Friday, April 24, 2015

Increased bypass flooding may sink local agriculture, report says

Rice fields on Conaway Ranch are seeded by plane in May 2010. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

From page A1 | May 05, 2013 |

A proposal to increase flooding in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, with seemingly harmless intentions of promoting fish habitat, has drawn opposition for its discovered implications for the local economy.

The opposition is based on foresight afforded by UC Davis researchers, and a recent study, “Agricultural and Economic Impacts of Yolo Bypass Fish Habitat Proposals.” The study identified potential for an adverse effect on the area’s rice industry, Yolo County’s second most lucrative crop.

The report found that flooding up to half of the 57,000 acres of the Yolo Bypass, as was proposed, would mean up to  $9 million per year in lost revenue if the flooding did not heed the importance of the agricultural calendar.

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is proposing the increased flooding as an offset to the environmental impact that constructing twin water supply tunnels around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would have.

It’s a concept that neither Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza nor his peers take issue with, but it came into question after the recent study thoroughly examined various scenarios for its execution. The worst case is that $9 million figure.

“What we’ve found is that some of those scenarios could result in a catastrophic effect on our agricultural industry,” Provenza said. “The problem is that we grow a lot of rice, and this crop does not do well with water in planting seasons.”

In its research of crop patterns, the study reiterated what many farmers already know — fields must be dry for planting rice. And if they’re not, the crop is nearly impossible to grow, or otherwise too much of a risk for farmers to try to do so.

“If you don’t stop the flooding by March, you’re going to have increasingly greater impacts on our ability to grow rice,” Provenza said. “We think that you reach a tipping point in which there’s no more rice at all in the bypass.”

But the report also outlined a positive — or at least, comparatively less detrimental — outlook if certain actions are performed. For example, if the additional flooding at the rate of 6,000 cubic feet per second is halted by mid-February, it would reduce the burden on the economy to $241,000 every year.

That’s still a large amount of money, Provenza said, but it’s at least manageable. Confining flooding to the eastern portion of the bypass also would mitigate financial damage.

“You could also do additional flooding in years that are going to be flooded out,” he added. “Some years there’s so much water that the farmers aren’t able to plant crops anyway.”

It’s not just the Yolo County rice industry that may be interfered with; an auxiliary repercussion might be the flood conveyance properties of the bypass.

“Of course, the rice is important, because of its economic value,” Provenza said, “but in addition to that, the fact that farmers plow the fields every year is important to flood control.

“In areas like the Sutter Bypass, where there’s no active farming, you have a lot of plant growth, which reduces the flood holding capacity. The Yolo Bypass is primarily designed as protection against flooding.”

It’s one of the areas that is to be tested as more funding is sought for additional studies, which will include further analysis of the impacts on local agriculture and animal habitats.

The initial study — on the potential blow to the agricultural industry — was reviewed by state officials, Provenza said, and the response was favorable.

Consequently, Yolo County’s leaders are optimistic, but they still believe the public should be apprised of this project’s indefinite status.

“We’re concerned because the original proposals — the ones that may have a catastrophic effect on our county — are still on the table,” Provenza explained.

The next step for Yolo County’s leaders is ensuring that one of those aforementioned alternatives is embraced by the state. To that end, Provenza said, a memorandum of understanding has already been put forward that commits to pursue the benign options for implementation of the plan and provides compensation to Yolo County for any economic loss incurred in the process.

Provenza suggested there’s a way to find a solution by compromise, but it’s not going to be by means of haste or shortsightedness.

“I think it’s doable,” he explained. “It just takes the willingness to work with us and to work with our farmers.”

— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett



  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    New design submitted for conference center

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Water and power have a troubling interdependency

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Bob Dunning: Fairness is an afterthought for them

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Los Angeles march to commemorate Armenian killings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Hostage deaths a reminder of risk of ‘deadly mistakes’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Walkers head out three times weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

    Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Beginning tai chi classes start May 5

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    College Night set April 30 at DHS

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    School board hears report on health services

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

    Tour of co-ops precedes Sacramento conference

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Mamajowali will perform at benefit house concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Explorit: Celebrate International Astronomy Day

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Learn basics of composting in Woodland

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Winkler Dinner raises funds for enology, viticulture activities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Raptor Center welcomes visitors at May 2 open house

    By Trina Wood | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Take a peek at region’s past at Tremont Mite Society’s social

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    BeerFest expands to include cider

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Mapping where human action is causing earthquakes

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A9

    Hummingbird health: Appreciating the little things

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A12 | Gallery



    Thanks for supporting the arts

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Bike Swap another success

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Drink is a tasteless insult

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

    The fight for gender pay equity

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

    It’s a depressing beat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5



    Lehner talks about the UCD student-athlete experience

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Reeling Blue Devils stop skid against Sheldon

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie Spring Game environment will up the gridiron fun factor

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Rare DHS track loss still full of highlights

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    DYSA roundup: Lester, Osborne lead Storm over Dixon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Lady Demons’ fundraiser a smash hit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Pro baseball roundup: River Cats lose their fourth straight

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B12





    ‘Ex Machina': The perils of playing God

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    Ceramicist works will be featured at The Artery

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery



    Chamber expands Korean sister-city opportunities

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Car Care: Tips for buying your first ATV

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

    Subaru goes rear-wheel drive with sporty BRZ coupe

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B7 | Gallery



    Whitney Joy Engler

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Valente Forrest Dolcini

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Friday, April 24, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B5