It was a match made in heaven, at least for the residents of Los Angeles, but it will soon be coming to an end. For around 20 years, Los Angeles has shipped a large portion of “biosolids” from its toilets to fertilize a farm it owns just west of Bakersfield. Bakersfield, in return, has been providing an annual load of 18,000 acre-feet of free water to the farm, Green Acres, in a deal that was meant to benefit both cities. However, Bakersfield is choosing not to renew the water contract with LA, and the farm will have to find another source to irrigate its crops.
We know that climate change is going to alter wine. In fact, we know that it already has. But we are still working toward a deeper understanding of what it will look like — and what can be done about it. The latest step toward that understanding is a study published Tuesday by the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the most detailed forecasts to date of extreme heat across the U.S. As The Chronicle’s environmental correspondent Kurtis Alexander reported, the study warns that most of the country will see more than double the number of days with a 100 degree heat index by 2050, unless something drastic is done.
Agricultural water suppliers must develop annual water budgets and drought plans that meet requirements of recently enacted legislation, and are meeting with state officials to comply with the updated law—a process that could ultimately affect water costs for California farmers and ranchers.
A California water district developed a groundwater trading project that could help farmers in the area with state restrictions for over pumping groundwater aquifers.
A new study will explore the viability of a regional pipeline to transfer water from the Colorado River to benefit multiple users in San Diego County and across the Southwest.
The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors approved funds for the two-year study at its June 27 Board meeting. The pipeline system is one of a handful of ideas being discussed by San Diego County water leaders to enhance partnerships and solutions that make sense locally and more broadly as part of Governor Newsom’s Water Portfolio Program to develop resiliency statewide.
The Water Authority’s upcoming study will look at a regional conveyance system that could move Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) transfer water directly between the Imperial Valley and San Diego. The Colorado River Aqueduct currently conveys the QSA water through Riverside County before it flows to San Diego.
“It may be an idea whose time has come,” said Erik Ortega, president of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors, referring to a proposed regional conveyance system.
Creating a pipeline to transfer Colorado River water to the San Diego region has been studied periodically over decades.
But the new study is focused on how a regional pipeline could provide multiple benefits as part of a long-term water management strategy for California and the Southwest.
The expanded review will consider a system that could create much-needed storage opportunities for the IID that could support agriculture while addressing critical issues like the Salton Sea and the need for more renewable energy development.
Three pipeline routes
The pipeline under study would be designed at a capacity to convey the QSA water, which in 2021 will reach its full amount of 280,000 acre-feet of water annually. The current Water Transfer Agreement between IID and the Water Authority continues to 2047. But both agencies can agree to extend the transfer another 30 years to 2077.
As the study gets under way, there are three routes under consideration. Each of those routes would connect to the tail end of the All-American Canal where it meets the Westside Main Canal in the southwest corner of the Imperial Valley.
Two of the routes would follow a southern corridor between the Imperial Valley and San Diego, with one route over the mountains paralleling the U.S./Mexico border and the other tunneling underneath the mountains. Both routes would lead to the San Vicente Reservoir in San Diego.
The third and northernmost route would follow the Westside Main Canal toward the Salton Sea, then flow past Borrego Springs, and through the mountains. It would eventually connect to the Water Authority’s Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant in San Marcos.
Growing water-intensive crops like avocados in San Diego County is no small feat. Producing avocados requires the use of innovative farming methods to supply the trees with enough water.
It’s the use of innovative farming methods that earned John Burr the title of San Diego County’s Farmer of the Year – an honor he recently celebrated on KUSI-TV with Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer as part of the agency’s Brought to You by Water outreach and education program.
Innovative farming methods
Over the past few months, the Water Authority partnered with local agriculture industry leaders like the San Diego County Farm Bureau to highlight the importance of safe and reliable water supplies for more than 5,500 local farms that are part of the county’s $4.8 billion agriculture industry.
Local farmers like Burr are invaluable in growing the agricultural bounty that sustains 3.3 million residents and the region’s quality of life.
Found in everything from tacos to smoothies to toast, avocados have become a staple in California cuisine and, with only about 10 inches of annual rainfall in the San Diego region, it takes innovation and technology to grow the popular fruit.
Technology saves water
For decades, Burr has been perfecting the operations on his Escondido farm, using state-of-the-art technology like the California Irrigation Management Information System. Two different satellite systems allow him to regulate irrigation by zones to determine precise water amounts to prevent using too much or too little water on his trees.
Satellites collect data, which Burr then analyzes with spreadsheets to determine how many gallons of water each tree requires. Every bit of data collected, from water usage to atmospheric conditions to soil type, allows Burr and his team to streamline their operations to be even more water-efficient.
