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Wolf Cries – Howling About Drought – All Wet – No More Doubts Officials Exaggerated
Severity of Drought
By: Patrick Porgans and Lloyd Carter
MOTIVE FOR THE DROUGHT: Doubts are being raised as to why Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger issue a drought proclamation at the onset of the below average conditions,
and opted not to declared the drought as being over in 2010, when precipitation exceeded
110 percent of normal and statewide reservoir storage reach 95 percent of average.
Obviously, the drought proclamation opened up the floodgate to release hundreds
of millions of dollars of public moneys used to fund so-called drought relief programs
to a host of local water agencies and agricultural recipients http://www.water.ca.gov/lgagrant/docs/120309grant.pdf.
Also, when a state-of-emergency is proclaimed it essentially sets aside many regulatory
and environmental safeguards; precipitating assertions that the Governor is using
excerpts from the Chinatown script. California recently sold $733 million in bonds
to fund drought, flood control and water management projects, and the state is preparing
for another bond sale of $400 million for water and drought response, according to
a press release issued by the Governor on the 15 April 2009. gov.ca.gov/press-release/12022.
Government documents support critics’ contentions that the Governor of California
and his supporters exaggerated the extent of the drought as a platform to promote
the passage of the $11 billion General Obligation Bond “Water Package” purportedly
designed to increase the state’s water supply reliability, improve its aging infrastructure,
and “fix” the broken Bay-Delta Estuary. At the last minute, before ballot were printed,
the $11 billion bond act was taken off this November’s ballot for reasons yet not
fully divulged and is now scheduled for the 2012 election.
Meanwhile federal and state officials still appear to be at odds as to whether the
California "drought" is over. A review of the government’s own data, Figure 1, indicate
that the recent California “drought” was very mild at best in comparison to historical
droughts, contrary to the wolf cries of Fox, CBS, Governor and water bureaucrats.
This finding is prefaced on comparing data from the four-year period - 2006 through
2009, within which a three-year “drought” purportedly occurred - with the last four
years of the drought that occurred from 1987 through 1992.
Ironically, in the midst of a budget crisis, and the longest delay in adopting a
state budget, the public is paying for the drought relief programs, with billions
of dollars of borrowed money repaid from the $20 billion deficit-ridden General Fund,
while safety-net programs, education, jobs, and day care funding have been drying
Figure 1 is in Million Acre-Feet (MAF); Water Year (WY) Summary
Data in Figure 1, extrapolated from Department of Water Resources (DWR) Bulletin
120 series – Water Conditions in California, illustrates the difference in water
conditions prevalent during the 1989 through 1992 and the 2006 through 2009 drought
years (using four-year periods, which includes the year before the current drought
started). During both periods, statewide water consumption remained relatively constant,
supplemented by a significant increase in groundwater consumption. It is important
to note, that groundwater provides about 40% of California’s annual water supply.
In dry years, that percentage can go as high as 60 percent. Major surface water
projects were developed to augment surface and ground water depletions and to weather
Figure 1 also indicates that there was a significant increase in the state’s water
supply within this past “drought” period as compared to the 1989-1992 drought period. A
58 percent increase in the indices on the Sacramento Valley side and an 81percent
increase on the San Joaquin Valley side. Based on the period of record (1906-2009),
Sacramento Valley unimpaired runoff averages out at 18 million-acre-feet (MAF); the
San Joaquin Valley unimpaired runoff averages out at about six MAF; in the 2006-2009
period in the Sacramento valley it was 16.39 MAF; San Joaquin Valley 5.35 MAF.
Hydrologic and Water Supply Conditions and Precipitation in California:
The 2009 Water Year (October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009) was the third consecutive
year of below average precipitation for the state. In DWR Bulletin 120 series, Summary
of Water Conditions, statewide precipitation totaled 80 percent, 85 percent, and
65 percent of average for Water Years 2009, 2008, and 2007, respectively. According
to DWR’s Bulletin 120, water year 2006 was 140 percent above average. Ironically,
the average for that four years was 92percent of normal precipitation; reservoir
storage for that same period would have averaged out to 96 percent. Furthermore,
at the end of 2009 statewide reservoir storage was averaging 80 percent of capacity.
