Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, WaterTags , , , , Leave a comment on Grape growers grappling with prolonged water supply issues

Grape growers grappling with prolonged water supply issues

Bill Swindell, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

To get a sense of how the state’s three-year drought has created a new normal in the wine industry, consider the truck that Rued Vineyards purchased this year.

Almost daily, Tom Rued would drive the stainless-steel tanker, with a capacity of 6,400 gallons, about 15 miles to a city of Healdsburg filling station to load up on recycled wastewater.

The entire operation takes about five hours, including the round trip between the Alexander Valley vineyard and the plant, the time filling up the tanker, and offloading the water into a drip irrigation system to keep 19 acres of sauvignon blanc vines moist enough to make it through another harvest.

Rued Vineyards has been pressed into such a drastic action after state water regulators this spring curtailed some of the vineyard’s water rights in the upper Russian River watershed along with more than 600 other junior water-rights holders. Officials with the state Water Resources Control Board have been following up with growers to make sure such orders are being followed, but no enforcement actions have yet been taken, said board spokesman George Kostyrko.

via Drought fears in Wine Country | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Windsor imposes mandatory water restrictions

Windsor imposes mandatory water restrictions

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Windsor is taking water conservation to the next level by imposing mandatory restrictions and stepping up “early morning irrigation patrols.”

The Town Council this week declared a Stage 2 water shortage emergency because the initial call for 20 percent voluntary conservation issued in February has fallen short.

While Windsor customers through the end of June cut water use by 15 percent compared to last year, dry conditions require more water stinginess, officials said.

The water saving by residents has been commendable, officials said, but not enough.

“We really need to do more, given the condition of our water supply,” Public Works Director Toni Bertolero told the Town Council prior to the 4-1 vote to impose mandatory restrictions.

Bertolero noted that all water contractors in Sonoma County are moving toward mandatory conservation, particularly after the state emergency regulations that went into effect last month that prohibit water waste and call for potential fines of up to $500 for each day of violation.

via Windsor imposes mandatory water restrictions | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Sacramento judge makes precedent-setting ruling on groundwater regulation

Sacramento judge makes precedent-setting ruling on groundwater regulation

Ed Joyce, CAPITAL PUBLIC RADIO

A Sacramento Superior Court judge issued a ruling Tuesday requiring regulation of groundwater pumping to protect a river in Siskiyou County.

Attorneys on both sides say it’s the first time a California court has ruled the "public trust doctrine" applies to groundwater. The doctrine says the State of California holds all waterways for the benefit of the people.

The lawsuit claimed groundwater pumping in the Scott River Basin is partly responsible for decreased river flows – limiting the public’s use of the river and harming fish habitat.

Jim Wheaton with the Environmental Law Foundation was lead attorney for the plaintiffs. He said the ruling is "a monumental decision."

"Because California is famously the only western state that has no regulation of groundwater pumping at all. And so this decision for the first time is going to say that well at least where that groundwater pumping affects surface waters, you’ve got to regulate it and control it so you don’t do harm,” said Wheaton.

via Sacramento Judge Makes Precedent-Setting Ruling On Groundwater Regulation – capradio.org.