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Too wet outside to work? Watch a drought video

'Groundwater and surface water interactions under water shortage,' Thomas Harter's presentation, has been viewed nearly 1,400 times.
Rain has begun falling, but California continues to operate under severe water scarcity from low precipitation over the past three years.

“California will need about 150 percent of normal rainfall this winter to end the drought,” said Doug Parker, director of UC California Institute of Water Resources. “Although the rains have come, we can't afford to let our attention drift away from carefully managing our water supply.”

The UC California Institute of Water Resources, with support from the California Department of Water Resources, has recorded presentations by scientists in the UC system and other organizations on a variety of topics related to water management and drought. “Insights: Water and Drought Online Seminar Series” is accessible by computer or mobile device.

The online seminars enable UC Cooperative Extension and the other scientists to share their knowledge with a larger audience than those who can attend meetings in person, said Daniele Zaccaria, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in agricultural water management in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis.

“Farmers, landscape professionals, land managers, irrigation consultants, resource managers from water districts and others can view the half-hour video presentations on YouTube whenever it is convenient for them, obtaining science-based information that stems from applied research conducted by several scientists over the last 10 to 15 years,” said Zaccaria, who coordinates the speaker series.

Lynn Ingram's presentation on 'Climate change and paleoclimatology: 2013/2014 in perspective' has been more than 800 times.
Topics include drought impacts on natural resources, drought preparedness, water management in urban landscapes during a drought and crop management with limited water.

Currently 39 videos addressing drought and water management in different settings are available, and more talks will be added in the coming months. The videos are also being used by Cooperative Extension in other states and have been viewed hundreds of times. “Groundwater and surface water interactions under water shortage,” by Thomas Harter, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis, has been viewed nearly 1,400 times and “Climate change and paleoclimatology: 2013/2014 in perspective” by Lynn Ingram, professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley, has been more than 800 times.

The following titles have recently been added:

Water resources management in the Pajaro Valley, California
Brian Lockwood, senior hydrologist, Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency

Managing corn under California's drought conditions
Mark Lundy, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Sutter, Yuba and Glenn counties

Droughts, climate change, and dams: Reconciling a future for California's native inland fishes
Peter Moyle, professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology at UC Davis

Managing landscapes on limited water
Loren Oki, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis

Drought - An insidious stress on wildlife
Greg Giusti, UC Cooperative Extension advisor, forests and wildland ecology in Mendocino County

Agricultural water management practices under limited water supply: Lessons from recent droughts
James E. Ayars, agricultural engineer, USDA-ARS

Soil moisture monitoring and utilization during a drought
Dan Munk, UC Cooperative Extension advisor, irrigation, soils and cotton in Fresno County

Land subsidence along the Delta-Mendota Canal and neighboring areas
Michelle Sneed, California Water Science Center, US Geological Survey 

How to save water and beautify your landscape ... the sustainable way
Janet Hartin, UC Cooperative Extension advisor, environmental horticulture in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties

Efficient citrus irrigation
Blake Sanden, UC Cooperative Extension advisor, irrigation and soils in Kern County

Using agroecological practices to enhance the resilience of organic farms to drought
Miguel A. Altieri, professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley

The drought videos are available at and

Posted on Monday, December 15, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Growing wine grapes without irrigation possible for some, not all

It's easier to grow wine grapes without irrigation in the Napa Valley, which receives more rainfall than the San Joaquin Valley.
California's ongoing drought is raising the interest of wine grape growers in dryland farming, reported David Pierson in the LA Times. Pierson interviewed Napa Valley growers who are already dry farming their vineyards. While it may be feasible to rely solely on rainfall in the Napa Valley, San Joaquin Valley growers would have a hard time setting a grape crop without irrigation.

"If you don't water in the San Joaquin Valley, you're not getting a yield," Larry Williams, a professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis and based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, told Pierson.

Last month Sacramento Bee columnist Mike Dunne used Williams' study of water use of chardonnay grapes in the Carneros Region to refute the amount of water a Dutch researcher claimed was required to produce a single glass of wine. “In California vineyards and cellars, is 29 gallons of water to produce a single glass of wine a realistic estimate?” Dunne asked Williams, who explained that California grape yields per gallon of water are much higher than in Europe.

“The mean yield of wine grapes in Europe ... is around 1.8 tons per acre using data I've gleaned from research papers,” Williams says. “The mean chardonnay yields across California are 7.4 tons per acre.”

Based on Williams' research, Dunne wrote, “Vines of the dry-farmed portion yielded 4.9 tons per acre, while vines on the irrigated portion produced 6.3 tons per acre. The upshot was that 14.2 gallons of water was needed in the dry-farmed block to produce a typical 4-ounce pour of wine, while 15.3 gallons of water was needed in the irrigated parcel to produce a 4-ounce pour of wine, totals far lower than the figure calculated by the Water Footprint Network.”

Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 4:34 PM
Tags: drought (15), Larry Williams (1), Water (72), wine grapes (1)

UCCE's Larry Forero is helping ranchers cope with drought

UCCE advisor Larry Forero is helping Shasta and Trinity county ranchers make water-use decisions.
The California drought is helping UC Cooperative Extension advisor Larry Forero focus his outreach program. Forero is working closely with livestock producers to help them maximize the benefit they get from the water they have available, according to a profile of the farm advisor written by Tim Hearden and published in Capital Press.

The story said Forero is working with a rancher in eastern Shasta County to measure the efficiency of well water on irrigated pasture. He plans to share results with other ranchers at "irrigation school" in January. (Date and location TBA at

“If they're over-irrigating in September or October, could we do something different with that water?” Forero said. “What we're hoping with this irrigation school is to get this real-time data out there and share it with participants so they can look at what alternatives they might develop with irrigation scheduling.”