In addition, according to DWR’s Bulletin 120-4-10, in May 2010, statewide reservoir
storage was at 95 percent, and statewide precipitation was 110 percent of average.
Conversely, during the previous drought, reservoir storage capacity statewide in
1992, the last year of that drought, was at 70 percent; average for the 1989-1992
period was at 75 percent. Those numbers indicate that the 1989-1992 period were much
more drastic then the recent “drought”. Yet, the 1989-1992 drought was not compared
to the “Dust Bowl” or the Armageddon of California agriculture espouse by water officials.
Wet and dry cycles are a part of California’s climate, as is indicated by water runoff,
which is illustrated in Figure 2. Precipitation varies widely from year to year.
In average years, close to 200 million acre-feet (MAF) of water falls in the form
of rain or snow in California. That is enough water to flood the entire state two
feet deep in water.
S Over half of that water soaks into the ground, evaporates or is used by native
vegetation. That leaves somewhere around 82 million-acre feet of usable surface water
in average years.
S About 75 percent of California’s available water occurs north of Sacramento, while
about 80 percent of the demand occurs in the southern two-thirds of the state.
S There have been about 30 years out of 92 (since 1918) or about one in every three
years that the state includes as part of a drought period.
The North Coast Hydrological Region produces the largest volume of runoff; however,
it has limited storage capacity. The Sacramento River Basin is the second-richest
water producing area, and has the largest volume of water storage capacity in California.
As stated, the average annual runoff in the basin is around 18 million acre-feet
of water, as is indicated in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Sacramento River Unimpaired Runoff Since 1906 – Source, DWR
As indicated on the Sacramento River Unimpaired Runoff Since 1906, California has
experienced eight- notable drought cycles, four of which occurred in: 1928-1934
(pre-government water project development); 1976-1977 (post SWP and CVP); 1987-1992;
2007-2009). A similar request for unimpaired runoff for the San Joaquin River watershed
and a statewide graph was also requested; however, according to DWR official, this
information does not appear to exist. Water year types for the Sacramento Valley
and the San Joaquin Valley can be viewed at http://cdec.water.ca.gov/water_supply.html.
General Fund Being Drained by Budget Crisis and Government-Induced Drainage Crisis
While Californians were held captive waiting for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and
the Legislature to adopt a budget, more than 100 days late, costing “We the People”
$52 million a day; more than $4 billion to date, with interest $8.2 billion, according
to the State Treasurer’s office; officials are also throwing $100s of millions down
the drain and compounding California’s government-induced water crisis.
Within the past decade California has been besieged by a water supply crisis, a budget
crisis, a credit-rating crisis, a jobs crisis, an education crisis, a health care
crises and a water quality crisis. The water quality crisis was identified as a potential
crisis in the 1950s, and has contributed to the pollution of a significant length
of the 330 mile San Joaquin River. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) 215.4 miles of the river are on the 303(d) list, (the latest EPA approved
list is from 2006), adding to demise of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The primary sources of the water quality crisis is from toxic salt discharge from
lands irrigated by subsidized water delivered by the federal Central Valley Project
to contractors “farming” on the arid west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Millions
of acre-feet of water are exported from the project’s Delta pumping plants which
transport salt to and from those lands. All of this is being done as the government
declares its intent to “save the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary” while sanctioning
its demise. Common sense dictates that it is not possible to continue sanctioning
the dumping of hundreds of tons of toxic salts into the San Joaquin River and the
Bay-Delta Estuary annually and expect it to survive.
