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Another record ag year for Monterey County

Monterey County marked a fourth year of record sales in 2015, with crop production values totaling more than $4.84 billion.

Total crop values in 2015 were $348 million more than in 2014 or a 7.75% increase, according to the 2015 Monterey County Crop report county Agricultural Commissioner Eric Lauritzen presented at its annual news conference on Tuesday.

Key representatives of the county’s agriculture organizations including the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, the Farm Bureau, The Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association (MCVGA) and the California Strawberry Commission also attended.

OPINION: California needs action now on groundwater protection

As if California’s water supplies weren’t already sufficiently imperiled, a bill that would have taken a small step toward groundwater regulation unfortunately has now stalled.

Sen. Lois Wolk’s Senate Bill 1317 would have slowed the speed at which new wells are drilled, and denied permits for wells in critically overdrafted basins until groundwater regulations begin to take effect in 2022. But it ran into opposition from agricultural interests and local government agencies.

Water agencies and farmers should recognize the urgent need to better manage the overuse of this precious resource.

Summer of Fire: Drought Transforms Southern Sierra

It was revealed in June that California’s southern Sierra Nevada is now stocked with an estimated 66 million dead trees, all killed directly or indirectly by the state’s ongoing drought.

The number is staggering and difficult to comprehend. Even more difficult is understanding what it means. In short, the southern Sierra – the highest section of California’s majestic mountain range – is undergoing ecological changes on a scale never seen before in human history. The estimate was obtained by the U.S. Forest Service using surveys conducted during airplane flights over the range.

Top ten water wise trees for San Diego

It’s something that’s in the news a lot these days: Water-wise landscaping. But what exactly does that mean for San Diegans and how do you know what plants will work for this kind of gardening?

Recently, the San Diego County Water Authority updated its informative brochure, “Nifty 50 Plants for WaterSmart Landscapes,” which is packed with information about a variety of plants and trees that will work in San Diego’s drought environment. The best part is that the brochure is available for free at

Water Restrictions Easing, but the Idea of “Green” Has Changed for Some

Just in time for hot summer days, the Yorba Linda Water District is easing up on watering restrictions.

State officials have scraped the emergency conservation mandates that had forced the district to cut water use by 36 percent. For months, customers have faced unprecedented restrictions and “administrative penalties” for over use. In response to the state’s step back, the district is allowing customers to increase watering from two to three days a week. Filling swimming pools will no longer be prohibited, district spokesman Damon Micalizzi said.

Newport Moves Toward Allowing a Third Day of Watering Per Week

Newport Beach water customers soon may be allowed to irrigate outdoors three days a week instead of two, but still will be required to conserve.

The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to take initial steps to move the city to Level 2 of its water conservation plan, which restricts outdoor watering to before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. but allows ratepayers to irrigate their lawns three days per week from April through October. Outdoor watering from November through March would be restricted to one day per week.

California Water Projects to Receive WaterSMART Grants for 2016

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded more than $25.6 million in WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants to support projects that increase water and energy conservation and efficiency, protect endangered species or address climate-related impacts on water.

A total of 53 projects in 11 states will receive the FY 2016 grants. Those states include California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Floating Solar: A Win-Win for Drought-Stricken Lakes in U.S.

The Colorado River’s two great reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are in retreat. Multi-year droughts and chronic overuse have taken their toll, to be sure, but vast quantities of water are also lost to evaporation. What if the same scorching sun that causes so much of this water loss were harnessed for electric power?

Installing floating solar photovoltaic arrays, sometimes called “floatovoltaics,” on a portion of these two reservoirs in the southwestern United States could produce clean, renewable energy while shielding significant expanses of water from the hot desert sun.

The Future of Water Utilities: Exciting and Unfunded

Hello, and welcome to another episode of our environmental policy podcast, Parts Per Billion. This is where we chat with reporters and newsmakers to bring you the stories behind our stories.

Today we bring you the first of a two-part conversation between George Hawkins, head of the local water utility here in Washington, and Bloomberg BNA water policy reporter Amena Saiyid.


Are Dead Trees a Threat?

There are now 66 million dead trees in California’s forests due to several years of drought and native bark beetles, creating a “catastrophic” wildfire threat – or so claims U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. While Vilsack’s assertion may resonate with many in the general public because it makes intuitive sense, it simply isn’t true.

Among scientists, there is an overwhelming consensus that weather (hot, dry, windy conditions) determines how wildland fires behave, not the density of dead trees or “snags.”