Forero is well-positioned to help with new regulations that will likely come down now that Gov. Brown has signed legislation that will give the state water board broad control over groundwater in California. Forero has experience helping farmers comply with new regulations.

In 2012, when local farmers with surface water rights had to begin submitting precise monthly water-use records, Forero and his colleague UCCE advisor Allan Fulton wrote a paper that explained how to measure surface water diversion.

"What we really tried to do," Forero said, "is make it so it wasn't so overwhelming that people said, 'I don't have time to do this.' From a Cooperative Extension perspective, we don't buy, sell or regulate. We try to provide ideas for folks, and what they do with them is up to them.”


Posted on Monday, November 17, 2014 at 1:24 PM
Tags: Larry Forero (2), water (72)

UC scientists share national award for water conservation project

Using microirrigation to grow almonds, growers have improved water use efficiency.
California's ongoing drought has made it even more critical for growers to get the most crop per drop of water used. Scientists from UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Davis and other land-grant universities were recently honored by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities for their years of research to help farmers better use microirrigation systems to sustainably irrigate their land.

The 2014 Experiment Station Section Excellence in Multistate Research Award presented by the Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy on Nov. 2 recognizes the universities' exceptional collaboration on a multistate research project.

Patrick Brown, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, Jan Hopmans, professor in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis, Larry Schwankl, UC Cooperative Extension specialist emeritus, and Ken Shackel, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, are the UC researchers participating in the project “Microirrigation for Sustainable Water Use.”

"The Multistate Research Program is one of the best kept secrets of the land-grant university system, and this award recognizes outstanding interdependent efforts of researchers and extension specialists that have come together to tackle a priority issue that no one institution can address on their own,” said H. Michael Harrington, executive director of the Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors. “This microirrigation project was selected out of more than 300 multistate projects because, since 1972, the group has made major advances in sustainable agriculture and water conservation.”

Using more precise irrigation management, California growers have increased water use efficiency on processing tomatoes by 54 percent and on almonds by 33 percent since 1990.

Conventional irrigation systems that apply high volumes of water over wide areas can lose a lot of water through runoff, wind, or evaporation. As a result, conventional irrigation systems often over water or under water plants. Instead, microirrigation, or drip, systems use special timers, sensors, and a network of narrow tubes to deliver the right amount of water at the right time.

In the last five years, the group's research has led to new microirrigation equipment and tools that are easier to install, more durable, and more precise. These advances, along with engagement with farmers, have encouraged adoption of microirrigation systems, which has led to significant economic and environmental impacts.

“As director of USDA-NIFA, my goal is to ensure the science we invest in leads to solutions to today's most pressing challenges,” said Sonny Ramaswamy. “One of those challenges is finding ways to feed the growing population while minimally impacting the environment. A safe, reliable supply of water is inextricably linked to food security. The five-fold increase in irrigated acres that took place during the 20th century cannot be repeated in the 21st century — there isn't the space. Instead, we must increase efficiency of the irrigated farmland we have, and that is what this project is doing.”

In addition to UC, other participating land-grant institutions include Auburn University, University of Arizona, Colorado State University, University of Florida, University of Hawaii, University of Idaho, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Mississippi State University, University of Nebraska, New Mexico State University, Cornell University, Oregon State University, University of Puerto Rico, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, University of the Virgin Islands, Washington State University, and University of Wyoming. The universities collaborated with the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and Agricultural Research Service.

The award was presented by ESCOP chair Bob Shulstad and Ramaswamy at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

The project's name will be added to a plaque at the USDA Waterfront Centre in Washington, D.C., and the group will receive $15,000 to support their ongoing work. The group's continued efforts are more critical than ever as the U.S. continues to experience extreme droughts that threaten water supplies and crops that depend on irrigation.

These efforts are supported, in part, through USDA-NIFA by the Multistate Research Fund, established in 1998 by the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act (an amendment to the Hatch Act of 1888) to encourage and enhance multistate, multidisciplinary agricultural research on critical issues. Additional funds were provided by contracts and grants to participating scientists. For more information about the microirrigation project, visit



Posted on Monday, November 3, 2014 at 4:13 PM

$7.12 billion state water bond to appear on November ballot

The 70-year-old Shasta Dam forms the largest reservoir in California.
The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1) is set to appear on the November 2014 ballot. If approved by voters, it would “authorize $7.12 billion in general obligation bonds for state water supply infrastructure projects, such as public water system improvements, surface and groundwater storage, drinking water protection, water recycling and advanced water treatment technology, water supply management and conveyance, wastewater treatment, drought relief, emergency water supplies, and ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration.”

Per the full text of the proposition, the distribution of funds would be approximately as follows:

$810 million for expenditures and competitive grants and loans to integrated regional water management plan projects.

$520 million to improve water quality for “beneficial use,” for reducing and preventing drinking water contaminants in disadvantaged communities, and creating the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund Small Community Grant Fund.

$725 million for water recycling and advanced water treatment technology projects.

$900 million for competitive grants, and loans for projects to prevent or clean up the contamination of groundwater that serves as a source of drinking water.

$1.495 billion for competitive grants for multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects including:

  • Conservancies $327.5M.
  • Wildlife Conservation Board $200M (restoration of flows)
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife $285M (out of delta, no mitigation on Bay Delta Conservation Plan)
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife $87.5M (in delta with constraints)
  • State settlement obligations including CVPIA $475M
  • Rivers and creeks $120M

$2.7 billion for water storage projects, dams and reservoirs.

$395 million for statewide flood management projects and activities

To read the full text of the proposition visit Ballotpedia.

Posted on Monday, August 18, 2014 at 3:11 PM
Tags: Drought (15), Proposition 1 (1), water (72)

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