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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 up.


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 drought cycles.

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 ballot.


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.


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


















For Further information regarding this Map go to:




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 valley.


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.


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 in part:

“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




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 on earth.


  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 Industry Association.


  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 election.


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 year.

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.”

The 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.

According 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.  

However, 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 surface reservoirs.

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.

The global financial crisis also played a key role in the demands for certain high-end agricultural commodities, as did naturally occurring climatic cycles and the related agricultural production elsewhere on the planet. The financial crisis was also aided and abetted by the very same government officials whom are entrusted to protect the public’s interest.  Copyright © 2010




























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”.



Patrick Porgans and author Lloyd G. Carter are involved in publishing a series of articles, entitled: “Doubts About the Drought." For more information you can Google Hay! Doubts About the Drought, or visit the following websites; http://www.planetarysolutionaries.org and http://www.lloydgcarter.com





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