Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Farm Bureau: CVP water allocations show limits of system

From the California Farm Bureau Federation:
Today’s water supply announcement from the federal Central Valley Project shows the resiliency of nature and the limitations of California’s water supply system, according to the president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. After a wintertime recovery in precipitation, CFBF President Paul Wenger said “it’s a shame” the CVP can’t assure full water supplies to all of its customers.

“Just look at the numbers,” Wenger said. “The Sierra snowpack stands at 186 percent of average. Most key reservoirs hold higher-than-average supplies for the time of year. If the CVP can’t assure full supplies to all of its customers this year, what would be needed for that to happen?

“We understand this is a fish-first system now,” he continued, “because federal fisheries agencies have the first and last call on CVP water. We know the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act that Congress passed last year will help. But we obviously need to take further action to modernize our water system, our laws and our policies.

“One wet year won’t erase our long-term surface water deficit, and the current fish-first policies have also harmed groundwater supplies—an impact that is both serious and inexcusable.

“Farm Bureau remains committed to achieving a water system that benefits both our environment and our economy. We believe that can be achieved and we believe we can learn from wet years such as this one as well as from dry years. We will continue to work with elected representatives and agency officials with that goal in mind.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 48,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.

NWS: Wet pattern to return this weekend, next week

From the National Weather Service:
Dry weather will continue through early Saturday. Confidence is increasing that another storm will impact Northern California Saturday afternoon into Sunday. Active pattern might continue into next week. Please stay tuned as we firm up details for each storm.

Mountain travel delays with possible chain controls
Wet Valley roads with travel delays

Forecast Confidence
Medium on return to wet pattern
Low on timing details, precipitation amounts

Timing and Strength
Saturday afternoon - Sunday

See forecast map for early estimates
Snow levels ~5500-6000 feet; lowering to ~4500 feet Sunday evening
Breezy to locally gusty winds Sunday mainly northern Valley
Wet pattern may continue into next week
Check here and at CapitalPress.com for updates.

Central Valley farmers to get full federal water allocations

From a news release:
The Bureau of Reclamation today announced the initial 2017 water supply allocation for Central Valley Project contractors in the Friant Division, Eastside Division and Municipal & Industrial Water Service Contractors in the American River Division.

“The 2017 water year has been an extreme year thus far, with precipitation throughout the Central Valley on track to be the highest in our historic records,” said Reclamation’s Acting Mid-Pacific Regional Director Pablo Arroyave. “As such, Reclamation is taking an approach to the announcement of CVP water allocations this year that differs from our historic practice.”

Given that inflow to Shasta Lake has already exceeded the volume necessary to be certain that this is not declared a Shasta Critical Year, Reclamation has notified the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors, San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors and Refuge Contractors of that fact. Regarding the remainder of the allocations to CVP contractors, although the CVP is operationally integrated, each individual reservoir has unique and specific operational criteria that must also be met. With this initial allocation announcement, Reclamation is targeting districts that receive water directly from Folsom, New Melones and Millerton reservoirs given the large snow pack and unusually high projected runoff this spring and summer.

The remaining water service contractors can expect an initial contract allocation amount in mid-to-late March. As Reclamation continues to refine the water supply allocation for these contractors, Reclamation will take advantage of the current hydrology to ensure specific districts’ water needs are met to the maximum extent practicable. While this allocation approach is warranted now, in future years Reclamation will continue to strive to release initial allocations for all water users in February.

Specific to the South-of-Delta water service contractors, a substantial amount of CVP water is already in storage south of the Delta, and the Federal share of San Luis Reservoir will be full within the first week of March. Given the extraordinary large snow pack and very high river flows this year, much of the water currently in storage in the Federal share of San Luis Reservoir will be available for delivery to CVP water service contractors this spring and summer.

Reclamation currently estimates that at least 900 thousand acre-feet of water will be available for delivery to South-of-Delta water service contractors this year, and additional supplies will likely be available once seasonal operational forecasts are developed later in March. The 900 taf estimate represents the combined delivery of both 2017 CVP supplies and carryover supplies from last year. The exact amount of each type of supply is subject to hydrologic conditions this spring, and the overall allocation of water south of the Delta must be validated by the operational studies to be based on the March 1 snow surveys and runoff forecasts.

The California Department of Water Resources reports that as of Feb. 27, 2017, the statewide average snow water equivalent in the Sierra Nevada was 45 inches, as compared to 21 inches on Feb. 27, 2016. Precipitation is currently over 200 percent of the seasonal average to date for the Sierra Nevada for this point in the water year (beginning Oct. 1, 2016).

Reclamation determines the allocation of water for CVP contractors based upon many factors, including hydrologic conditions, reservoir storage levels, water quality requirements, water rights, contractual obligations and endangered species protection measures. After evaluating these factors, Reclamation is announcing the initial allocation to the following:

American River Division Contractors
American River Division M&I water service contractors will receive 100 percent of their contract supply.

