San Joaquin Valley

California’s San Joaquin Valley looks to solar, not farming, as climate change worsens

California’s San Joaquin Valley will become increasingly difficult to farm as climate change intensifies. But with the right regulations and policies, the state’s multibillion dollar agricultural belt could become something else — a clean energy powerhouse that the state desperately needs. At a panel event on Tuesday, energy professionals and community leaders gave a glimpse of the valley’s potential future — one where alfalfa fields give way to solar farms and carbon is sequestered beneath fallowed orchards. They also acknowledged how daunting an economic transition it would be. No Paywall

‘The truth is California does not have enough water’

California’s San Joaquin Valley is getting drier, hotter and more polluted as climate change intensifies, and its communities will need to embrace more equitable agricultural strategies in order to survive, according to local experts and political leaders.(No paywall)

High exposure to pesticides linked to higher risk of birth abnormalities

A UC-Santa Barbara study of 500,000 birth records in the San Joaquin Valley from 1977-2011 found that high exposure to pesticides as a result of living near farm fields appeared to increase the risk for women to give birth to a baby with “abnormalities” by 9 percent, said the Independent. The …

California water board gives farmers a break thanks to rain

A wetter fall has convinced California regulators to ease up on water restrictions for farmers and ranchers in the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta and its watersheds, says Reuters. A foot of rain fell on the northern half of the state in October, making it the second wettest on record in the northern Sierra Nevadas. The south remained dry.

To beat drought, farmers drill record number of wells in San Joaquin Valley

Growers "dug about 2,500 wells in the San Joaquin Valley last year alone, the highest number on record," says the Sacramento Bee, describing "a kind of groundwater arms race" to offset the greatly curtailed amounts of irrigation water from state and federal water projects.

California’s latest attempts to save fish have farmers afraid

In California, federal fisheries regulators are mulling two new plans to save the state’s endangered winter-run Chinook salmon and Delta smelt—plans that could mean serious water shortages for farmers. While this year saw ample rain and snowfall in the northern half of the state, regulators warn that the precipitation wasn’t enough to make up for several years of historic drought.

California’s WaterFix won’t fix much, experts say

Known as WaterFix, California’s proposed $15-billion water project to divert the Sacramento River won’t bring much more water to farmers or cities, says the Los Angeles Times.

Winners and losers in California water allocations

In California’s Sacramento Valley, farms and cities will receive 100 percent of their contracted federal water this year, but farmers farther west in the San Joaquin Valley will only see 5 percent of their promised water, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Relentless drought to cost California ag economy $1.8 billion

The fourth year of unrelenting drought in California will cost the state agricultural economy $1.8 billion - 20 percent more than in 2014 - although farmers and their irrigation districts "are showing more resilience to the drought than many had anticipated," says a report by the UC-Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

Rural poor suffer in drought; tech wizards offer water apps

"For many Californians, the state’s long drought has meant small inconveniences such as shorter showers and restrictions on watering lawns.

House Republicans try again on California water bill

California Republicans in the U.S. House proposed "an ambitious new, but familiar," drought relief bill "that once again includes hot-button items like scaling back a San Joaquin River restoration program," reports the Fresno Bee.

Drought’s pricetag rises for California agriculture

California's farmers will have less irrigation water and will idle more cropland this year than they did last year, says a study by UC-Davis. It estimates direct agricultural losses of $1.8 billion, comprised of $1.2 billion in lower crop, livestock and dairy revenue and $600 million in higher costs to pump water from wells. "When we account for the spillover effect of agriculture on the state’s other economic sectors, the total cost of this year’s drought on California’s economy is $2.7 billion and the loss of about 18,600 full- and part-time jobs," say the authors.

Salt degradation affects 20 percent of irrigated land globally

From the Aral Sea basin in central Asia to the San Joaquin Valley of California, 20 percent of the world's irrigated land is degraded by salt buildup, says a study by United Nations University.