A vote on water storage may be near [Southern California News Group]
A proposed ballot measure would force the state to dedicate 2% of the general fund to building more water storage for California’s urban areas and farms. The Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022 would require the transfer of the funds into a trust account every year until the projects funded by the account have created an additional 5 million acre-feet of additional water supply that can be reliably delivered to Californians every year thereafter. A proposed ballot measure would force the state to dedicate 2% of the general fund to building more water storage for California’s urban areas and farms. The Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022 would require the transfer of the funds into a trust account every year until the projects funded by the account have created an additional 5 million acre-feet of additional water supply that can be reliably delivered to Californians every year thereafter.
‘It’s not science fiction’: New East Bay facility producing lab-grown meat plans to produce 400,000 pounds per year [San Francisco Chronicle]
A huge facility designed to produce hundreds of thousands of pounds of cultured meat opened Thursday in Emeryville — a significant step forward in a nascent yet rapidly growing industry where meat is grown from animal cells without any need for slaughter. The facility, part of a new, $50 million, 53,000-square-foot campus for Berkeley food tech company Upside Foods, is billed as the first of its kind in the world and ready for commercial scale. While other companies have made cultured meat, also known as cultivated meat or lab-grown meat, they’ve typically worked out of smaller laboratories. The U.S. government still hasn’t approved the sale of cultivated meat, but Upside Foods Chief Operating Officer Amy Chen said the new facility is proof that the technology is ready. Until the meat is legal to sell, the company will be hosting tours and testing products. After introducing the meat to the public through chefs, the next move is into grocery stores — similar to the rollout followed by Impossible Foods, the Redwood City maker of the convincingly beefy burgers made from soybeans. Unlike plant-based meats, cultivated meat is actually animal-based, fleshy meat.
Column: Vaccination victories in California’s vegetable valleys [Zócalo Public Square]
If demography really was COVID destiny, then Gonzales — a small, working-class town with a young, Latino population in rural California — would be a pandemic disaster. Instead, Gonzales is among California’s most vaccinated places. In this Salinas Valley town of 9,000, 98% of eligible residents have received at least one dose. Gonzales is part of a larger, unexpected success story around vaccination in the state’s two leading agricultural areas for lettuce and green vegetables — the Salinas Vallley and Imperial Valley. North of Gonzales, the city of Salinas also boasts a vaccination rate above 90%, well above the statewide average and the rate on the Monterey Peninsula. Down on the U.S.-Mexico border, Imperial County is the most vaccinated place in the state’s southern half, as CalMatters first noted. Imperial boasts an 86% vaccination rate (on at least one dose) — 10 points higher than L.A. and Orange counties, and 20-plus points above San Bernardino and Riverside counties. So, what explains the success of these two valleys in inoculating younger Latinos working in essential industries — the very demographic the rest of the state struggles to vaccinate? The answers start with vegetables. Salinas and Imperial Valleys share networks of growers, and workers who operate in Salinas through summer, and Imperial (and neighboring Yuma, Arizona) in winter. These workers were among the hardest hit by the first wave of COVID-19 last spring. But, after the early months of the pandemic, agricultural networks in the two valleys rallied in a big way.
Editorial: PG&E has destroyed enough California communities. It’s time for a public takeover [Sacramento Bee]
What will it take to finally end PG&E’s criminal negligence? How many more acres burned, how many more homes and businesses destroyed, how many more lives lost to decaying infrastructure and the profit motive? This year’s Dixie Fire, which may have been caused by PG&E’s equipment, is the state’s second-largest wildfire on record. The company is suspected of causing not only the Dixie Fire but also the Fly Fire, which later merged with the larger blaze. The 2018 Camp Fire, caused by aging, failing infrastructure in the same county where Dixie would burn just three years later, remains the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history. By August, PG&E was already suspected of starting at least 16 major wildfires, matching 2020’s total with months yet to go in the fire season. This week, the utility revealed in a quarterly report that the Dixie Fire is under federal investigation and expected to cost the company upward of $1.5 billion. PG&E’s private ownership, toxic corporate culture and inability to change should have forced the state’s hand years ago. Instead, political inertia has led to more death and destruction. It’s clear now, if it wasn’t then, that bailing out the company was a grave error. One way or another, the governor, the Legislature and utility regulators have to ensure that a public takeover process begins. It’s time to end PG&E as we know it.
How test plots in Modesto-area almond orchard will help effort to improve soil [Modesto Bee]
Farmers and scientists gathered at an almond orchard southwest of Modesto to help launch the Better Soil Alliance. Research plots on the 40 acres off Grayson Road are part of the effort to sustain the earth that grows the area’s top-grossing crop. The alliance was started by Yara, a fertilizer supplier founded in Norway in 1905, and Heliae, a newer company that focuses on microbial health, based in Gilbert, Arizona. The partners talked about the alliance during a mid-October event at the site, dubbed the Yara Incubator Farm. “We really want to build this into a center of excellence of learning,” said Debbie Watts, vice president at Yara North America. The research orchard was planted in 2014 and is approaching its peak productivity for almonds. The 2021 trials involved Yara fertilizers delivered in varying amounts, compared with a “baseline” block of trees, manager Devin Clarke said. The top performers were Yara-enriched trees that yielded 14% more crop than the baseline, he said. This block also had the lowest percentage of defective nuts and the highest water use efficiency. All this translated to a 13% higher return on investment. That could impress the Central Valley growers who produce the vast majority of the world’s almonds.
The atmospheric river’s likely coming, but may bypass the San Francisco Bay Area [San Francisco Chronicle]
Meteorologists are closely watching weather models to track a moisture-rich storm that’s expected to reach the West Coast early next week, potentially Tuesday into Wednesday. Roger Gass, a forecaster with the weather service’s Bay Area office, said there’s still a lot of unknown with this event. “The models haven’t come into focus,” Gass said. “We’re going to see chances of precipitation next week, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying an atmospheric river impacting the Bay Area. With this, it looks like the heaviest rainfall and any atmospheric river tap is going to stay to our north, up into far Northern California and into Oregon and Washington.” Josh Whisnant, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Eureka, which is more than 200 miles north of San Francisco, said the storm appears to be significantly weaker than the last big storm that hit California on Oct. 24, but the forecast could change in coming days.