Friant Division Contractors
Pursuant to Reclamation’s previous discussions with Friant Division contractors and based upon Millerton Lake storage as well as current and forecasted hydrologic conditions in the Upper San Joaquin River Basin, the Friant Division allocation is 100 percent of Class 1 supplies. In addition, as long as current hydrologic and operational conditions exist and there is a need to evacuate water from Millerton Lake in order to prevent or minimize spill or to meet flood control criteria (currently referred to as “uncontrolled season”), Friant contractors may schedule and take delivery of Class 2 supplies up to the contract maximum, consistent with contract terms and conditions.

Unreleased Restoration Flow supply related to the San Joaquin River Restoration Program of 358,730 acre-feet are being made available in a block that needs to be scheduled and delivered by June 15 to avert flood management concerns.

Eastside Water Service Contractors
Eastside water service contractors (Central San Joaquin Water Conservation District and Stockton East Water District) will receive 100 percent of their contract supply.

This initial allocation is based on a conservative estimate of the amount of water that will be available for delivery to these CVP water users and reflects current reservoir storages, precipitation, and snowpack in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada. “We will continue to carefully monitor hydrologic conditions and collaborate with our stakeholders and partners to manage our water resources as effectively as possible,” said Arroyave.

The CVP began the 2017 water year last October with 4.9 million acre-feet of carryover storage in six key CVP reservoirs — Shasta, Trinity, Folsom, Millerton, New Melones and the Federal share of San Luis Reservoir. This is 82 percent of the 15-year average annual carryover and 2 million acre-feet more than the amount with which the Mid-Pacific Region began WY 2016 on Oct. 1, 2015.

As the water year progresses, changes in hydrology and opportunities to deliver additional water will influence future allocations. Water supply updates will be made as appropriate and posted at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/cvp-water/index.html .
Federal officials notified Sacramento River settlement contractors this month that they, too, will be getting full allocations. This is the first time such widespread 100 percent allocations have been given since 2006, officials said.

I'll be getting reactions. Watch for my story at CapitalPress.com.

For Trump, address to Congress is like Opening Night

Erin Ryan, field representative for the north state's Rep. Doug LaMalfa, passed along these talking points from Paul Teller, a special assistant to the president for legislative affairs, in the lead-up to President Donald Trump's first address to a joint session of Congress tonight:
• One by one, President Trump has been checking off the promises he made to the American people. He’s doing what he said he was going to do.
• In Tuesday night’s speech, he will lay out an optimistic vision for the country that crosses the traditional lines of party, race and socioeconomic status. It will invite Americans of all backgrounds to come together in the service of a stronger, brighter future for our nation.
• All Americans share a desire for safe communities for themselves and their families. All Americans want their children to have access to good schools. And all Americans deserve good jobs that allow them to prosper and dream. For far too many people – “the forgotten men and women” – these fundamental desires have been out of reach for too long.
• The President will lay out the concrete steps he has already taken to make the American Dream possible for all of our people.
• He will talk about how he wants to work with Congress to pass a bold agenda. That will include:
o Tax and regulatory reform to get relief to hardworking Americans and American businesses.
o Making the workplace better for working parents.
o Saving American families from the disaster of Obamacare.
o Making sure every child in America has access to a good education.
o A great rebuilding of the American military.
o Fulfilling our commitments to our veterans and making sure they have access to the care they need.
• It will be a speech addressed to ALL Americans AS Americans—not to a coalition of special interests and minor issues.
• Americans can expect a speech that is grounded firmly in solving real problems for real people. How can we make sure that every American who needs a good job can get one? How can we get kids who are trapped in failing schools into a better school? How we can keep gangs and drugs and violent crime out of their neighborhoods?
• The President will reach out to Americans living in the poorest and most vulnerable communities, and let them know that help is on the way.
• He will also speak to the daily challenges of the Middle Class.
• He will look to the future and talk about what we can achieve if we come together.
• Finally, he will call on Congress to act. He is eager to partner with lawmakers to fix our problems and build on this renewed American spirit.
In my view, they should adorn the House chamber with the kind of red, white and blue bunting they use for big baseball games, because tonight is essentially Opening Night for his presidency. He will be judged on his legislative record, to the extent that he has one. To use a sports analogy, everything we've been seeing so far is akin to preseason.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Reclamation to announce initial CVP water allocation

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will announce its initial allocations of Central Valley Project water to the media at midday Tuesday.

This is normally the time of year we get the initial federal announcement, but last year they waited until April 1 so they could see how much rain we would get in March. This year, we already know it's a historically wet winter.

Check here and at CapitalPress.com for updates.

Shasta cattlewomen announce beef princess, ambassador

Via the East Valley Times:
The Shasta County CattleWomen held their 51st Annual Beef Princess / 25th Annual Beef Ambassador competition and dinner on February 25, 2017. Gus Urricelqui was crowned the 2017 Beef Princess; Adam Blalock will be the Senior Beef Ambassador.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Another take on Trump's 'enemy of the people' remark

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line poses the same question I did earlier this week about whether the news media is really the "enemy of the American people," as President Donald Trump labeled some outlets. He is right in saying Trump overstated his case, and he makes many of the same points I did, although much more concisely.

