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