No rain or snow in January and February certainly added to the drought in California. L.A. Times reporter Ian James reported on Feb. 24 that many farmers in the federal Central Valley Project will not receive water from the federal system this year. In mid-February, the federal Bureau of Reclamation announced a zero-water allocation for many irrigation districts that supply farmers throughout the Central Valley. Makes one wonder: Where our food will be grown?
James also reported that cities that receive water from the federal project in the Central Valley and “parts of the Bay Area were allocated 25 percent of their historical water use.”
Statewide, the drought is an alarming problem, and our local elected officials are speaking out within their areas of influence.
I received a press release from our Dist. 1 Assemblywoman Megan Dahle, who sits on the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. The committee convened in mid-February and she spoke out about the problem rural North State farmers and ranchers face with unreliable water availability. She also reasoned the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act must be flexible, especially in the different regions throughout the state. “One size does not fit all,” she explained.
Dahle noted that the 2014 Water Bond was passed in an effort to combat California’s massive droughts. The Water Bond was expected to increase water storage, both in surface reservoirs and underground water storage. These water projects have not happened. She told the committee that building these infrastructure projects “must be a priority.”
Dahle also brought to light that new costs being imposed by the state will be an “additional burden for exhausted farmers‚ while illegal pot growers continually get away with flouting the rules. This has to change.”
So, following today’s theme of water and drought, I will jump to Dist. 1 Congressman Doug LaMalfa, who is working with several other congressmen to influence the federal Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources. LaMalfa led the small California Republican group in sending a letter requesting a more flexible water operation for this 2022 water year.
In a press release I received, LaMalfa said: “Despite heavy storms in Northern California this December, state water storage levels are still well below their annual average. Lake Shasta is 580,000 acre-feet short of its storage total on this date last year and remains at 37% of total capacity and 52% of historical average.
“Lake Oroville is at 47% capacity, nearly 2 million acre-feet short of its storage total. I urge the DWR and Reclamation to quickly resubmit a TUCP to the State Water Board. This issue can’t wait. We must conserve the limited water supply we do have before regulators needlessly send the water to the ocean without any benefit to humans or species. With water levels this low we need to conserve every drop. Everyone is going to be affected by the lack of water and we can’t waste it hoping more miraculously shows up.”
LaMalfa referred to a TUCP, which is a Temporary Urgency Change Petition utilized by the state and federal water agencies.
Upcoming wildfire season
Last week, California Congressmen Doug LaMalfa and Tom McClintock introduced legislation directing the U.S. Forest Service to immediately suppress wildfires on National Forest System lands and to put an end to the policy of letting fires burn.
Hmmm … this would certainly be welcome in communities threatened by wildfires.
LaMalfa said: “The days of ‘monitoring’ fires must end — Northern California is burning up at a record rate. The Forest Service’s monitoring policy and ‘watch and wait’ has allowed multiple catastrophic fires to unnecessarily escalate and devastate our wildlands and rural towns.
“In 24 hours, what starts out as a small blaze can expand to consume thousands of homes, municipal facilities and businesses. Drought-stricken, unmanaged, overgrown forests are a ticking time bomb for another massive fire. In addition to aggressive initial attacks on fires, we must properly manage our forests by thinning near towns and infrastructure, clear a wider buffer zone around power lines, as well as use roads as firebreaks. Our forests are overgrown, the long-term solution is to return to proper management and aggressively thin them.”
I really liked LaMalfa’s final statement: “Why is America the number 2 importer of wood, while our own forests burn to the ground — causing untold damage to families, pollution that chokes half the country and destroying the environment?”
Sure do hope this legislation moves forward and quickly!
May peace and calm be with you this week. Smile – just cuz it makes you feel better!