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It was welcome news to read in today’s (10-29-15) Fresno Bee that momentum builds to employ winter-fallowed farmlands, including dormant orchards and vineyards for Valley aquifer recharge should anticipated El Nino flood flows materialize. My well and pump man Hollis Priest was on the farm last week tuning us up when I asked him what sort of water table declines he was observing over this irrigation season. Hollis reports the Clovis area remains stable, while other communities, like Raisin City, have experienced drops of greater than 50 feet. In our case, we’ll commission an official Pump Test soon, but our well’s yield decline, from 800 gallons per minute down to 650 GPM, over this summer indicates Madera’s water table has suffered significantly. Warmer than average high temperatures this fall have [Read more…]
In May of this year, a group of five Certified Organic fruit and vegetable farmers, whose combined careers represent 147 years’ experience in biological agriculture, approached the nation’s largest USDA National Organic Program (NOP) certifier, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), for help in defending our Certified Organic label’s value in a volatile marketplace.
This appeal was prompted by the nation’s iconic retailer of Certified Organic produce, Whole Foods Market (WFM), recent rollout of their proprietary fruit, vegetable and flower “Responsibly Grown” rating system in its 400 stores. The stated purpose of this initiative, examining and rating Conventional and Certified Organic WFM produce suppliers on parameters of soil health, pesticide use, food safety, labor practices, greenhouse gases, water conservation, waste reduction and [Read more…]
I suffer a weakness for accumulating the written word, and to read it all during this waning lifetime is my ambition. My library’s most treasured volume is the large-format, visually stunning 1979 cartographic masterpiece The California Water Atlas, commissioned by Governor Brown’s previous administration during the 1976-1977 drought to enhance knowledge of our state’s hydraulic complexity. A brilliant mind behind that epic publication’s execution popped out of the woodwork last week. Project Director and Editor William L. Kahrl’s May 1st CSUF presentation to Friends of the Madden Library was provocatively titled: “Death in the Almond Orchard”. In an authoritative air, white- bearded Sebastian Cabot look-alike Kahrl lectured on principal differences between California’s then and now, and the adequacy of a water system whose infrastructure remains essentially unchanged. The Golden State’s nearly doubled [Read more…]
No air of anticipation, only resignation, imbued some 200 farmers attending Madera Irrigation District’s 2015 “Grower Meeting” last week as general manager Tommy Greci announced zero water will flow to our thirsty crops for a second consecutive year. Newly elected MID director and long-time Madera farmer Dave Loquaci delivered the day’s knockout punch: “The water use we are historically accustomed to in Madera Co. will never return, nothing will again be the same as it was before”. Australia National Water Commission member Jane Doolan, presenting recently to a Public Policy Institute of California audience, suggested a similar realization keyed revolutionary public policy response to her nation’s dozen-year Millennium Drought that commenced in 1997. [Read more…]
Journalists of every stripe, in search of drought stories, have crawled this valley over several years in numbers reminiscent of Egypt’s Biblical locust plague. Farming friends and I have been dogged by the major TV network trio, New York Times reporters, plus
German, French and Norwegian film crews. If all voyeurs had brought an acre-foot of water each as tribute, we might have broken this epic dry spell. California’s inscrutable plumbing works, arguably the world’s most sophisticated, combining snow pack, river systems, reservoirs, canals and groundwater basins under myriad jurisdictions is difficult enough for local experts to get heads around. Senior and junior water rights, riparian vs. appropriative, pre and post-1914 entitlements, are a bewildering muddle for unlucky journalists sent here for a few days. [Read more…]