California Farm Bureau Reports Anxiety Grows Over Colorado River Crisis

Imperial Valley farmers who have senior water rights on the severely depleted Colorado River say emergency water delivery cuts ordered last week by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation do not go far enough to achieve the agency’s goal of conserving water for the river’s future sustainability.

The new restrictions aren’t directed at agriculture in the Imperial Valley. Yet fears mount that farmers, who are already cutting back their water use, could lose critical irrigation supplies if an accord on 2023 water diversions isn’t reached for multiple states and agencies relying on the river.

$1T Infrastructure Bill Benefits Valley AG and Rural Communities

The California Farm Bureau is applauding Congress for passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, commending the benefits it extends to local agriculture and rural communities.
The one trillion dollar plan passed by congress late Friday night is set to fund improvement projects across the country and projected to create some 2 million jobs.

Drought Exposes Need to Upgrade Water Facilities

Severe drought highlights the need for greater investment to improve aging California water facilities, and increases calls for allocation of federal and state resources to tackle the problem.

A national coalition that includes the California Farm Bureau urged U.S. Senate leaders last week to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure, and to include “a broad range of water uses” in any federal infrastructure legislation. At the same time, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislators plan to invest at least $5 billion to address critical water needs.

Coalition Seeks Water Funding in Infrastructure Bill

Describing federal investment in Western water management as “essential,” a coalition of more than 200 organizations has urged the incoming Biden administration and the new Congress to include water facilities in any future infrastructure or economic-recovery package. The coalition, including a number of national and regional organizations plus farm groups and water districts from 15 states, sent separate letters last week to President-elect Biden and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate.

Ongoing Litigation Muddies State’s Water Outlook

Amid long-term forecasts indicating California could be headed into another dry winter, discussions at the California Farm Bureau Annual Meeting focused on current and future water policy and the challenges facing short- and long-term supplies.

During a breakout session as part of the virtual Annual Meeting, Ernest Conant, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation regional director for the California-Great Basin Region, described how regulatory constraints have affected water allocations from the federal Central Valley Project.

Calif. Farm Bureau President Says Farmworker Safety is Priority

As California’s agricultural industry faces an estimated $6-8 billion loss this year due to the pandemic, farmers and ranchers say they’re working hard to keep the food supply steady and safe.

Water Portfolio Lays Out State’s Long-Term Plans

Farm organizations welcomed a new water planning document from state agencies while they analyzed the document’s proposed strategies.

Titled the California Water Resilience Portfolio and released last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration described the document as an effort to guide water management in a way that works for people, the environment and the economy.

Year Starts With New-Average Snow, Storage

A wet December has left its mark in the mountains, and many of the state’s reservoirs remain at or above average storage levels as 2020 begins.

The state Department of Water Resources took its first snow survey of the year at Phillips Station in El Dorado County last week, and found 33.5 inches of snow and a snow-water equivalent of 11 inches, about 97% of average for the location. Statewide, DWR found a snow-water equivalent of 9.3 inches, or 90% of average.

Balancing Water Supply for All is 2020 Priority, California Farm Bureau Federation Says

California water policy leaders say balancing the supply of groundwater by implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, and addressing policies related to water supply and water quality, will continue to be priority issues in 2020.

Agricultural Water Agencies Refine Efficiency Plans

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.