ELLEN HANAK: Water and the Future of the San Joaquin Valley

Ellen Hanak delivers four priorities for managing the implementation of SGMA in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley is California’s largest agricultural region and an important contributor to the nation’s food supply, producing more than half of the state’s agricultural output.  Irrigated agriculture is the region’s main economic driver and predominant water user.

However, the San Joaquin Valley is at a pivotal point. It is ground zero for many of California’s most difficult water management problems, including groundwater overdraft, contaminated drinking water, and declines in habitat and native species.  The Valley has high rates of unemployment and pockets of extreme poverty, challenges that increase when the farm economy suffers.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires local water users to bring their overdrafted groundwater basins into balance by the early 2040s.  With the largest groundwater overdraft in the State, the implementation of SGMA will have a broad impact on Valley agriculture in coming years, and will likely entail fallowing of significant amounts of farmland.

Water and the Future of the San Joaquin Valley” is the third installment of a research project by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) Water Policy Center on solutions to the San Joaquin Valley’s water challenges. Ellen Hanak is director of the PPIC Water Policy Center and a senior fellow at PPIC. At the May meeting of the California Water Commission, she discussed the findings of their research and recommendations regarding the challenges facing the San Joaquin Valley.

Click here to read this article at Maven’s Notebook.

Regional sustainable groundwater management forum hosted in Corning

 “Tehama and Butte counties teamed up Friday to host a Northern Sacramento Valley forum on sustainable groundwater held at Rolling Hills Casino. 

The event was a collaboration between the Tehama County UC Cooperative Extension and Butte County Department of Water and Resource Conservation.  Allan Fulton, a Tehama County farm advisor, served as moderator. … ”

Read more from the Daily News here:  Regional sustainable groundwater management forum hosted in Corning

Water Planners Share SGMA Strategies

“Water planners and stakeholders from across the state convened in West Sacramento recently for the Department of Water Resources’ Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) Forum to share experiences and ideas as they implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Office hosted the event on March 21, 2019, to assist GSAs as they plan for sustainability and to encourage stakeholder engagement and GSA coordination and collaboration within basins and between adjacent basins. … ”

Read more from DWR News here:  Water Planners Share SGMA Strategies

As Deadline Looms for California’s Badly Overdrafted Groundwater Basins, Kern County Seeks a Balance to Keep Farms Thriving

“Groundwater helped make Kern County the king of California agricultural production, with a $7 billion annual array of crops that help feed the nation. That success has come at a price, however, as decades of unchecked groundwater pumping in the county and elsewhere in California have left some aquifers severely depleted.

Now, the county’s water managers have less than a year left to devise a plan that manages and protects groundwater for the long term yet ensures that Kern County’s economy can continue to thrive, even with less water. … ”

Read more from Western Water here:  As Deadline Looms for California’s Badly Overdrafted Groundwater Basins, Kern County Seeks a Balance to Keep Farms Thriving

Video for DWR Groundwater Sustainability Agency Forum Now Available

The video recording of the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) Forum is now available on the department’s website.

DWR hosted the Forum on March 21, 2019, as part of its assistance role in the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

The Forum brought representatives from GSAs and stakeholders from across the state together to highlight their efforts, facilitate the exchange of ideas, establish professional networks, and foster successful stakeholder engagement.

Click below to view the following:

For questions, email sgmps@water.ca.gov.

How does SGMA affect Glenn County?

“A California law that passed in 2014 gave local control to agencies to manage their groundwater.  The Glenn Groundwater Authority – created in 2017 – is an agency that was formed under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to regulate groundwater at a local level.

“The last thing anybody wants is more regulation, I get that,” said Dave Ceppos, program manager for SGMA, during a public workshop on the law on Thursday. “… What SGMA did was gave over a huge amount of local control.” … ”

Read more from the Glenn County Transcript here:  How does SGMA affect Glenn County?

From California to Central India: Implementing Water Stewardship at the Local Level

“From a young age, most people know the basic requirements of planting: seeds, soil, sunlight and water. Farming and water, specifically freshwater, are intrinsically linked. Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of global freshwater withdrawals, according to the World Bank.

In its 2018 Global Responsibility Report, food company General Mills identified water risk as a material issue and pledged to champion the “activation of stewardship plans in its priority watersheds across its global value chain.

Jeff Hanratty, applied sustainability manager for General Mills, spoke with TriplePundit about the company’s efforts to identify and address key water risks related to agricultural production. He began by explaining how the organization created its focus on priority watersheds. … ”

Read more from Triple Pundit here:  From California to Central India: Implementing Water Stewardship at the Local Level

A winning approach for managing groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley

Alvar Escriva-Bou, Ellen Hanak, and Josué Medellín-Azuara write,

“The San Joaquin Valley is in a time of great change. Decades of groundwater overuse have caused drinking water and irrigation wells to go dry, increased the amount of energy required to pump water, harmed ecosystems, and reduced the reserves available to cope with future droughts.

Groundwater overdraft has also caused land to sink, damaging major regional infrastructure, including canals that deliver water across the state.  These problems spurred the enactment of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which requires local water users across California to bring groundwater use to sustainable levels by the early 2040s.

With California’s largest groundwater deficit, the San Joaquin Valley is ground zero for implementing SGMA. … ”

Read more from the PPIC blog here:  A winning approach for managing groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley

Dozens attend special Paso Basin Cooperative Committee meeting

“About 60 people turned out Wednesday afternoon at the Paso Library Conference Room for a special meeting of the Paso Basin Cooperative Committee.

The committee includes Chairperson John Hamon, (who requested a new chair be elected at the next meeting), Joe Parent of San Miguel, Vice Chair and County Supervisor John Peschong and Secretary Willy Cunha of Shandon-San Juan.

Those committee members all attended yesterday, although John Hamon left early to attend Ash Wednesday ceremonies, so alternate committee member Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin filled in for the latter part of the meeting. … ”

Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here:  Dozens attend special Paso Basin Cooperative Committee meeting

After local outcry, a Harvard-owned vineyard project faces environmental review

“California farmer Brenton Kelly still remembers how the Cuyama Valley used to be.  The valley, located in California’s Central Coast region, has long been home to an abundance of wildlife.

Historically, the land has been used for cattle pastures, and featured “beautiful rolling grassy hill” and an “amazing wildflower show,” according to Kelly.  These days, however, the land has been taken over by large commercial farms and vineyards, Kelly said. … ”

Read more from the Harvard Crimson here:  After local outcry, a Harvard-owned vineyard project faces environmental review