Ag Alert County Corner: Farmers pursue flood control solutions after deluge
This January brought a major flooding event to the Cosumnes River watershed in Sacramento County. Flooding in the watershed is a well-known occurrence. But monitoring of this last undammed river in the Central Valley shows that the storm brought the second highest flows since the massive 1997 flooding, which caused multiple levee breaks that inundated southern Sacramento County farming communities.
This time, floodwaters flowed differently than in most past events. Rainfall in the Sacramento region caused extreme water flows in area rivers. The Cosumnes River overflowed its banks, broke through levees once again and caused widespread flooding of our local communities and agricultural lands.
Extreme wind toppled trees and power lines, and caused additional damage. Due to multiple levee failures along the Cosumnes River, farmland and perennial crops were buried in sand and debris, irrigation infrastructure was destroyed, livestock and aquaculture ponds were destroyed, and equipment and some structures were destroyed or greatly damaged.
Impacts to our local agricultural producers and businesses topped $38 million in damages and projected lost revenues, the Sacramento County Agricultural Commissioner’s office reported.
The largest damage was to winegrapes, with almost 4,000 acres impacted, and tomatoes, with over 1,600 acres affected. Other notable crops with losses include alfalfa, wheat and oats. Some agricultural lands in the lower river basin are still under some water as of this month.
Agriculture produces over $568 million worth of agricultural products in Sacramento County. The region’s top commodities include winegrapes, milk, pears, nursery stock, poultry, cherries, aquaculture, hay, field corn and cattle. Read More.
unimpaired flow standards
The State Water Resources Control Board is updating the Sacramento-San Joaquin River BayDelta Water Quality Control Plan—a review of water quality standards, including instream flow requirements.
The State Water Resources Control Board is updating the Sacramento-San Joaquin River BayDelta Water Quality Control Plan—a review of water quality standards, including instream flow requirements. As part of the multiyear, phased update, board staff proposes significant increases in river flows intended to benefit protected fish. CFBF considers the proposals for unimpaired flows to be excessive and unnecessary—particularly in light of superior “functional flow” and “non-flow” alternatives developed by local districts to increase fish populations while ensuring the reasonable and beneficial use of available water resources for all purposes. Learn more:
General Information Regarding Water Board’s Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan Update
Sacramento Valley and Eastern Delta Tribs Info
San Joaquin Tributary Flows Info
irrigated lands regulatory program
The Regional Water Quality Control Boards regulate discharges from irrigated agricultural lands to surface water and groundwater through the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program.
This program applies to anyone in agriculture who irrigates and has runoff with the potential to pollute the waters of the state. Runoff even includes the water resulting from storm events if it leaves the property. An irrigator is not exempt because his/her property is not adjacent to a water body, as water can travel over neighboring ground. Also, the irrigator must be involved in the selling of something off their land (even if they just take their crop to a farmers market or sell a cow). There is no maximum and no minimum size limit on irrigated acreage. This program does include managed wetlands and wild rice, however, this program does not cover conventional rice covered under the California Rice Commission or dairy land covered under a dairy permit.
The program has been adopted by the Regional Water Board (March 2014). Irrigators who are subject to runoff must obtain coverage for their waste discharges under a Coalition Group or file directly with the Regional Water Board. Farm Bureau encourages irrigators to contact the Sacramento-Amador Water Quality Coalition for more information.
See the approved General Order here: Order R5-2014-0030
sustainable groundwater management act
SGMA is the most significant change to water law in a century and will significantly impact farmers and ranchers throughout California during the next 50 years.
SGMA – The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA) requires most areas that rely heavily on groundwater to develop and implement a plan to ensure each basin will be sustainably managed during the next 50 years. SGMA is the most significant change to water law in a century and will significantly impact farmers and ranchers throughout California.
The South American Groundwater Subbasin (SASb), is how six Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) in the SASb are responding to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP).