Sunday, January 25, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Local leaders fret over bypass flooding plan

Delta1w

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta stretches out below in this aerial photograph. Paul Hames, California Department of Water Resources/Courtesy photo

By
From page A1 | December 18, 2013 |

As state and federal officials gather input on the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan, Yolo County’s leaders are answering loud and clear that they’re worried the plan will harm Yolo’s agricultural sector.

The plan is to install three water intakes on the Sacramento River that feed an underground tunnel system carrying water to pumps in the south Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But the local problem emerges from a conservation measure that’s been proposed to mitigate the environmental impact of the conveyance facilities.

One piece of that proposal, known as Conservation Measure 2, would target thousands of acres of rich farmland in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area for increased flooding. The flooding intends to create a safe passage for fish, like salmon, that are attracted into the bypass.

However, in April a UC Davis study found that if the flooding were to extend into certain sensitive months for rice farmers, the county’s second most valuable crop would fail to grow — causing up to $9 million per year in lost revenue.

The report prompted local leaders like Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza to voice concerns about the ambiguous lack of guarantee that the well-intended flooding would respect the agricultural calendar.

Despite the opposition, in the public draft that was released on Dec. 9 there’s no confirmation that Yolo’s rice farming would not be jeopardized by allowing flooding to continue into April or May.

“This plan hasn’t changed all that much,” Provenza said. “There’s maybe a nod to Yolo County in some statements in there — stressing the importance of agriculture — but nothing concrete.

“There’s nothing that would require them to balance their habitat planning and tunnels against the needs of agriculture. What we do in Yolo County is we consider and balance the various interests in making plans.”

Also, he further explained, with the way the plan is drafted now, the program will give the state’s water agency control over a large swath of Yolo County land for the next 50 years.

The language of the proposal mandates adaptive management, which creates another issue: If the conservation benefits aren’t meeting expectations set by the state, adaptive management allows extra measures to be taken. But the governing of this, Provenza insists, must adhere to county interests.

The local politician gave an example of the sort of thing that may happen with adaptive management sans any county voice on the governing committee:

“One thing they could do to meet federal requirements is to reduce water supply south, but the other thing they could do is to put the whole burden on our county, or delta counties, by taking more land out of farming,” Provenza said.

He hopes the county’s officials will be able to take some role in the project’s adaptive management, especially when the county is already facing a $9 million hit to agriculture if no heed to paid to Yolo’s current concerns.

“We think it’s possible to have a significant benefit for salmon and other habitat populations using the bypass without significantly harming agriculture,” he said. “We want to help find that balance.”

If Yolo County must endure an unavoidable economic blow, Provenza wants the county to be adequately compensated. Yolo’s agricultural sector should not be shouldering the financial burden, he said.

Establishing an agreement for the county to recoup any economic loss is something he is hoping the state will commit to in a memorandum of understanding.

As far as getting federal officials to agree to suggestions such as these, the county supervisor is equal parts optimistic and wary.

“We’ve been meeting once a month with (California Secretary for Natural Resources) John Laird, and we’ve had good discussions,” Provenza explained. “We’ve been hopeful that we’ll make progress, and will continue to be.

“But up to this point, the concrete assurances that we need haven’t been there. We need to know — fairly soon, too — that our interests are going to be protected. … We don’t have much more time.”

The subsequent draft the state is producing is going to be the final proposal. June has been designated as the target for its completion. Implementation will come thereafter, with the exception of potential delays.

Support for the project from Provenza and his colleagues on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors hinges on whether their concerns are addressed in the forthcoming proposal.

If issues remain after the planning phase concludes, Provenza attested to the willingness of local leaders to explore other solutions:

“We’d have to examine our legal and political options at that point. We’re not there yet, but we’re very serious about ensuring that our county’s interests are protected.”

— Reach Brett Johnson at bjohnson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

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

  • .

    News

    Four days of unusual, adventuresome music

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Bridges of Yolo County: Wear, tear … repair?

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    GOP presses state bills limiting gay rights before ruling

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Abortion opponents express renewed hope at California rally

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Spanish police arrest 4 suspected members of a jihadi cell

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Rockets kill 30 in Ukrainian city as rebels launch offensive

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Abe ‘speechless’ after video claims IS hostage dead

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Fake schools draw federal scrutiny

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Winter produce available at Sutter market

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Vote for your favorites in Readers’ Choice poll

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Sip wines at St. James’ annual tasting

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Share your love (story) with us

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Donations to be distributed during homeless count

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

     
    Speaker will share computer security tips

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Logos Books celebrates 5 years, offers language groups

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Australian olive oil company opens U.S. headquarters in Woodland

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Explore at the YOLO Outdoor Expo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Yolo animal shelter seeking rawhide donations

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A5

    Woodland Healthcare employees take Great Kindness Challenge

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    At the Pond: Nest boxes give birds new homes

    By Jean Jackman | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    California ranks worst in nation for guidance counselors

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Davis, Woodland are saving water

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A12

    Words and Music Festival events

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Forum

     
    Caring for the aging mouth

    By Samer Alassaad | From Page: A8

     
    We have the right to choose

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    We don’t have to suffer

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    City helped immensely

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Rick McKee cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

     
    Big utilities’ nightmare begins to play out

    By Tom Elias | From Page: A10

    Mayor’s Corner: Let’s renew Davis together

    By Dan Wolk | From Page: A10

     
    From innovation parks to innovative buildings and planning

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

    When measles spreads from Disneyland, it’s a small world after all

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Sports

    Loud crowd sees DHS boys win

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Lady Devils hold off Pacers, stay perfect in league

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Wildcats’ inaugural kids development league exceeds expectations

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggies get top 2015 gymnastics score, but fall short

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD men take two tennis matches

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

     
    Watney in ninth at Humana Challenge

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Davis man focusing on cannabidiol business

    By Will Bellamy | From Page: A9

     
    Marrone Bio’s Regalia approved for new uses in Canada

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

     
    UCD grad makes insurance ‘hot 100′ list

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, January 25, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8