Friday, July 25, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Recent rainfall doesn’t change outlook for Yolo farmers

By
From page A1 | February 12, 2014 |

WOODLAND — Last week’s rainfall didn’t do much for Yolo County’s surface water supply, county supervisors were told Tuesday. In fact, the long-awaited series of storms didn’t really do anything at all to improve the outlook for local farmers.

Yolo County receives surface water from storage in Clear Lake and the Indian Valley reservoir, both of which remain too low to tap even after the recent rainfall, said Tim O’Halloran, general manager of the Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.

“We’re in a dire situation in terms of water storage,” O’Halloran told supervisors.

The recent storms, he said, only raised the water level in Clear Lake by half a foot, “and we need to get another two feet for us to get water.”

The Indian Valley reservoir is in similar shape, he said.

In fact, O’Halloran said, conditions at Indian Valley have redefined the meaning of “drought” for him.

Back in December, he said, he received a call that the reservoir was on fire. He assumed that meant the trees around the reservoir were on fire. In fact, it was the trees that used to be submerged under water but were now standing on dry ground at the bottom of the reservoir that were burning.

“That’s my new definition of drought, when your reservoir is on fire,” O’Halloran said.

The water district ultimately closed the campground at Indian Valley on Jan. 27 because of drought-caused conditions — namely, the intake pump for the water treatment plant was above the water line, eliminating the ability to produce potable water for drinking and sanitation.

Yolo County farmers — who receive virtually all of the surface water that the county gets from Clear Lake and the reservoir — have been told to prepare for no water deliveries, and to make crop choices accordingly, O’Halloran said.

Already, the impact is being seen, said Yolo County Agricultural Commissioner John Young.

There will be no rice or wheat growing in some parts of the county, organic farmers who previously relied solely on surface water will not be planting, and corn, sunflower and other crops are likely to be reduced, Young said.

But the biggest impact of the drought will be on livestock, he added, because with no feed available in the dry hills, ranchers are forced to buy expensive hay. Many will sell off their livestock, he said, and many won’t recover from the losses.

Asked by supervisors what the impact will be on the county — including property tax assessments — Young said that won’t be known for a while.

“We’re really not going to know the extent of the drought damage until the summer of 2015,” he said.

One thing that will be seen more immediately, he said, “is a spike in unemployment.”

With no crops to farm, staff will be laid off.

If there was good news coming out of the water update on Tuesday, it was a recommendation from the county’s coordinator of emergency services that drought conditions locally do not yet warrant a disaster proclamation by the county.

OES coordinator Dana Carey said previous disaster declarations by the governor and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have opened the way for farmers to apply for emergency farm loans and injury disaster loans and future federal funding would be available via the state’s disaster proclamation.

“We’re not recommending a disaster (proclamation) at this point,” Carey told supervisors, “but that doesn’t mean we won’t (eventually).”

Carey outlined specific triggers that would warrant a county declaration, including if any city within the county intended to proclaim a disaster, “we would recommend a county declaration,” because it would cover all communities within the county.

Similarly, if a request from a special district or UC Davis came in, that would warrant a proclamation, as would evidence that fire suppression or drinking water supplies were endangered.

Carey said her office is currently in regular contact with the fire department in Dunnigan where the water supply is in question.

O’Halloran, meanwhile, told supervisors that groundwater supplies that serve Davis, Woodland and Winters, as well as UC Davis and many farms, “are in pretty good shape.”

But how long that will continue without further rainfall is unclear. And with surface water supplies depleted or nonexistent, farmers will be pumping more and more of that groundwater.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy.

 

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Posts

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

  • .

    News

    California climate change policies to hit our pocketbooks

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

     
    Tech Trekkers boldly go into STEM fields

    By Amy Jiang | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Decoding breast milk secrets reveals clues to lasting health

    By Pat Bailey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Carwash raises funds for funeral expenses

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: Hey, we want more than one thin dime

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Appeals court upholds high-speed rail route

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Artists, photographers invited to support Yolo Basin Foundation

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Unitarians will host summer camp

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Sudwerk’s sales grow, floating on a sea of dry hop lager

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Wetlands visitors will see migrating shorebirds

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    ‘Bak2Sac’ free train ride program launched

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Explorit: Wonderful wetlands right at home

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Recycle old paint cans for free

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Where your gas money goes

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A12

    Americans, internationals make connections

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

     
    Can you give them a home?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16 | Gallery

    STEAC needs donations of personal care items

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16, 1 Comment

     
    .

    Forum

    Trio disagrees on best option

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Thanks for emergency help

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Commenting system to change

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10, 16 Comments

     
    Support these local restaurants

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Let’s get the bench repaired

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

     
    Predicting climate changes

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

    Clinton’s book is worth a read

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

     
    .

    Sports

    Hudson solid, Hamels better in Giants’ loss

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Petrovic, Putnam share Canadian Open lead

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Moss powers A’s past Astros

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Enriquez brilliant, but Post 77 season ends with Area 1 loss

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    The un-Armstrong? Tour ‘boss’ Nibali wins Stage 18

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘A Most Wanted Man’: Superb espionage drama

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Clyde Elmore: Art in the Wild

    By Evan Arnold-Gordon | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Musicians perform at Sunday service

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A17 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Accord’s latest model is most fuel efficient

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Mary Lita Bowen

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    James Thomas Feather

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Richard ‘Dick’ Robenalt

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, July 25, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A13

     
    .

    Real Estate Review

    Featured Listing

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

    Professional Services Directory

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

    Remax

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

    Sherman Home

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Tracy Harris

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4