Toxic salt loading is not only taking its toll on the river and Bay-Delta Estuary,
it is draining the State General Fund, as a myriad of publicly funded programs for
drainage, water quality improvement, fisheries restoration and others continue to
be financed with borrowed money from the deficit-ridden General Fund.
Water officials have wasted more than $10 billion and 35 years in extended delays
in their failed attempt to carry out their legal mandates to protect the waters of
the state and restore the Bay-Delta Estuary. In addition, the Bay-Delta Estuary
was touted as the “ground-zero poster child” pitched by water officials in support
of the so-called historical 2009 “Water Package” - $11 billion bond act, approved
by the Legislature and signed by the governor. Even the mainstream media acknowledged
this “package” as a “backroom-pork-barrel deal”. The “package” is once again being
sold to “improve” the Estuary. The bond measure has been rescheduled for the 2012
The fact remains that for decades the “responsible” government officials and political
appointees on both the State Water Resources Control Board and the Central Valley
Regional Water Quality Control Board (boards) have been sanctioning the discharge
of trainloads of toxic substances into the San Joaquin River and the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay Estuary. The discharges have been reported to
exceed the state’s toxic threshold limits. Water officials, drainers, and the major
“environmental groups” forged a “deal” back in 1995 to permit the toxic drainage
to continue until October 2010, at which time the discharges were to end. The authors
and others opposed this deal back then, saying it would not work – and so it failed.
Recently, the water boards approved a new-target date for compliance and sanctioned
dumping of toxic drainage. The train wreck in the making will be allowed to continue
dumping and pumping in excess of 3.4 million pounds of toxic salts per day into the
waters of the state to at least the year 2019. http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/board_info/agendas/2010/oct/100510agenda.pdf
A significant portion of the San Joaquin River has been declared to be water quality
impaired-polluted (unfit to swim in, eat certain species of fish and so forth). On
a map published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 1999, entitled,
Index of Watershed Indicators, it shows that the valley is the single largest “more
serious water quality problem – high vulnerability” area in the nation. This dubious distinction
is the direct result of the boards’ failure to take action to stop the discharge
of these toxic substances into the waters of the state, which exceed both state and
federal water quality standards.
Source: Environmental Protection Agency - Index
of Watershed Indicators
How much salt are we talking about? According to a U.S. Geological Survey report
(at page 106), about 17 railroad cars a day, each capable of carrying 100 tons of
salt (sodium and chlorides, as well as the really nasty trace elements like selenium
and mercury), about 3.4 million pounds per day being dumped in the lower San Joaquin
River in Merced County and sent on down to the Delta. In theory, some of the “experts”
claim is ultimately flushed to sea, and the rest perhaps enters the aquatic food
chain or at least degrades cleaner Delta water. As far back as the 1990s, evidence
was provided by board’s staff that the salt loads into the valley are “doubling”
every five years! (Source: State Water Board’s Bay-Delta Water Rights Hearings, Sacramento,
CA., 29 Oct. 1998, Reported b y Mary Gallagher, CSR#10749.)
Proponents of the San Joaquin Basin Plan Amendment, which will be the subject of
discussion at the State Board’s 5 October meeting, argue that the 1995 Grasslands
Bypass Project has reduced toxic salt loading to the surface waters of the state. However,
the tons of toxics salts that are being discharge daily into the waters of the state
are only the tip of the “iceberg. An unfathomable amount of toxic salts are being
stored in the soil profile and is contaminating groundwater basins throughout the
Since its inception, critics of the Grasslands Bypass Project argued that the project
would not work, simply because the only real way to resolve the discharge of the
tons of toxic salts is to stop irrigating those lands that have known drainage problems.