A sampling:
The best test of whether the new media fits Trump’s description occurs when an outlet has to decide whether to publish information the widespread knowledge of which threatens to harm members of the American public. Does it put the interest of public safety first? Or is its decision driven by other interests such as the desire for recognition or to harm an administration it doesn’t care for?

In my view, the New York Times behaved like an enemy of the American people when it published a story disclosing our government’s highly classified anti-terrorist-financing program. I agree with Scott [Johnson] that the story wantonly undermined an important national security program for no arguable public purpose. I agree with Tom Cotton that the Times endangered the lives of U.S. soldiers, again, for no arguable public purpose.

This isn’t the only instance in which the news media has put its interests ahead of the interest of Americans. However, I don’t know how widespread the practice is. When the media decides not to publish information because of its potential harm to America, we don’t know about it.

Thus, I think it would be unfair to conclude that the news media is an enemy of the American people based on a handful of instances in which it acts as such. As Tom Cotton once told the New York Times, we should not “paint with such a broad brush.”

It would, though, be fair to observe that many in the news media view a large portion of the American people contemptuously. My impression is that many look down on Trump supporters, and before that Tea Party sympathizers, viewing them as bitter, racist, and incapable of understanding that their interests are best served by left-liberalism (“what’s wrong with Kansas” and all that).

This doesn’t make media members enemies of the American people. However, it’s easy to understand why many Americans would have that sense.

How to spot left-wing Astroturf at town-hall meetings

When the tea party movement began in 2009, Democratic politicians and their news-media allies famously referred to it as right-wing "Astroturfing," or a fake grass-roots movement funded by big donors. My own interaction with north state tea party members and seeing how vibrant and active they were -- and still are -- quickly convinced me that the Astroturf label was a slander. But now that Republicans are in charge, it's their turn to accuse the other side of "Astroturfing" town-hall meetings, and they're offering some proof.

As CNS News reports, Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., told a radio program that "protesters attending his raucous town hall 'self-identified' as being from a group called Indivisible, which offers a 'practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda.'"

From the news service:
The detailed guide was written by "former congressional staffers" who "reveal best practices for making Congress listen."

And what's happening at so many congressional town halls is clearly laid out in Chapter 4, which advises Trump opponents to:

-- Get there early: "Meet outside or in the parking lot for a quick huddle before the event. Distribute the handout of questions, and encourage members to ask the questions on the sheet or something similar."

-- Get seated and spread out: "Head into the venue a bit early to grab seats at the front half of the room, but do not all sit together. Sit by yourself or in groups of two, and spread out throughout the room. This will help reinforce the impression of broad consensus."

-- Demand real answers: Lawmakers are "very good at deflecting or dodging questions," the guide says. "If they aren't giving you real answers, then call them out for it. Other group members around the room should amplify by either booing the MoC (Member of Congress) or applauding you."

-- Don’t give up the mic until you’re satisfied with the answer.

-- Keep the pressure on. "After one member of the group finishes, everyone should raise their hands again. The next member of the group to be called on should move down the list of questions and ask the next one."

-- Support the group and reinforce the message. "After one member of your group asks a question, everyone should applaud to show that the feeling is shared throughout the audience."

-- Record everything! "Assign someone in the group to use their smart phone or video camera to record other advocates asking questions and the MoC’s response. While written transcripts are nice, unfavorable exchanges caught on video can be devastating for MoCs. These clips can be shared through social media and picked up by local and national media."

-- Reach out to media, during and after the town hall. "If there’s media at the town hall, the people who asked questions should approach them afterward and offer to speak about their concerns. When the event is over, you should engage local reporters on Twitter or by email and offer to provide an in-person account of what happened, as well as the video footage you collected."

-- "Ensure that the members of your group who are directly affected by specific threats are the ones whose voices are elevated when you reach out to media."
Erin Ryan, a field representative for Rep. Doug LaMalfa and a former Redding Tea Party leader, says she's encountered these activists in the north state. She distributed the guide to people on her email list and urged supporters not to get complacent. She wrote:
For those who have been working with the tea parties over the past 8 years it’s interesting to hear the left say that we were small self-funding and very effective groups when all we heard for years was that we were front groups for the Koch brothers. Be aware of what these guys plan to do because now is the time to defend our towns and cities from their anarchy. It’s also time to defend your elected officials from them.

Our offices have been bombarded with calls and walk-ins “demanding”, yes DEMANDING, that Doug hold a town hall so they can reenact a Jerry Springer episode for the cameras. They don’t want to discuss issues. They want to scream and yell and name call and DEMAND that he vote their way. They use that word a lot. Almost as though it has some secret meaning. Hmmm, in reading their Indivisible Guide I see they encourage them to go to the office or call us and DEMAND a town hall or an in-person meeting. Who does this besides 5 year-olds? It’s bizarre and exhausting.
One thing to keep in mind is that the media are a BIG part of this group's plan. You might have 50 people at a town-hall meeting and if two or three of them start yelling and cause a scene, that's what you'll see reported. In some cases, news outlets will find out ahead of time that these activists are going and cover a meeting they'd otherwise skip thinking it was routine. And in many cases, the outlets will be all too happy to champion these activists' cause.