“In San Diego County, we have to get the most out of our crops with the least amount of water,” said Burr, who irrigates his farm with water from the City of Escondido. “When the weather varies with changing seasons or fluctuating weather patterns, providing the right amount of water at the right time is paramount to using water efficiently. These technologies provide the information and tools that allow us to do that consistently, and ensure our crops grow successfully.”
Efficient land use conserves water
Those who see Burr’s farm may also notice another difference from the typical avocado farm, which is that his groves are designed for high-density planting.
“A typical avocado grove can have about 100 trees, but ours have about 400 in the same area of land. This cuts our water usage in half,” he said.
Each tree is also limited in height to prevent water loss through transpiration. This is especially important in a region like San Diego County, where temperatures can rise quickly on summer days.
The San Diego County Water Authority has partnered with San Diego singer and guitarist Jon Foreman of Switchfoot to create a series of videos highlighting the value of water to the region’s economy and quality of life.
From sustaining world-famous tourist destinations to making world-class guitars, the San Diego lifestyle wouldn’t be possible without clean and reliable water supplies delivered by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies.
“It takes a huge investment from the San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies to maintain the pipes that deliver water across our region,” Foreman says in one of the videos.
Reliable water supply fuels San Diego economy
The video series includes virtual tours of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir, and the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon.
Foreman talks with Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., about the importance of water to some of the region’s biggest industries.
He also tours the Water Conservation Garden, where residents and businesses can learn how to use water efficiently and “make the most out of every drop.”
BRO-AM brought to you by water
The Water Authority is sponsoring Switchfoot’s annual BRO-AM beach festival, which is set for June 29 at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas.
The Water Authority’s Brought to You by Water outreach and education program is designed to convey the importance of safe and reliable water supplies for sustaining the region’s 3.3 million people and its $231 billion economy.
Starting in 2018, the Water Authority has highlighted some of the region’s core industries – tourism, manufacturing, brewing and agriculture – that would not exist without substantial investments in water supply reliability by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies.
More than 260 photos were submitted during May as part of the “San Diego Grown Photo Contest” highlighting how safe and reliable water supplies fuel the region’s thriving agriculture industry. The San Diego County Water Authority hosted the social media contest during Water Awareness Month.
The contest highlights the significance of agriculture to the regional economy. As one of the nation’s top producers of avocados, ornamental trees and shrubs, flowers, succulents, lemons, and other agricultural products, San Diego County farms cover approximately 250,000 acres and generate $4.8 billion in total annual economic activity.
Photos were posted to Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #B2UbyH2O and came from home gardens, local farms, community gardens and farmers’ markets throughout the region.
One participant on Instagram thanked the Water Authority, posting this comment: “Things like these are what bring Communities together and brings awareness to the importance of water in our lives!”
Contest ‘Brought To You By Water’
The San Diego Grown Photo Contest was part of the Water Authority’s ongoing Brought to You by Water outreach and education program, designed to convey the importance of water supply reliability for sustaining the region’s 3.3 million people and its $231 billion economy. The Water Authority and its 24 member agencies work together to meet current and future water demands, while promoting water-use efficiency.
Over the past year, the Water Authority has highlighted an array of the region’s core industries – including tourism, manufacturing and brewing – that would not exist without substantial investments in water supply reliability by the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies.
Those industries provide tens of thousands of jobs that help make San Diego County universally regarded as one of the best places to live. The regional economy is made possible, in part, by continued investments in the pumps, pipes, projects and people who deliver more than 450,000 acre-feet of water per year for everything from washing hotel towels and growing avocados to brewing craft beer and building ships.
That's a wrap! Thank you to everyone who participated in the San Diego Grown Photo Contest and for supporting San Diego's local agriculture industry! Here's a look at some of our favorite photos. #B2UbyH2O 📸 🍋 🌺 pic.twitter.com/1L9Xgby40H
— San Diego County Water Authority (@sdcwa) June 3, 2019
Follow #B2UbyH2O on Instagram and Twitter to see all the photos.
Growers of grapes, tree nuts, and cranberries got good news from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday morning. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide up to $16 billion in aid to farmers impacted by the tariff battle with Chinainitiated by President Donald Trump. A statement from the USDA said that Trump authorized the aid, which is a $4 billion bump from last year. “The plan we are announcing today ensures farmers do not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners,” Perdue said.
Angry residents shouted, cursed and booed the Oceanside City Council after its 3-2 vote Wednesday to again postpone a decision on whether Integral Communities should be allowed to build hundreds of homes, a hotel and retail shops in the city’s last remaining agricultural region. The city’s planning staff and Planning Commission have three times recommended the council deny the North River Farms project, most recently on a 6-0 vote May 6. Each time, the developer has subsequently pulled the project off a City Council agenda to rework it in hopes of getting an approval. “Please do not postpone this,” said resident Jane Marshall before Wednesday’s decision.