover,” said Heather Cooley, water program co-director for the Pacific Institute, a water policy think tank in Oakland. “We’re seeing long term, ongoing declining groundwater levels, and that’s a major problem.”

Many towns and cities already have ordered severe cutbacks in water use.

With some rivers reduced to a trickle, fish populations also are being affected. Eggs in salmon-spawning beds of the American River near Sacramento were sacrificed after upstream releases from Folsom Dam were severely cut back.

The drought is highlighting the traditional tensions between the groups that claim the state’s limited water for their own priorities — farmers, city residents and conservationists.

Chuck Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, urged everyone to come together during the water crisis.

“This is not about picking between delta smelt and long-fin smelt and chinook salmon, and it’s not about picking between fish and farms or people and the environment,” he said. “It is about really hard decisions on a real-time basis where we may have to accept some impact now to avoid much greater impact later.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • The MisterFebruary 01, 2014 - 7:56 am

    After years and years of Chemtrails in the skies overhead, we enter yet another worsening year of drought. Now will you look up and get angry?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Transplant recipients talk about their best gifts

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Solano unemployment inches downward

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

 
Spering, Bertani spar over fighting crime

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 5 Comments | Gallery

 
Fairfield council candidates weigh in on crime

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Police release name of woman found dead in Fairfield canal

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Five homes featured on Symphony Home Tour

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Congregation invites public to Easter music, message

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Jury acquits substitute teacher in child abuse case

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4

Weather for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B13

 
.

US / World

California farmers to get more water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Teen sentenced in Oakland toddler’s killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

More Latino than white students admitted to UC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
3 alleged gang members convicted of murder

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
From Clinton to Obama, many parallels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
PG&E to be arraigned in fatal pipeline blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Mom and son who died in San Francisco fire ID’d

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Easter on 4/20, pot holy day; pastors reach out

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
NASA’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Atheist national conference aims at Mormon church

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Some countries get Obama, but want his wife, too

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Man who avoided prison is overwhelmed by support

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Teen suspended for asking Miss America to prom

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

White House updating online privacy policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
SpaceX making Easter delivery of station supplies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Sudden movement raises alarm in Wyoming slide area

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
In Egypt, a corruption watchdog hit by backlash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Military scales down, modifies Guam buildup plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Captain of sunken SKorean ferry arrested

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
57-nation OSCE plays key Ukraine monitoring role

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Ukraine crisis: The turning points

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Diplomacy doesn’t move insurgents in Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
.

Opinion

Here we go again in Sacramento

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

.

Entertainment

Prince reaches agreement with music label

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
‘The Boondocks’ back for final ‘offensive’ season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
Stratocaster still a favorite at 60

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

.

Sports

Big innings lift Mustangs over Indians

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Hertl has impressive playoff debut for Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Warriors and Clippers take dislike to playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Ross, Padres beat Cain and Giants 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

A’s come out swinging to beat Astros 11-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors to start O’Neal for Bogut vs. Clippers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
A’s lefty reliever Doolittle gets 5-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

’40-and-up club’: Ageless Hopkins after more belts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jimenez shoots 65 to lead Greater Gwinnett field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Solano scores in ninth for 2-1 BVC baseball win over Yuba

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Choi leads rain-delayed RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

NBA’s Silver wants age limit change, no rush on others

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NBA playoffs looking more wide-open than expected

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Source: Grizzlies’ G Calathes suspended for 20 games

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Mets trade 1B Ike Davis to Pirates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
TNT’s Sager to miss NBA playoffs due to leukemia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Judge says American can’t end retiree benefits yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Mazda recalls 109,000 older SUVs for rust problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

5 features an Amazon phone might offer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Obituaries

Sealwyn Shirley Brucefield Shepherd Malkiewicz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Home Seller 04/19/14

Summerwood features 8 new homes in Suisun

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2

Real estate transactions for April 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3

Average US 30-year mortgage rate falls to 4.27 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3