Ag Today December 13, 2018

State water board demands more water for fish [Los Angeles Times]

In an unprecedented step, state regulators Wednesday adopted standards that would force San Francisco and several big San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts to give some of their river supplies back to the environment. But they also left the door open to agreements that would significantly undercut those flow requirements — underscoring the winding path that marks any significant change in California water policy. The vote by the State Water Resources Control Board is by no means the final say on the matter. Settlement discussions will continue next year. And water users have vowed to challenge the flow mandates in court.


Westlands’ role in Shasta Dam-raising project takes a beating in Redding [Redding Record Searchlight]

A water district that provides irrigation to San Joaquin Valley farmers heard mostly negative comments in Redding on Wednesday about its role in the ongoing proposal to raise the height of Shasta Dam….The purpose of the project is to ensure survival of salmon living downstream of the dam and to stabilize the supply of water in Lake Shasta and downstream of the dam, said Mary Paasch, vice president of Stantec, the consultant hired to write an environmental impact report on the project. But most of those who spoke about the project Wednesday felt Westlands, long a controversial player in state water politics, has ulterior motives for wanting to build the project.


Southwestern US states close to sealing drought deal [Associated Press]

Water managers from seven Southwestern states that depend on the Colorado River for drinking and irrigation water are getting closer to finalizing an unprecedented drought contingency plan they may have to enact in 2020, officials said Thursday….A pact was supposed to be signed by the end of 2018, under threat that the bureau that controls the water distribution levers on the river would impose its own restrictions affecting drinking water to 40 million people and irrigation for crops in arid parts of U.S. and Mexico. Arizona and Nevada would be the first states to feel the pinch if a shortage is declared as expected next year. Supplies to California also could be curtailed.


Why the farm bill matters to Californians [McClatchy News Service]

California agriculture interests will find the farm bill Congress passed this week largely means more of the same….Some of the bill’s provisions, such as forest management to prevent wildfires and work requirements for those who receive aid to buy food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, held up passage of the bill for months. But bill is full of far less controversial points that are vitally important to Californians that had farmers on edge as the bill languished in congressional limbo.


Trump administration signals support for Point Reyes ranching bill [Marin Independent Journal]

The Trump administration signaled its support Wednesday for Rep. Jared Huffman’s controversial bill to extend the leases of several historic Point Reyes National Seashore ranches. Huffman, D-San Rafael, said with the end of the congressional session looming, the Senate’s intent may be to adopt an end-of-year public lands legislative package in which his bill could be included….Wednesday was the first time Huffman’s bill has been taken up in the Senate since the legislation passed in a unanimous vote in the House in late September.