CIRS Blog about Rural California
WASHINGTON - Northern California lawmakers are turning up the heat on the Westlands Water District, with coordinated calls for congressional hearings and tougher Obama administration scrutiny.
Citing recent enforcement action by the Securities and Exchange Commission, House Democrats from outside the San Joaquin Valley on Thursday initiated what one lawmaker termed “an investigation” into the district and its proposed irrigation drainage deal with the administration.
“The Westlands Water District plays by its own rules, and trusting them with an agreement of this magnitude should give every member of Congress serious pause,” said Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael.
Westside farmers got dismal news April 1 when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a 5 percent water allocation for 2016.
Farmers say the paltry allocation will mean thousands of acres in one of the nation’s most productive farming regions will continue to be fallowed.
“This is going to hurt,” said Sal Parra, a westside grower who farms various crops. “We have already fallowed about 5,000 acres and cut back our workers’ hours. It’s like we can’t get ahead.”
The San Joaquin Valley, especially the westside, has been hit especially hard by a four-year drought. In the sprawling Westlands Water District, officials say at least 200,000 acres will not be farmed because of a lack of water.
Over the last two years, farmers in Westlands have received a zero water allocation from the Central Valley Project – the system that supplies water to farmers from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
You may have been hearing the phrase “climate smart agriculture” more lately. Governor Brown embraced the term in his 2016-17 budget proposal. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a climate smart agriculture initiative. And international climate efforts include the UN’s work on support climate smart agricultural practices.
So what is climate smart agriculture? Like the phrase “sustainable agriculture,” it is not universally defined, and it is used to mean many things to many people.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations takes credit for first coining the term in the lead up to the 2010 Hague Conference on Food Security, Agriculture and Climate Change. The FAO defines climate smart agriculture as “a means of identifying which production systems and enabling institutions are best suited to respond to the challenges of climate change for specific locations, to maintain and enhance the capacity of agriculture to support food security in a sustainable way.”
The FAO identifies three pillars to the concept:
- Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes
- Adapting and building resilience to climate change
- Reducing and/or removing greenhouse gases emissions, where possible
WASHINGTON —The White House on Tuesday unveiled several billion dollars’ worth of corporate commitments to water research and development during a high-level summit.
Pegged to World Water Day, the summit was intended to draw attention to specific state and corporate pledges as well as new Obama administration initiatives prompted in part by Western states’ drought and the Flint, Michigan, drinking water scandal.
The corporate promises include a commitment by GE to invest $500 million over the next decade on water and reuse technologies, and a pledge by San Francisco-based Ultra Capital to invest $1.5 billion in decentralized “water management solutions.”