Despite the common sense urged by the critics, and a 1995 agreement between the
officials and the agricultural drainers to bring the trainloads of salt to a halt
by no later than 1 October 2010, the State Board will consider continuing the present
noncompliance until 2019. http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/tmdl/docs/sjr_selenium/resolution092210.pdf
At the urging of the project’s water contractors, the government knowingly supplied
subsidized water to irrigate valley lands without requiring the federally-mandated
drainage facilities to remove toxic agricultural drainage from the fields. In the
early 1980’s the discharge of the toxic salts into the now closed “Kesterson National
Wildlife Refuge”, located in the San Joaquin Valley, was the site of one of the nation’s
worst government-induced wildlife crisis in history. Several studies have since been
conducted and numerous band-aid “fixes” have been implemented, costing taxpayers
hundreds of millions of dollars. So far, the officials have failed to identify a
viable cost-effective solution to the toxic agricultural drainage crisis and estimates
a pilot program will cost at least $2 billion.
In 1968, the State Board adopted its Anti-Degradation Water Policy, which states
“California’s anti-degradation policy is found in Resolution 68-16, “Policy with
Respect to Maintaining Higher Quality Waters in California,” and Resolution 88-63,
“Sources of Drinking Water Policy.” These resolutions are part of State policy for
water quality control and are binding on all State agencies. They apply to both surface
waters and groundwater, and protect both existing and potential uses.”
The State Water Board and the Regional Water Boards are responsible for swift and
fair enforcement when the laws and regulations protecting California's waterways
are violated. The State Water Board's Office of Enforcement assists and coordinates
enforcement activities statewide.
A coalition of concerned parties, including the author, will state their protest
of the proposed extension of time, at the board’s meeting. Refer to Open Letter to
the State Water Resources Control Board at www.lloydgcarter.com or you are invited
to read more detailed information on related stories at www.planetarysolutionaries.org
HAY! DOUBT ABOUT THE DROUGHT?
Making hay and burning up water in the desert sun – Shipping Rice and Hay (and lots
of water) to Japan – Does it make sense? Is it sustainable? All this while California
water officials cry drought
In 2009, the last year of the so-called “Great California Drought”, some strange
things happened: Growers had a “hay day” in the Imperial Valley desert; Sacramento
Valley growers produced a near record amount of rice, and down south, Metropolitan
Water District of Southern California (Met), the largest urban water supplier in
the nation, experienced record-breaking water sales. All of this despite repeated
mainstream media accounts in 2009 of an economy-wrecking “dust bowl” drought.
The two things that hay and rice have in common are that both of them consume a
great deal of water for their dollar value and they produce very little net income.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the California rice harvest
in 2009 was up nine percent from the previous year and near the record crop of 2004.
According to a University of California, Davis, report, the minimum amount of water
required to grow a crop of rice is about 42 inches; however, unavoidable losses due
to percolation and tailwater outflows can add to this amount so that the amount of
water consumed (or evaporated) can but can be up to as much as 100 inches per acre,
depending on the soil. That appears to be enough water to drown the tallest person
The California Rice Commission, a trade group representing 2,500 rice farmers,
estimates that rice uses 2.2 million acre-feet of irrigation water yearly, about
2.6 percent of the state’s total water supply. According to records obtained from
the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California that is equal to the annual
average water it supplied to all of its 19 million customers.
In 2008, University of California Davis data show California exported 52 percent
of its rice production, much of it to Japan. Furthermore, for every pound of rice
exported, about 250 gallons of “virtual” or “embedded” water used in growing and
processing that rice leaves along with it, according to “Water Footprints of Nations,”
a 2004 study from the Netherlands for UNESCO (The report spawned the Web site www.waterfootprint.com
The rice harvest should be of great consolation to the chairman of the California
State Water Resources Control Board, Charles Hoppin, who is also a rice grower, vice-chairman
of the Rice Growers Cooperative, and immediate past chairman of the California Rice
Chairman Hoppin, in a March speech in Yuma, Arizona, complained the regulatory
community, including much of his staff, doesn't know or understand the issues facing
agriculture and "doesn't give a rat's ..."
