Ag Today October 24, 2018

Groundwater allocation between cities, agriculture up for discussion [Ventura County Star]

A state water management agency will consider a new pumping allocation formula on Wednesday that city officials fear will lead to higher water rates. The Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency board is expected to vote on an ordinance that sets pumping allocation for agricultural and municipal users. The proposal calls for municipal and industrial users to pump no more than 35,000 acre-feet of groundwater a year, representing less than 40 percent of the total allocation. There are two groups that pump water from the Oxnard and Pleasant Valley basins — agricultural and municipal and industrial. Negotiations have been taking place for years with the groundwater management agency as it prepares a sustainability plan under state conservation mandates. The understanding was the agricultural group would pump 60 percent of the allocation to municipal and industrial’s 40 percent as both groups pump less in upcoming years. But a special meeting on Oct. 12 unveiled a proposal that changes the 60/40 split.


Trump taps ex-Monsanto executive to lead wildlife agency [Associated Press]

President Donald Trump says he is nominating a former executive at agribusiness giant Monsanto to head the Fish and Wildlife Service. Aurelia Skipwith of Indiana is currently deputy assistant Interior secretary for fish, wildlife and parks. A biologist and lawyer, Skipwith spent more than six years at Monsanto and has worked at the Agriculture Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. If confirmed by the Senate, Skipwith would be the first African-American to head the wildlife agency, which has 9,000 employees and a $2.8 billion annual budget. The Fish and Wildlife Service has been without a Senate-confirmed director since Trump took office in January 2017.


California faces ‘extra risk’ of flooding after series of massive wildfires, officials warn [Los Angeles Times]

Less than a year after a roaring mudslide left 23 people dead or missing in Montecito, state and federal officials will gather in Santa Barbara County on Wednesday to issue a warning to all Californians: Massive summer wildfires have left many communities facing an increased risk of flooding. The announcement, part of California Flood Preparedness Week, comes as the state’s wet season is quickly approaching….Those fires don’t just destroy trees and brush, they also singe root systems that hold hillsides in place, Orrock said. Also, when the fires are hot enough, they create a waxy top coat on the soil that repels the rain, sending the water cascading downhill where it can dislodge heavy boulders or clog drains and bridge passageways with mud and debris. In Montecito, the concern last year was that any rain falling at a rate of more than a half-inch per hour could trigger a mud flow. It rained far harder than that in early January and triggered a slide that killed 21 people and left two missing. Though vegetation has returned to those same hillsides, it isn’t much, and the potential for a mud flow will remain for years to come, experts say. Now, more Californians than ever are sharing the risk of mud and debris flows because wildfires have grown bigger and more intense, Orrock said.


West’s rivers are hot enough to cook salmon to death. Will this court ruling keep them cool? [Sacramento Bee]

It might be the most gruesome element of the drought conditions that have gripped the West in recent years: salmon being cooked to death by the thousands in rivers that have become overheated as water flows dwindle. Now a federal judge in Seattle has directed the Environmental Protection Agency, in a ruling with implications for California and the Pacific Northwest, to find a way to keep river waters cool. U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez, ruling in a case filed by environmental and fishermen’s groups, told the agency last week it must develop a plan to keep water temperatures low in the Columbia River and its main tributary, the Snake, to protect multiple varieties of salmon and steelhead that are covered by the Endangered Species Act.


Q&A: Here’s what we know about Trump’s water memo and California [Redding Record Searchlight]

President Donald Trump’s memorandum on western water, which ordered federal agencies to look for ways to remove regulatory burdens on federal water projects, has caused waves in California. But what will it actually do? That’s not clear, even to federal bureaucrats. And is farm country in California really the desolate wasteland described by Congressional Republicans? The USA TODAY Network in California asked experts on California water, farming and environmental issues to break down what’s known at this point. Here’s what we know now: Q. Who wins? Which projects are likely to get a boost from the president’s memo? A. Three main water projects are under development in California: Raising the height of Shasta Dam and building the Sites and Temperance Flat reservoirs.


The weed-killing chemical involved in a Monsanto lawsuit was found in Cheerios and Quaker Oats products. Here’s how worried you should be. [Business Insider]

In August, the EWG discovered traces of glyphosate, the most widely used agricultural pesticide in the world, in dozens of Quaker, Kellogg’s, and General Mills products, including cereals like Cheerios and Lucky Charms. The timing of the report aligned closely with a $289 million lawsuit against Monsanto (recently acquired by Bayer), which uses glyphosate as the active ingredient in its popular herbicide, Roundup. Earlier this week, a judge denied the company’s motion for a new trial after the court ruled that Monsanto knew its product was “dangerous” and could potentially lead to cancer. In its August report, EWG tested the levels of glyphosate in 45 samples of conventionally grown oats, before determining that 31 samples fell below their safety criteria. Their latest study adds another 28 samples to the mix, focusing exclusively on Cheerios and Quaker oat products. This time, all but two of the samples showed “harmful” levels of glyphosate (at least according to EWG’s measures). But there’s a catch: We don’t yet know whether glyphosate is actually linked to cancer. As it stands, the majority of published research finds that glyphosate isn’t a health threat at the low levels at which consumers are exposed.