By Jennifer Chaussee
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – California’s drought is expected to cost the state an estimated $2.2 billion this year, along with a loss of more than 17,000 jobs, as farmers are forced to fallow some valuable crops, a report by scientists at the University of California in Davis showed on Tuesday.
The report stressed the need for local governments to better manage emergency water reserves, including using measurement tools to track the amount of groundwater that is used during dry years and a statewide system for transporting stored water to where it is needed.
“The 2014 drought is responsible for the greatest absolute reduction in water availability for California agriculture ever seen,” the report said, adding that the results “underscore California’s heavy reliance on groundwater to cope with droughts.”
“Without replenishing groundwater in wet years, water tables fall and both reduce regional pumping capacity and increase pumping energy costs,” it said.
The report, funded in part by the state’s agriculture and water resources departments, was released hours before state water regulators were to consider rolling out new conservation rules that could put strict limits on the amount of water people are allowed to use and impose fines on those who violate the restrictions.
California is in the third year of a catastrophic drought that has diminished the Sierra Nevada snow pack, which normally feeds the state’s rivers and streams with cool water.
Democratic Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in January, committing millions to help stricken communities and temporarily easing protections for endangered fish to allow pumping from the fragile San Joaquin-Sacramento River delta.
UC Davis scientists Richard Howitt and Jay Lund, who co-authored the report, said pockets along the state’s Central Valley, where farmers are relying on emergency groundwater reserves as other water resources have run dry, will be hit especially hard by economic losses.
Overall, the drought is expected to cause $2.2 billion in total economic losses in California this year, the report said. The estimated crop revenue loss amounts to $810 million, mostly due to water shortages that have forced many farmers to let their fields lie fallow.
Some 60 percent of fallowed cropland, where farmers once irrigated grazing fields or grew annual crops such as corn and beans, are in the San Joaquin Valley, where 70 percent of the state’s agricultural revenue loss is concentrated.
Most of the 17,100 lost jobs, including seasonal and part-time agriculture work, are in the San Joaquin Valley. California ranchers also have begun selling their livestock in droves to ranchers in the northwestern U.S. states.
“It’s critical that Californians develop an ethic of water preservation,” said Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, stressing the need for more water storage and for capturing water run off during storms.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bill Trott)
Oregon comedian says a Trump supporter punched him in the face for mocking the president
A longtime comedian from Portland, Oregon is claiming that a supporter of President Donald Trump punched him in the face after he mocked the president during his routine.
Local news station KATU 2 reports that Joe Fontenot says that he was given a black eye during his Saturday night show after he made a joke ridiculing Trump's proposed "Space Force."
Right after making the joke, an offended Trump supporter stood up in the audience and shouted, "Make America great again," Fontenot claims.
How the conservative right hijacks religion
Democrats are beginning to challenge the Republican grip on the language of religion and faith in the United States. Democrat Sen. Chris Coons, a graduate of Yale Divinity School, recently wrote an essay for The Atlantic, “Democrats Need to Talk About Their Faith.”
This is a bold and necessary move. However, it may come up against scientific and progressive resistance. This resistance is based on the claim that science and religion, or religion and progressive politics, are incompatible.
Democrats mulling revenge against Mitch McConnell over his treatment of Merrick Garland
A report from Politico indicates that there is a battle within the Democratic Party on how much power they will exert placing judges on federal benches should they retake the White House in 2020.
Citing the way that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) held open the Supreme Court seat that was supposed to be filled by Chief United States Circuit Judge Merrick Garland, only to have Trump nominate conservative jurist Neil Gorsuch to the court, Democrats are considering using hardball tactics of their own.