Whatever your point of view is, perhaps it's best to attend these meetings yourself to give your valid feedback, listen to everything that's said and maybe report on social media what you saw and heard. If you can't attend, you could try to find a video stream of the entire event if one is available; hopefully these leaders will offer more of these raw streams considering how popular they've become on a national level. And barring all of that, try to read as many perspectives on the meetings as you can, including news reports as well as blog and social media posts from people who attended. Remember, you're in charge of your own information-gathering.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

NWS: Next round of storms to be colder, weaker

From the National Weather Service:
An upper level disturbance will rotate through northern California through Friday. Scattered rain and snow showers Today and Friday, mainly for the Foothills and Sierra.

Two cold, but weaker systems compared to earlier in the week, will move over the region late Saturday into Monday. These systems may cause just enough snow for mountain travel delays. Rainfall amounts will generally be light. The forecast trend with these storms has been for lighter precipitation.

Longer travel times and possible chain controls over mountains
Flooded roadways and low lying areas will continue
Levees issues will continue, especially for the delta

Forecast Confidence
Medium for a weekend storm
Low for timing details, precipitation amounts

Timing and Strength

Scattered rain and snow chances, mainly for foothill and mountains
Patchy frost possible Friday morning for the Valley
Cold storm system anticipated to arrive Saturday night
Snow levels between 2500 and 3500 feet
Generally light snow amounts through Monday
Light rainfall accumulations expected for the Valley and Foothill locations

Weekend storms flood farm fields, displace animals

From the California Farm Bureau Federation:
Strong storms during the Presidents’ Day holiday weekend flooded farm fields, caused several dairy farms to relocate their animals and brought other impacts on California farms and ranches. The storms also added more water to an already overtaxed system, and led to renewed calls to modernize the system.

“In the long term, the surge of storms should bring an improved water outlook,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger said, “but it has definitely brought worries to farmers and ranchers whose land is inundated or whose crops may be at risk. We remain hopeful that weather in coming days will minimize any problems.”

Wenger noted that many reservoirs have filled and have had to release water, which underlines the need to enhance California’s water storage capacity.

“Believe it or not, there are people who think we don't need more water storage, and that we should even tear down many of the facilities we now have,” he said. “These activists don't care how many people suffer from devastating floods in winters like this. They don't care how many people suffer from water shortages during droughts.”

Wenger said California must move as quickly as possible to allocate money from the 2014 water bond, Proposition 1, to create more storage both aboveground and underground.

“Environmentalists say we can solve water problems by conserving more water and storing more underground. But we’re not able to conserve most of the water flowing through the system now—we have had to let it go. And moving water into the ground takes time. You can’t replenish groundwater if you don’t have aboveground reservoirs and canals to hold and move water to where it can effectively filter underground,” Wenger said.

Farm Bureau said farmers of a number of crops and commodities will be assessing the impact from the weekend storms, including:

• Almonds—The storms hit just as almond trees were blooming. Bees that pollinate almond blossoms don’t fly in the rain and prefer temperatures higher than 55 degrees. In addition, a number of almond trees were blown down by strong winds during the weekend. But farmers said the tree losses weren’t as bad as feared, and expressed hope pollination would still be successful.

• Berries—The rains delayed strawberry harvest along the Central and Southern California coast. Production may be temporarily reduced as farmers wait for waterlogged fields to dry and discard rain-damaged berries.

• Dairy farms—Several dairy farms located near the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers needed to move their animals to higher ground as river levels rose. Other farmers are watching river levels carefully and preparing to move their animals if needed.

• Field crops—Fall-planted grain crops that have germinated could take on too much water, which could ultimately reduce yields. Hay fields have also flooded. Soggy or flooded fields will delay planting for a number of crops.

• Grapes—Vineyards in various grape-growing regions have been flooded. Farmers say that could leave vines vulnerable to root-rot damage if they remain flooded for too long.

• Vegetables—Rains and muddy fields slowed vegetable harvest in Southern California and delayed planting in the Salinas Valley. Rain generally benefited vegetable crops in the Imperial Valley.

• Walnuts—Flooded orchards that remain waterlogged for too long could be vulnerable to root diseases that can kill trees.

• Miscellaneous—Heavy rains in foothill regions have washed out privately maintained roads, making it hard for cattle ranchers to reach their animals, and muddy pastures limit ranchers’ ability to reach herds on horseback. Pear orchards in Lake County have been flooded. Citrus fruit harvest was temporarily delayed. The storms brought large amounts of rain to Santa Barbara County farmers who have remained in severe drought. One farmer there reported losing about half an acre of avocado trees to a mudslide.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 48,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.
On Tuesday I toured flooded and muddy farm fields in the Salinas Valley, where an artichoke field was among farmland that was inundated with water. The storms followed last week's crisis in the Oroville Dam area, where a swollen Feather River flooded farm fields amid a three-county evacuation.

