September 2010

by Felipe Fuentes and Mark Schlosberg,

AB 301 would give Californians the right to know how much of their communities’ water is being bottled for sale and where that bottled water comes from. With water scarcity being a top concern, this modest bill is an important step towards better managing our water.

Currently in California, there are over 100 bottled water facilities, some operating in parched areas of the state including Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego Counties. About half of water that is bottled comes from municipal sources at the same time that companies then sell essentially the same product we get from our tap back to us for up to a thousand times the cost.

In other areas of California, bottlers seek water from springs that are critical to the health of the local environment including creeks and lakes. Overdrawing on these resources can impact the entire community and the environment. In either case, the community has the right to know how water is being used in order to properly manage community resources.

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A Retrospective Estimate of the Economic Impacts of Reduced Water Supplies to the San Joaquin Valley in 2009

By Jeffrey Michael, Richard Howitt, Josué Medellín-Azuara, and Duncan MacEwan1, Sept. 28, 2010

The effect of reduced water supplies as a result of drought and environmental pumping restrictions in 2009 on the San Joaquin Valley economy was, and continues to be, the subject of significant discussion. Economic effects were quantified in terms of agricultural production, revenues, and jobs and income. In the midst of a severe recession, it is no surprise that job loss estimates generated the most interest and debate. In the months following the 2009 growing season, data have been released that offer a clearer picture of the effects of reduced water supplies. As such, the purpose of this report is to take a retrospective look back at 2009 and summarize changes in agricultural production and employment in the San Joaquin Valley due to reduced water supplies. Model results and survey data now closely coincide and provide conclusive evidence on the final effects of reduced water supplies in 2009.

Click here to read the report at

Posted on: Monterey County Herald

While the people of the Peninsula rightly worry about our homegrown water problems, the rest of California is also fussing and fighting over water, and some of the developments have ominous implications for all of us.

One of the worst involves the growing practice of using old or quietly negotiated water rights to take large entitlements from the state and federal water projects and use them not to grow crops, not to increase flows to nurture salmon and steelhead, but to sell the water to Southern California.

Click here to read the full editroial at

By: Dan Bacher

Patrick Porgans and Lloyd Carter reveal that while the federal and state officials are seemingly still at odds as to whether the “drought” is over, a review of the government’s data indicates that contrary to the wolf cries of Fox, CBS, the Governor and water officials, the recent California “drought” was very mild at best in comparison to historical droughts.

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Hey you… yeah, YOU!

We just updated our Newswire page… take a look!

Organizers of Saturday’s Coastal Cleanup Day in San Joaquin County will, for the first time, offer a prize to whoever finds the strangest item of litter in one of the county’s many waterways.

There’s already a statewide contest. And San Joaquin County residents, perhaps unfortunately, seem quite competitive.

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The Dry Garden: Predictions of La Niña winter

LA Times

Autumn and early winter are traditionally considered planting season in Southern California because nature can be expected to cooperate. As days shorten and rains come, seeds germinate, newly transplanted saplings deepen their roots and established plants awaken from dormancy.

Yet not all years are created equal, and this coming planting season has all the hallmarks of a tricky one.

National Weather Service predictions for a La Niña cycle are becoming less tentative and more ominous. That means ocean temperature trends in the equatorial Pacific have shifted to the opposite of last winter — a way that augurs drought.

How dry our rainy season might be is unknowable; this brooding La Niña might even produce a wet year, but the odds are stacked sharply against that. According to Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist Bill Patzert, 82% of the La Niñas since 1949 have had below-average rainfall. “Some are way below average,” he said. “This is a strong La Niña. It really tilts the scale. It’s an 80% to 90% probability of a dry winter.”

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The following excerpt is from a comment letter submitted to the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors regarding the Draft Valley Springs Community Plan:

FLCR strongly supports the Council of Government’s (“CCOG”) proposed Valley Springs Community Plan. CCOG’s plan was the result of a data driven, democratic process, and as a result it better aligns with the County Board of Supervisors recent decision to encourage future growth in existing community centers. In addition, the CCOG’s plan identifies a far superior area for mixed-use development by identifying 106 acres of land located in the existing town center of Valley Springs instead of calling for urban sprawl on important farmland.

In stark contrast to the CCOG proposed Community Plan, the draft plan offered by Supervisor Gary Tofanelli suffers from two significant flaws.  First, this plan directs the rezoning of the Spring Valley watershed (located adjacent to New Hogan Lake and stretches to Lime Creek Road and new Hogan Dam Road area) from Agricultural Use to Commercial Use. We oppose this re-zoning from agricultural to commercial use because the proposed conversion of agricultural lands to commercial lands represents a significant area within the Spring Valley watershed, which contains the head waters of Cosgrove Creek – an important tributary to the Calaveras River. (more…)

by Dan Bacher,

In spite of the enormous risk that it would pose to human health and imperiled wild salmon populations, the Obama administration is moving forward on its approval of the AquaBounty corporation’s genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon for human consumption.

Food & Water Watch and a coalition of consumer, environmental, fishing and animal welfare groups on September 9 sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) insisting that it discontinue its controversial and largely secretive approval process for AquaBounty GE salmon.

“The FDA has purposefully kept critical information from the public surrounding what could soon become the first genetically engineered food animal to hit the market,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “Consumers have a right to know that the FDA lacks the means to assess this fish as a genetically engineered animal intended for human consumption. If this product was approved, the resulting consumer health impact could be disastrous.”

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California Agriculture Cashing In at Record Breaking Highs

The Golden State’s agricultural earnings have reached historic highs during the so-called three-year drought.

By: Patrick Porgans

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture, (USDA), California’s cash receipts from crop and livestock sales, in billions of dollars, are as follows: 2009- $34.841; 2008- $38.407; 2007- $36.386; 2006- $31.426; 2005 – $32.4; 2004- $30.939; 2003- $28.232; 2002- $26.544; 2000 – $26.206; and 2000- $25.185.

California’s Governor Schwarzenegger, state water officials, 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl, and Fox Cable TV host Sean Hannity, were among those espousing their “Dust Bowl” drought rhetoric for the past three years, depicting images or fallow fields, orchards being ripped out and projections of the state’s agricultural industry going under. It appears their doomsday predictions were all wet.

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