Ag Today July 9, 2021

Governor asks Californians to voluntarily cut water use [Associated Press]

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday asked people and businesses in the nation’s most populous state to voluntarily cut how much water they use by 15% as the Western United States weathers a drought that is rapidly emptying reservoirs relied on for agriculture, drinking water and fish habitat. The water conservation is not mandatory, but it demonstrates the growing challenges of a drought that will only worsen throughout the summer and fall and is tied to more intense wildfires and heat waves….California’s most important reservoirs are already at dangerously low levels and will likely reach historic lows later this year. Lake Oroville in Northern California is at 30% capacity, and state officials worry water levels could get so low they might have to shut down a hydroelectric plant later this year. Along the Russian River, officials fear Lake Mendocino could empty later this year.


Sacramento, Central Valley felt earthquake longer and stronger than others. Here’s why [Sacramento Bee]

Thursday’s magnitude-6.0 earthquake in Central California appeared to many residents to be stronger and last longer than others in past years, but the quake was not unusual or necessarily a sign of bigger things to come, California’s acting state geologist said. “The earthquake was relatively deep, not exceptionally deep, but it was on the deep side,” Steve Bohlen said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee. “An earthquake at this size at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles) is going to cause light to moderate shaking over a broad area….Bohlen said the quake, dubbed the Antelope Valley Earthquake, was felt over “a fairly broad area,” with U.S. Geological Survey maps showing it extending as far south to Monterey Bay, north to the far northern reaches of the Central Valley and into Nevada. Self-reported data to the USGS showed residents of Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Reno and Grass Valley also felt shaking.


Commentary: To beat climate change, rural farming needs to head north [Visalia Times Delta]

Twenty-five years ago, at age 18, I followed my uncle to the top of Mount Lassen for a 10,000-foot view of Northern California’s Fourth of July fireworks….The Lassen Ski Area resort, where my professional ski bum uncle originally took up the sport, had closed in 1993, in part because of poor snowfall….Water is life, the saying goes, but snow is prosperity. California’s annual agricultural output is approximately $50 billion, or just 2 percent of the state’s GDP. Yet, the state’s agricultural industry uses 80 percent of its annual water supply. Our agricultural brethren have fed a lot of people with crops grown with that water. But this whole venture presumes water supply stability courtesy of the Cascade-Sierra snowpack. But for how much longer? Our warmer and drier climate reduces the snowpack’s historically ample “excess” water that trickles down to streams, lakes, and rivers each summer. Record low reservoir levels threaten idle hydroelectric dams like Lake Oroville and may contribute to rolling blackouts this summer….Managed retreat also needs to be on the table for the San Joaquin Valley, where the water situation ceased being sustainable some time ago. Several local communities lack safe drinking water, and pumped-in groundwater is causing the land itself to sink, in some places up to 28 feet. Managed retreat would make more sense than anything we’re doing now. We must start encouraging and incentivizing people and farms in drought-stricken regions dependent on water transfers to migrate somewhere more hospitable to agriculture and other forms of human development.


Firefighters fear disaster ahead as heat transforms landscape: ‘The driest I’ve ever seen.’ [Los Angeles Times]

…“My first winter here, I was burning piles in thigh-deep snow,” said Christian Bauzo, a firefighter who has been with the Forest Service for 15 years. “Now it’s like, ‘What winter?’ Almost all winter we were fighting fire.” Bauzo and his crew now respond to at least two wildfires a week. And because it keeps getting hotter, and the landscape has shifted and the dangers have increased, they are having to change how they approach the flames….A century of fire suppression has created a buildup of fuel, while decades of population growth and development have formed new obstacles. And from the ongoing drought to more frequent heat waves, the approach to wildfire management and strategy has had to evolve with the times.

Southern California firefighters confront changing landscape – Los Angeles Times (


Newsom declares drought emergency for Marin County [Marin Independent Journal]

…“I think it’s important the state has now recognized the very dire situation that the county finds itself in like so much of the rest of the state,” said Cynthia Koehler, board president of the Marin Municipal Water District. “I think it sends an even more clear message than we had before, and we’re really looking forward to partnering with Gov. Newsom and his administration.” While it is unclear what kind of resources or financial aid Marin could receive under the designation, it does allow for special considerations to be made for options such as a temporary reduction in dam water releases into Lagunitas Creek that benefit endangered fish. The Marin Municipal Water District, which serves 191,000 residents in central and southern Marin, is studying this option to stretch out the supplies of its shrinking reservoirs, which could be depleted by next summer if dry conditions persist. Newsom’s drought emergency declaration — the third since April — now applies to 50 of the 58 counties in the state. Marin was one of nine counties added on Thursday, along with Inyo, Mono, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz.

Newsom declares drought emergency for Marin County (


Stanislaus County Fair opens Friday. Here’s how it’s different this year as COVID wanes [Modesto Bee]

…No carnival rides or concerts are on the schedule, stretching over the next three weekends in Turlock. But the arena will roar with motor sports, and food booths will serve up VFW burgers and other favorites. Out in the livestock area Wednesday, 4-H and FFA members were already preparing for dairy cattle judging and auctions. These were online last year because of COVID-19….“You don’t get the (usual) attractions, but you get to have the kids experience the fair with their projects,” said Sarah Barcellos of Newman. Her daughter Marlayna and son Raylen both have 4-H cattle entries.

Stanislaus County Fair in Turlock CA to open after COVID-19 | Modesto Bee (


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