I'll be checking with others to see the extent of damage. Watch for our coverage at CapitalPress.com.

DWR to hold next manual snow survey Wednesday

From a news release:
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) will host the news media on March 1 for this winter’s third manual snow survey at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada. Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, will begin the survey at 11 a.m. just off Highway 50 near Sierra-at-Tahoe Road, about 90 miles east of Sacramento. The survey will determine the water content of the snow at Phillips.

Water Year 2017, which runs from October 1 to September 30, is on track to be the wettest in DWR’s records. The statewide snowpack’s water content in data collected electronically currently is 188 percent of normal for today’s date. All three regions DWR monitors continuously for rainfall have had more than twice their average rainfall this year.

The Phillips snow course has been measured each winter since 1941 and is one of hundreds that will be traversed during a 10-day period around March 1 to determine the water content of the snowpack, which normally contributes about 30 percent of California’s water. Manual readings supplement DWR’s electronic data.
Our coverage of the season's first two surveys is here and here. For details on Wednesday's survey, check here and at CapitalPress.com.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Touring the Salinas Valley's flooded fields, farm facilities

Today I'm heading home after working Tuesday in the Salinas Valley, where I looked at impacts from the recent torrential storms, visited a leafy greens processing facility and talked with produce industry insiders.

In the photos, from the top: An artichoke field near Castroville is flooded; Joe Pezzini, president of Castroville-based Ocean Mist Farms, stands near a field that's been prepared for planting spinach; workers in Ocean Mist's processing facility box and wash spinach that's been shipped in from the operation's fields in Southern California; and Jim Bogart, president and general counsel of the Grower-Shipper Association, stands outside the organization's headquarters in Salinas.

The main project I'm working on involves the 10-year anniversary of the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, which was hastily formed by industry folks after the 2006 E. coli outbreak essentially shut down spinach sales in the U.S. The LGMA's voluntary yet nearly universally followed food safety guidelines are now a model as the federal government implements the Food Safety Modernization Act's Produce Safety Rule.

I'll also be doing a shorter, more immediate story on results of a grower survey the GSA published this week and checking for any agricultural damage from the past week's storms. In the Salinas Valley, the fields that weren't under water as a result of the storms were a muddy mess; you couldn't really get into the cauliflower and artichoke fields to pick them.

"We'll have to throw away all these artichokes, sure," Pezzini said of the flooded field shown in the first photo.

"We really need a few days to dry out," he said.

For these stories, check CapitalPress.com soon, and look for my LGMA centerpiece story in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

NBC News bummed Trump still president after 32 days

From the Daily Wire:
In what has to rank as the dumbest headline of this year, NBC Politics ran with this shockingly bold story:

President Trump reaches 32 days, won't be shortest U.S. president

When President Trump says that the media are corrupt and vicious, that their tone is inexcusably detrimental to the nation, he’s thinking of headlines like this one. The tenor of lovelorn hope – well, he didn’t go in the first 30 days, but we can pray on it – is palpable. Did NBC run anything remotely resembling such a piece of news about Barack Obama? Or was it just a series of paeans to his genius?
They were sincerely hoping that something -- or someone -- would take him out, regardless of the national crisis that would create. And these are the people who have been given the privilege of beaming their signal into every home in America -- including your child's bedroom.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Is the media really 'the enemy of the American people'?

President Donald Trump is nothing if not the king of absolutely over-the-top hyperbolic rhetoric, so it's easy to put his "enemy of the American people" remarks about certain media outlets in that category. Journalists I know have taken to social media to post the American Founders' quotes about the importance of a free press, and they've developed the hashtag #notyourenemy. But the question you have to ask yourself as a consumer is, if you're an average working American trying to raise children with a modicum of values and respect for others, and especially if you don't toe the Leftist line politically, have the media acted as your friends?

Let's first take a close look at what Trump said. In a tweet, he said, "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" Notice that Trump didn't single out the conscientious individual reporter working for his or her hometown newspaper. he singled out five specific media corporations, including the three major networks. So let's take a look at them.

NBC, ABC and CBS have the privilege of being beamed over the air to every home in America, including your child's bedroom. They use that privilege by giving us shows like "Saturday Night Live," which attacks former Trump campaign chief and current adviser Kellyanne Conway -- a private citizen who was virtually unknown before the campaign -- in vicious, personal terms, and "The View," which regularly mocks and belittles Christians and compares their views to those of the Taliban. ABC and CBS accuse average folks who supported Trump of wanting to "bring dictatorship to the country." These networks are constantly working to fan the flames of racial hatred and mistrust, which negatively impacts every community.

The New York Times? Aside from their acting as a campaign arm of the Democratic Party, they are publicly advocating efforts to "destroy the business model" of New Media outlets, thereby providing average folks with fewer choices for news. This desire is not limited to the New York Times; David Brody of CBN tells of getting "death stares" from major corporate reporters at White House press conferences. And CNN? Their reputation is in such a shambles that even their own guests are calling them "fake news."

