in the KNOW

January 31, 2014

State Water Project Allocation Plunges to Zero

In an effort to protect existing water supplies, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced the most grim water supply outlook in state history–a zero percent water allocation for State Water Project (SWP) contractors.   This means that SWP customers, including agricultural users, will receive no water deliveries in 2014 if the dry conditions continue.  A minimal amount of carryover water, which is stored by local agencies and transferred from willing sellers to buyers in critically depleted areas, will be delivered according to DWR.

In its announcement, DWR said, “Everyone-farmers, fish and people in our cities and towns will get less water.”

DWR Director, Mark Cowin said, “The harsh weather leaves us little choice.  If we are to have any hope of coping with continued dry weather and balancing multiple needs, we must act now to preserve what water remains in our reservoirs.”

Storms later in the winter may provide some reservoir storage and could provide a small increase in water deliveries, but California will remain in a drought due to the critically dry months of December and January, as well as two previous years of drought.   For DWR’s announcement, click HERE.

Cannella & Vidak Offer Water Bond Bill

Senator Andy Vidak (left) and Senator Anthony Cannella (right)-photo by Rich Pedroncelli and published by AP.

Senator Andy Vidak (left) and Senator Anthony Cannella (right)-photo by Rich Pedroncelli and published by AP.

Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) and Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) introduced SB 927 this week, which seeks to replace the existing water bond scheduled for the November 2014 ballot.

SB 927 proposes a $9.2 billion bond, reducing the total amount of the existing $11.1 billion water bond previously negotiated back in 2009. SB 927 is one of several measures now pending in the Legislature to revise the current water bond set for the November 2014 ballot.

Storage Component

At $3 billion, the water storage component in SB 927 is more significant than most other measures seeking to revise the water bond. Ag Council is pleased to see this emphasis on boosting water yield through storage, which is critical given the ongoing drought crisis and the need to better plan for the future. There is also $1 billion for clean drinking water and $2.5 billion for the protection of the Delta water supply in the measure.

At a press conference announcing SB 927, Cannella said, “During our driest year on record, California must invest in increasing our water supply. It was four years ago when we faced a similar situation and, if we do not act this year, our problems will grow.”

Vidak said, “It’s time for leadership, not delay. It’s time Sacramento made water storage and access to clean drinking water a state priority.”

Other Bills

Other water bond legislation pending in the Legislature includes a bill authored by Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and another measure by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis). Rendon’s bill, AB 1331, would place a $6.5 billion water bond on the November ballot and Wolk’s measure, SB 848, would move a $6.47 billion water bond to the ballot.

An area of consensus among many state officials is the view that the existing $11.1 billion water bond set for the November 2014 is too expensive and must be trimmed down. The Legislature must pass new legislation in order to remove the current $11.1 billion bond from the ballot and replace it with a new one.

Next steps

With the various water bond proposals under consideration, the Legislature continues to conduct water bond hearings to garner public input prior to finalizing and approving legislation. Governor Brown’s signature is required before a revised water bond can be placed on the ballot this November.

State Releases Final Water Action Plan

Photo of the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge by Charles Guest with the Los Banos Enterprise.

Photo of the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge by Charles Guest with the Los Banos Enterprise.

The final State Water Action Plan was recently released with the purpose of setting goals for California to achieve over the next five years to boost water supply reliability, restore ecosystems and improve the resilience of our infrastructure. Changes were made to the final document to reflect California’s critical drought conditions.

The plan is being coordinated by the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

Governor Jerry Brown directed the three state agencies to work together to develop a clear course for short and long term actions that can be undertaken by the state. Some of the key actions in the plan include: better regional self-reliance, expand storage capacity, improve groundwater management, provide safe water for communities, manage and prepare for dry conditions, increase flood protection, improve operational and regulatory efficiency, and achieve the co-equal goals for the Delta, among other actions.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said, “Our severe dry conditions are alarming for California’s agricultural industry. In the near term, we must do all we can to keep our fields productive. In the long term, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make the investments that will allow us to stay productive in the fact of a changing climate.”

Click HERE to read the final plan.

Water Board Appointments

The State Senate recently confirmed three individuals who were appointed by the governor to serve on the State Water Resources Control Board.

Dorene D’Adamo was confirmed by the Senate to the State Water Resources Control Board, where she has served since last year. Some Ag Council members know D’Adamo from her previous work as a policy advisor for various members of Congress in the San Joaquin Valley and as a former member of the California Air Resources Board. She is a resident of Turlock.

Ag Council spoke in support of D’Adamo’s appointment during the committee process, and we value her agricultural expertise at the Board as we work to address the complex water issues facing our members.

Tam Doduc was also recently confirmed by the Senate to the State Water Resources Control Board. She has served on the Board since 2005. Ag Council has worked with Doduc on her efforts to reduce the cost of regulatory compliance on our members and others. We appreciate her work in this arena, and Ag Council expressed support her reappointment to the Board.

Finally, the Senate this month confirmed Francis Spivy-Weber to the State Water Resources Control Board. Spivey-Weber is the only member of the Board from Southern California. Ag Council also supported her appointment.

The five-member board is tasked with the protection of water quality and supply in California including supplies for ag, public trust and urban purposes.

Approval Ratings Grow for Governor and Legislature

Photo of Governor Brown by Richie Duchon

Photo of Governor Brown by Richie Duchon

Sixty percent of likely voters have a favorable opinion of Governor Jerry Brown’s job performance, up from 49 percent in December, according to a recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll.

The survey also reveals that Brown’s new 2014-2015 budget plan is receiving strong support from 90 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Independents and 66 percent of Republicans.

The Legislature’s overall rating among adults surveyed is 42 percent and 33 percent among likely voters. This is an improvement from May 2012 when the rating among adults was a mere 25 percent. When asked about their own state legislators, 45 percent of likely voters approve of the job performance by their state elected officials.

Regarding whether state leaders can work together, 51 percent of likely voters are optimistic that collaboration take place on policy issues according to the PPIC poll.

Click HERE to read more results from the PPIC survey that include opinions about the budget, education, health care and other issues.

Ag Council Annual Mtg. Approaching Fast

If you haven’t already registered, Ag Council members are encouraged to register online for our 95th Annual Meeting to be held March 2-4, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa. Click HERE for the registration website.

Ag Council’s General Session speakers include Dan Schnur who is Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California (USC), as well as Director of the USC Dornsife/LA Times Poll. He is also past Chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

In addition, Mike Kirkpatrick with Nationwide Insurance will discuss farm transition planning in a presentation entitled, “Land as Your Legacy.” Dr. Patrick Lattore is a leadership consultant who will speak about building a constructive and healthy business culture. Click HERE to view the full meeting agenda.

The Annual Meeting is held in conjunction with CoBank’s Pacific West Customer Meeting.

Please contact Rebecca Osumi at ph. 916.443.4887 or email rebecca@agcouncil.org with any questions about the Annual Meeting.

Annual Mtg. Sponsorship Opportunities

Ag Council is seeking 2014 annual meeting sponsors. Our sponsors play a major role in helping us deliver the highest quality meeting possible for attendees.

Ag Council is also seeking sponsors for our Golf Tournament and PAC Fundraiser event to be held during the annual meeting on March 2, 2014 at Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine at 9 a.m.

Click HERE for further details about annual meeting and golf tournament sponsorships.

Sponsors are acknowledged in our printed program at the meeting and in signage at the event. Rebecca Osumi is available to answer any questions. Feel free to contact her at ph. 916.443.4887 or at rebecca@agcouncil.org.