According to the Environmental Working Group, rice subsidies in California totaled
$2.4 billion from 1995-2009. In that period the single largest recipient of subsidies
was the Farmers’ Rice Cooperative of Sacramento, California, totaling $146,174,297.
Unfortunately, USDA has not provided recipient detail for rice cooperatives. Farm
recipients of USDA subsidies in California totaled $9,123,000,000 in from 1995-2009.
According to EWG, “Washington paid out a quarter of a trillion dollars in federal
farm subsidies between 1995 and 2009, but to characterize the programs as either
a "big government" bailout or another form of welfare would be manifestly unfair
– to bailouts and welfare.” http://farm.ewg.org/summary.php
Hey! And where is that Imperial Valley water-gulping hay (and Sudan grass) going?
According to writer Melinda Burns, much of it also going to Japan:
In the Imperial Valley of California, a region drier than part of the Sahara Desert,
farmers have found a lucrative market abroad for a crop they grow with Colorado River
water: They export bales of hay to land-poor Japan. Since the mid-1980s, this arid
border region of California has been supplying hay and feed for Japan’s dairy cows
and black-haired cattle, the kind that get daily massages, are fed beer and produce
the most tender Kobe beef. Container ships from Japan unload electronics and other
goods in the Port of Long Beach, and the farmers fill up the containers with hay
for the trip back across the Pacific. Since the containers would otherwise return
empty, it ends up costing less to ship hay from Long Beach to Japan than to California’s
Central Valley. Water is cheap for [Imperial] valley farmers . . . it costs only
$100 to irrigate an acre of hay in the desert for a year.
It should be remembered that California agriculture now consumes 75-80 percent
of the state’s available surface water supplies.
According to a report by the Peter H. Gleick, with the Pacific Institute, “This
is water that is literally being shipped away,” said Patrick Woodall, research director
at Food and Water Watch, an international consumer advocacy group with headquarters
in Washington, D.C. “There’s a kind of insanity about this. Exporting water in the
form of crops is giving water away from thirsty communities and infringing on their
ability to deal with water scarcity. This is a place where some savings could be
made now, and it’s just not being discussed.” http://www.miller-mccune.com/business-economics/trading-virtual-water-3650/Jobs
and Water: According to the Pacific Institute’s report, “…there is a huge disparity
in the number of jobs that 1,000 acre-feet of water produces in different sectors
of California’s economy. The use of 1,000 acre-feet of water produces 9,000 jobs
in the semiconductor industry, 2,500 jobs in commercial offices, 35 jobs in grape
and wine production, and 3 jobs growing cotton [one job for growing rice]. Overall,
1,000 acre-feet of water produces 22,000 jobs in California’s industrial sector,
6,600 jobs in the commercial sector, and 12 jobs in the agricultural sector.”
Are the taxpayers, who have poured billions of dollars into California’s water
infrastructure, getting a good return on their money? Is this type of use of the
public’s water resources sustainable? In the past several decades tens-of-billions
of dollars have been expended on government water projects. Between 2000 and 2006
California issued almost $20 billion in General Obligation bonds, for water- and
water-related purposes, with interest payments will costs the public more than $30
billion in repayment from the state’s deficit-ridden General Fund.
Taxpayers may want to remember this when California’s “water lords” try to float
another $11 billion water bond ($22 billion by the time it is paid off) in the 2012
Government Data Raises 'More Doubts About the Drought
Government Data Raises ‘More Doubts About the Drought’ - 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. 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. In 2008, the all-time high for agricultural cash receipts,
although a significant amount of money, it only represented about two percent of
the $1.88 trillion Gross Domestic Product generated in the Golden State in that same
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.
Government data released
yesterday by the USDA, does not support their draconian doom and gloom prophecies
reminiscent of the “Great Drought – Dust Bowl” of the 1930’s, and their predictions
that billions of dollars in lost revenues were imminent.