And it's not just the Manhattan-Beltway media that have this false sense of superiority. In the newsrooms of major corporate-owned newspapers across the country, journalists wear their self-described distinction of being "not of this community" with a badge of honor. Here are just two of what I guarantee are many examples I've witnessed. An editor once told me that Christians are bigots by definition because they opposed gay marriage. Another editor, when discussing a local Memorial Day observation's use of the phrase "fallen heroes," said you're not a hero just because you went overseas, shot up a village and got yourself killed. Again, these are two of many stories I could recite, including the making up of nasty nicknames for local dignitaries. Fortunately none of these examples were with my present employer.

Journalist and author Jeffrey Lord writes in a column titled "The Media Versus America":
The media is out of touch. It isn’t just that it’s Left — which it is — but it has also long since ceased having honest and open conversations with the millions of Americans who have come over the decades to view the talking heads as a bunch of overprivileged arrogant and self-centered jerks who look down on the very people who get up everyday and make this country work. [...]

How should the media react to this? A suggestion here. No one is threatening the First Amendment. Hysteria about that does not help the situation. But it certainly seems that journalists across the media would do well to do some soul searching in their own individual Bat Caves. If they want to be liberals or conservatives or Trump supporters or Never Trumpers or whatever — well then have at it. But for those who construct the daily ebb and flow of individual stories that have come to be dubbed “narratives?”

Wouldn’t it be better — more productive and more credible — to stop reflexively looking across the country and filling airwaves and print space with stories that are always trying to portray, say, Trump supporters/conservatives/Republicans as a bunch of racist-sexist-homophobic-Islamaphobic-xenophobic frothing immigrant haters?

Aside from the fact that this is, in reality, preposterously untrue, it doesn’t help the journalists to do their jobs well — not to mention that it eats away at their credibility. As a result, a significant portion of the country has arrived at the conclusion to not believe a single thing they say.
Unfortunately, I have seen nothing in my nearly 30-year career that gives me confidence that corporate media types are capable of the kind of mass introsspection that Lord is hoping for. I think the best thing consumers can hope for is that some of these media companies go out of business, and that the networks get out of the news business, and be replaced by New Media and niche-media outlets that better serve and respect their audiences.

As for Trump, I think the use of the word "enemy" by the president of the United States should be reserved for very few individuals and countries. For the president to call businesses "the enemy of the American people" is akin for many people to calling them an enemy of the state. Hopefully his advisers, and perhaps the push-back he's receiving from members of Congress, will encourage Trump to tone down the rhetoric a bit.

But what bent-out-of-shape journalists need to remember is that they only have their own industry's loss of credibility to blame for the fact that somebody like Trump 1) got elected despite their efforts to oppose him and 2) can now get away with calling them out in stark terms without facing a backlash from the American people. It's never a very healthy situation when a national leader is more trusted than the people that are supposed to be watching him, but that's what we have now. That won't change until we develop a dominant media that respects the readers and viewers they're supposed to be serving.

Senator questions DHS' seizure of phone records

From a news release:
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today asked the Department of Homeland Security to explain reports of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agents demanding access to Americans’ locked phones and other digital devices when crossing the U.S. border. Wyden also asked about the department’s plans to require visitors to the United States to turn over their private social medial passwords as a condition of entry.

“These digital dragnet border search practices weaken our national and economic security. Indiscriminate digital searches distract CBP from its core mission and needlessly divert agency resources away from those who truly threaten our nation,” Wyden wrote to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

Read the full letter here.

Specifically, Wyden asked:

--What legal authority permits CBP to ask for or demand, as a condition of entry, that a U.S. person disclose their social media or email account password?
--How is CBP use of a traveler’s password to gain access to data stored in the cloud consistent with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?
--What legal authority permits CBP to ask for or demand, as a condition of entry, that a U.S. person turn over their device PIN or password to gain access to encrypted data? How are such demands consistent with the Fifth Amendment?
--How many times in each calendar year 2012-2016 did CBP personnel ask for or demand, as a condition of entry, that a U.S. person disclose a smartphone or computer password, or otherwise provide access to a locked smartphone or computer? How many times has this occurred since January 20, 2017?
--How many times in each calendar year 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 did CBP personnel ask for or demand, as a condition of entry, that a U.S. person disclose a social media or email account password, or otherwise provide CBP personnel access to data stored in an online account? How many times has this occurred since January 20, 2017?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Next big round of storms to bring more flooding to NorCal

In the photos, which I took yesterday, flood waters inundate Maxwell and rice ground near Williams. More flooding could come with the storm that's arriving this evening.

From the National Weather Service:
Main message for interior NorCal is that residents should be prepared for flooding, heavy snow, and wind damage. Wet pattern continues across the region through Wednesday, with the wettest storm expected Monday and Tuesday. Recent storms have left the region highly vulnerable, so significant impacts will be possible with additional rainfall. Strong, damaging winds expected Monday in the Valley and along the Sierra crest which will heighten storm impacts. Snow levels around 5500 feet today and expected to rise Monday to near pass levels (6000-7000 feet). On Tuesday, snow levels lower below pass levels again. Motorists should check CalTrans and be cautious of hazardous mountain travel.

