Food Grows Where Water Flows

For more than 25 years, the California Farm Water Coalition has been working with our members to share information about farm water issues, and reminding Californians that "Food Grows Where Water Flows."

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CFWC Blog

CFWC Statement on Voluntary Agreements Presented to the State Water Board on its Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan

December 12, 2018 in CFWC Blog, Farm Water in the News, Releases

CFWC Statement on Voluntary Agreements Presented to the State Water Board on its Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan

“Water users and the State of California have brought to the table almost 1 million acre-feet of water and almost $2 billion in funding to implement an unprecedented set of ecosystem restoration goals. It is a comprehensive, system-wide plan that will start showing progress in 2019 with restored habitat, functional water flows, improved temperature for fish, and floodplain improvements that are proven to grow stronger, healthier salmon on their journey to the ocean. We hope the Water Board will choose this more collaborative approach to its water quality control plan rather than a set of forced rules that will harm communities and the economy and that haven’t worked in similar efforts to help fish populations in the past.”

Learn more about the proposed voluntary agreements at: https://water.ca.gov/-/media/DWR-Website/Web-Pages/Blogs/Voluntary-Settlement-Agreement-Meeting-Materials-Dec-12-2018-DWR-CDFW-CNRA.pdf

Countdown: 1 Day to Drought

November 6, 2018 in CFWC Blog, Fisheries, Food Production, Regulations, Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, Salmon, Water Management, Water Rights

Countdown: 1 Day to Droughthourglass with dripping water close-up

On Wednesday, the State Water Board will vote to remove enough water from the system to irrigate over 200,000 acres of farmland or meet the domestic needs of 2 million people every year. If approved, this action will lead to one of the most predictable droughts California has ever faced.

Is a Compromise Still Possible?

UPDATE: Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom sent a letter late on November 6th requesting the State Water Board postpone action on the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan until December 12, 2018. View the Letter HERE.

Until the Board votes, it’s not too late.

Farmers, irrigation districts, large cities, small towns, schools, sanitation officials, economic development agencies, large industries, small business owners and millions of Californians who have implored the Board to reconsider are ready to sit down today, as we have been for years, and work out a compromise plan.

And we come armed with up-to-date science, real world data showing demonstrable results and a willingness to work for a sustainable solution that serves all Californians. The alternative serves no one and the devastation it would cause has been well documented – $3.1 billion in lost economic activity, according to local experts, thousands of jobs gone, land fallowed, loss of water to urban and disadvantaged rural communities alike, negative impacts on schools, local sanitation, and more.

Insufficient water means lost crop production.

 It’s also been well documented that decades of following this same water-only policy has had no effect – fish have continued to decline. And now, the benefits of trying another, more holistic approach are also documented.

A California future that includes healthy rivers and fish as well as jobs, fresh local produce and water for schools, businesses and homes is in front of us if the Board will allow it.

Countdown: 2 Days to Drought

November 5, 2018 in CFWC Blog, Endangered Species, Fisheries, Regulations, Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, Salmon, Water Management, Water Rights

Countdown: 2 Days to Droughthourglass with dripping water close-up

On Wednesday, the State Water Board will vote to remove enough water from the system to irrigate over 200,000 acres of farmland or meet the annual domestic needs of 2 million people every year. If approved, this action will lead to one of the most preventable droughts California has faced.

How Will This Impact Our Food Supply?

Simply put, less water for farms will mean less of the fresh, local produce our families depend on.

California farmers have proven incredibly resilient in drought situations, employing the latest technology to do more with less. However, while you can grow food with less water you can’t grow it with no water.

In conjunction with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, as much as 1 million acres statewide may be fallowed due to the combined impact of these two overlapping regulations. Just ONE acre of land can yield almost 100,000 pounds of tomatoes or 36,000 heads of lettuce. Imagine the impact on California-grown tomatoes, lettuce, oranges, avocadoes, apples, strawberries, grapes, almonds, peaches and more if we have one MILLION acres less to grow our food? You can’t support California’s world-class orchards without reliable water supplies from year to year. The Water Board’s answer? Grow different crops. But farmers grow the crops people want, not the ones the State Water Board’s policy dictates.

U.S. orchard land.

Will there be less produce available, higher prices, fruits and vegetables that are less fresh because they must be shipped in, or all three? It’s hard to know exactly at this point, but the impacts for California consumers will be measurable and will not be limited to freshness and availability.

Our food has to come from somewhere, right? So, if we have less California produce available, then what? If we decrease our capacity at home, we put the safety and reliability of our fresh food supply in the hands of other countries that do not grow food under the same strict regulations that we follow in California.

In addition, our environment will suffer. Importing food to replace what we don’t grow at home means more ships, moretrucks, and more pollution.

There’s still time to adopt compromise plans supported by water districts, scientists, education officials, health departments, farmers, farm workers, cities, economic development officials and others ready to implement solutions that science tells us will help.

Countdown: 3 Days to Drought

November 4, 2018 in CFWC Blog, Fisheries, Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, Salmon, Topics, Water Management, Water Rights

Countdown: 3 Days to Drought

hourglass with dripping water close-up

On Wednesday, the State Water Board will vote to redirect enough water in the system to irrigate over 200,000 acres of farmland or meet the annual domestic needs of 2 million people every year. If approved, this action will lead to one of the most preventable droughts California has ever faced.

Is This Just Fish vs Farms?

Absolutely not. The negative impacts of this policy are broad and deep. Education officials are concerned about water supplies for schools, water experts worry this will stall groundwater replenishment, health officials are troubled by potential impacts on sanitation, cities large and small don’t know how they will replace the lost supply, Bay Area experts are alarmed by potential cuts to water supply, lost jobs and lost economic activity, and the list goes on and on, including some unexpected consequences. In a recent article from Breitbart News, Joel Pollak writes, “Leslie McGowan, the CEO of Livingston Community Health, said local hospitals saw the impact of water shortages — in the rising number of indigent patients, and in the rise of opioid use and other forms of substance abuse.”

Read about additional consequences in the words of those impacted:

“Let us be clear. The detrimental impacts of the Board’s plan will be felt strongly by the children that we serve. . . it is unclear why you have not taken the time to study the financial implications to school districts that would be forced to provide bottled water and portable toilets, or relocate schools entirely, as wells go dry. . . Access to drinking water and water for sanitation is a basic requirement for us to fulfill our mandate to provide quality education to the children of our districts.”

Steven Gomes, Merced County Superintendent of Schools
Tom Changnon, Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools

 “Many communities in the Merced area are already experiencing well production problems and drinking water quality issues . . . Over 800,000 people live in the two counties [Stanislaus and Merced]. Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for the majority of the local population. The plan sorely understates the devastation this recommendation will cause. As an Interim Director of Environmental Health, I am required to ensure that safe, adequate, and dependable water supplies are available for domestic use.”

Vicki Jones, Interim Director of Environmental Health
Merced County Department of Public Health

“The consequences of these cutbacks potentially could cripple our Bay Area economy. Our initial economic analysis of the first iteration of this plan forecast up to 51 percent rationing, resulting in 140,000 to 188,000 jobs lost in the Bay Area.”

Harlan L. Kelly Jr., General Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
Nicole Sandkulla, CEO and General Manager, Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency. 

 

There’s still time to adopt compromise plans supported by water districts, scientists, education officials, health departments, farmers, farm workers, cities, economic development officials and others ready to implement solutions that science tells us will help.