In fact, in 2008, the second
year of what officials proclaimed as the state’s “worst drought ever”, agricultural
“cash receipts” (revenues realized from all agricultural commodities produced in
the Golden State) reached a record-breaking high of $38.4 billion (just recently
revised from the initial 2008 estimate of $36.2 billion), up from the previous all-time
high in 2007 of $36.4 billion.
But wait, in 2009 the third year of the government
“proclaimed drought”, agricultural cash receipts reach $34.8 billion. There’s more,
the state’s 75,000 farms and ranches received a record $36.4 billion for their output
in 2007, up from $31.8 billion in receipts a year earlier (2006), which was a very
wet year. The previous high for the state’s annual cash receipts was reached in 2005
when sales totaled $32.4 billion.
Furthermore, the reduction in cash receipts from
2008 to 2009 is predominately attributed to the significant reduction in California’s
decline in revenue was led by the dairy sector, not the results of the “drought”
or curtailment in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water exports, purportedly to protect
a three-inch fish. Dairy producers received $4.54 billion for their milk production
in 2009, down 34 percent from 2008, and down 38 percent from the 2007 record high
of $7.34 billion. (Source: Cooperating with the California Department of Food and
Agriculture, · www.nass.usda.gov/ca, Media Contact: Kelly Krug, (916) 498-5161 or
1-800-851-1127 · August 31, 2010)
According to the USDA’s report dairy - “Herd size
decreased 3 percent from 2008. Milk production from the State’s dairy farms decreased
4 percent. Milk prices received by producers continued to fall from $18.05 in 2007
to $16.82 in 2008 to $11.49 per hundred pounds of milk sold in 2009. California produced
18.6 percent of the nation’s milk supply last year. The volatile beginning to 2009
dairy pricing had a negative impact on both dairy income and total farm revenues
in 2009. Milk prices remained low for the first 7 months before beginning to recover.”
record-breaking cash receipts raise questions and doubts about the government’s motive.
Critics claim that this is yet another testament of how government, the agricultural
industry and the water agencies are “milking the drought” as a means to instill fear
among Californians to gain public support for another $11 billion General Obligation
Bond bailout to subsidize cheap water for the water buffaloes, while the masses suffer
from the debt-ridden General Fund and draconian cuts in jobs, health care, safety
net programs, schools, and a much higher cost for the state to borrow money.
to the government, Agricultural Statistical Review, “Almond Cash Receipts, 1998-2007”,
indicate that revenues peaked in 2005, years before the “pre-drought proclamation”,
and show a steady decline each year thereafter. Essentially, they saturated the market.
Coincidentally, the government’s records show that during California’s previous drought,
which occurred from the years 1987 through 1992, and, if the government’s records
are valid, was, without question, a much worse drought then this latest so-called
drought, which occurred when ranchers/farmers/agribusinesses were planting new almond
orchards in the San Joaquin Valley.
The records also attest to the fact that between
1998 and 2001, cash receipts from almond production remain relatively constant at
around $700 million annually. The increase in almond production (new orchards) was
done with the full knowledge that the risk of a drought could have potential adverse
impacts on permanent crops, which absolutely require water every year.
that apparently did not serve as a deterrent. Be mindful that many of the major government
surface water projects were built as back-up supplies during droughts; it is customary
to use more groundwater during dry periods, even if it cost more. Fortunately, California
has 10 times the amount of “useable” groundwater than it has stored in all of its
In their rhetoric, the officials and the media, showed pictures
of almond orchards being ripped out in certain areas of the arid San Joaquin Valley;
however, they failed to inform the public that in some cases those orchards were
being ripped out and replaced with a higher and more productive variety of almonds,
and/or because some of the orchards had outlived their useful production years.
Next in the series: Harvesting Windfall Profits from the so-called Drought – While
Funds for Public Safety-Net Programs and Jobs Dry Up. Other drought-related stories,
published by the authors, can be obtained at the following websites: www.planetarysolutionaries.org;
www.lloydgcarter.com or Google “Doubts About the Drought”.