We could see flooding in areas that haven't flooded in a long time with additional stress on levees, rivers, creeks & streams
Mudslides & rockslides could cause mountain roads to be impassable for days
Numerous downed trees & long-lasting power outages, especially Monday
Hazardous mountain travel with chain controls, delays, road closures

Forecast Confidence
High through Tuesday
Medium Tuesday PM - Wednesday

Timing and Strength

Lighter showers, mainly across the mountains and north of I-80
Snow levels around 5500 feet with light additional accumulations
Continued river rises and localized flooding
Tonight - Tuesday
Heavy rain & snow, wettest storm of the series with greatest impacts
Strong, damaging winds with gusts of 45-55mph in the Valley, 55+ along Sierra crest
Snow levels rise above pass levels Monday, lowering again Tuesday to between 4000 and 5000 feet
Additional river rises and area-wide flooding
Late Tuesday - Wednesday
Secondary surge of moisture though not as wet as Monday-Tuesday
Snow levels lower to around 4000 feet
Continued river rises and flooding
A word about checking Caltrans' road reports: After you do that, maybe check social media and other media reports, too. Traffic was backed up for 4 hours in each direction yesterday on Interstate 5 by flooding in the roadway, through which police had to escort two and three cars at a time, and not one word of this was mentioned on Caltrans' website. The only report from I-5 in Northern California was some one-lane traffic near Willows, which we got through without a problem.

Much of the flooded ground in the Williams-Maxwell area is rice ground, which hasn't been planted this early in the year. In fact, many growers put water on their fields in the winter for the soil, although not this much water. Nonetheless, heavy winds in the next few days could cause havoc in orchards where the ground is already saturated, and this weather can't be good for bee activity during the almond bloom. Keep watch here and at CapitalPress.com.

I'm also working on a major project relating to the 10-year anniversary of the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. Much more on that in the coming days.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Cattlemen; Pruitt will restore 'common sense' to EPA

From a news release:
Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today released the following statement in response to the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Scott Pruitt to be the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

“For far too long, the EPA has been a runaway bureaucracy largely out of touch with how its policies directly affect folks like cattle ranchers, who use – and responsibly care for – the environment while providing the safest and most abundant food supply in the world. Scott Pruitt will restore some common sense to environmental policy and we look forward to working with him on restoring regulatory sanity to Washington, such as by killing the onerous ‘waters of the United States’ rule.”

Calif. Medicaid, CHIP enrollees exceed state populations

From CNS News:
The number of people enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in California alone exceeds the total populations of 44 of the other states of the union, according to data published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Census Bureau.

As of Jan. 1, 2014, states joining Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion could enroll people in the federal-state program under new, relaxed eligibility requirements. California was one of those states.

In the fall of 2013, the Obamacare exchanges opened to enroll people in health insurance plans for 2014.

The average number of Medicaid/CHIP enrollees in California in July-September 2013—the last quarter before the Obamacare exchanges opened--was 7,755,381, according to CMS.
The definition of a welfare state.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Adult, no-yelling news outlets that actually report news

As we try to endure one of the greatest existential crises in our nation's history, it's imperative that each of us as Americans and consumers be well informed. In the last few months, I have been searching for and sampling level-headed news and opinion sites that calmly report or comment on what's going on without a lot of shouting or breathless hyperbole, whether it be from CNN or the New York Times on the left or Breitbart or Rush Limbaugh on the right. Here are the media outlets I've gravitated to:

The Capital Press. It's not just because I work for them that I think they have been the best, most even-handed outlet for political coverage anywhere since the Trump phenomenon began. Our niche is agriculture, and it's no secret that there are mixed feelings among growers and farm groups when it comes to Trump's agenda. I just got off the phone with a wine industry representative who's with 40 vintners from California on a trade mision to Mexico this week to smooth things over amid all the talk of renegotiating NAFTA. On the other hand, I just covered a timber conference where most people were excited about the new administration. This dichotomy motivates us all the more to consider and cover all sides of issues, which is what we try to do anyway.

One America News Network. They're a 24-hour news network that's available online, and they follow mostly a headline news format. They cover all the activities of the Trump administration and Congress instead of just talking for hours about the latest controversy. They cover the controversy, but they report on other stuff, too.

CBN News. This Christian-based network has been reporting news on its flagship "The 700 Club" for decades. But about 15 years ago, in the beginning months of the War on Terror, they introduced a 30-minute nightly newscast to provide an alternative to the networks. Now they have a wide array of shows dealing with politics, national security, Israel, Christian ministry and persecution and other topics. Their website and app includes several 24-hour streaming networks.

Fox News website. They report what's going on without a lot of screaming headlines, and offer well-informed opinion pieces.

Fox News' Tucker Carlson. He's the best interviewer on television today, posing the smartest and toughest of questions while still maintaining a level of respect for his guest. His show is probably the most informative on cable news. If you're like me and don't have cable, Fox News is generous with its segment feeds on YouTube. You can essentially see the show within an hour after it's over.

CNS News. I got discouraged with them for a while because they had an awful lot of AP stories, which offer a highly distorted viewpoint to say the least. But lately their main page consists of mostly their own staff-written stories and columns, and they often report on things that other outlets miss.

Breitbart News Daily. This airs in the morning on SiriusXM radio. It's a three-hour show that often has interesting "newsmaker"-type guests as well as focusing on callers. While Breitbart's website is often dominated by screaming headlines, this show is usually pretty measured.

Daily Caller. Now we're getting into the more opinion-based sites, but they do break news on that site and often offer perspectives that no one else has considered. They staff presidential news conferences and actually ask questions, much to the disgust of temper tantrum-throwing left-wing activists posing as journalists.

LifeZette. This is Laura Ingraham's site, which focuses on news analysis (and also asks questions at news conferences).

PowerLine. This is a blog that became somewhat famous as the one that outed Dan Rather's falsified report on President Bush in 2004. It's staffed by several attorneys, none of whom were or are big fans of Trump. But that's all the more reason they can be counted on for some pretty fair analysis of events. They've also done some pretty groundbreaking work in exposing the holes in purported climate science.

This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list. Occasionally I'll read the Washington Examiner, the Washington Times, the New York Post and news aggregator sites that use a whole bunch of sources. But the idea is to seek out news sites that share core American values and provide intelligent, reasoned coverage and analysis of current events and issues. At a time when a very large segment of what we used to understand as the news media has been populated by activists and participants in the story, it's crucial for the health of our nation that people find and rely on these more reasoned voices.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

CFBF: Farmers welcome lifting of evacuation order

The California Farm Bureau Federation has talked to some of its members in the potential flood zone downstream from the Oroville Dam. From the organization's Food and Farm News:
The Oroville Dam evacuation order brought logistical headaches to farmers and ranchers within the affected area—but little damage was reported. The evacuation order, which was lifted Tuesday, also disrupted operations at food-processing plants. Crops grown in the area include peaches, prunes, walnuts, almonds, olives, kiwifruit and rice. Cattle ranchers say their animals have been safe on high ground.
Here is my story from earlier this week on the Oroville Dam situation's potential impacts on ag. We will keep you posted on new developments.

LaMalfa thanks the president for disaster relief funding

Via the East Valley Times:
Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after President Trump declared a federal emergency for the Oroville Dam spillway event as well as the flooding in the state caused by storms in January and February. Yesterday, Congressman LaMalfa and members of the California Delegation sent a letter to the President urging that he declare a Presidential Disaster Declaration of a Major Emergency for the Oroville Dam spillway incident that forced nearly 200,000 residents to evacuate from their homes. The federal disaster declaration directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide disaster relief efforts with 75% of the cost being funded by the federal government.

LaMalfa said: “I applaud the President’s swift action in making this emergency declaration for the people of Northern California. This decision is critical for the safety and wellbeing of the thousands of people who were forced to evacuate their homes at a moment’s notice. This funding will allow us to appropriately allocate the necessary personnel and equipment to provide relief and ensure safety. President Trump has shown that he understood the timely nature of this situation and was listening to those of us in the California delegation who requested this aid and for that, I thank him.”
The article also includes the text of President Donald Trump's disaster declaration letter.

Wet, windy weather to return tonight, stay until next week

From the National Weather Service:
Dry weather continues across Northern California through this afternoon. River and stream levels are still elevated and will be slow to recede. The next weather system is set to arrive late tonight into Thursday, with lighter showers Friday through the weekend. The precipitation forecast for these storms do not appear to be as high as last week's storms. Those storms last week have left the region highly vulnerable, so amplified impacts will be possible with additional rainfall. Potential is increasing for a stronger, wetter storm with stronger winds early next week. A continued wet pattern is expected through next week.

Flooding issues linger, water levels will be slow to recede
Renewed flooding concerns by late this week
Hazardous mountain travel this weekend
Gusty winds may bring downed trees and cause power outages

Forecast Confidence
High through the weekend
Medium for stronger, wetter storm Monday-Tuesday

Timing and Strength
Dry weather today through this afternoon
Most rivers have crested at this time, but flood waters will be slow to recede
Use this period to assess damages, clean-up ahead of next storms

Late Wednesday Night into Thursday
Rain: 0.50 to 2.00 inches across the Valley, 1.50 to 3.50 inches over the mountains
Snow levels 5000-6000 feet
Renewed flooding concerns
Gusty winds, mainly for northern Sacramento Valley and higher elevations

Friday: Lighter precipitation. Main storm system heads to Southern California

Weekend: Scattered light showers

Early Next Week: Potential for a stronger storm system, increasing confidence

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Butte sheriff says evacuated residents can return home

From a news release passed along by Erin Ryan, field representative for Rep. Doug LaMalfa:
Due to lower lake levels, further inspections, ongoing work to shore-up the Oroville Dam emergency spillway and updated weather forecasts, effective at 1:00 p.m. today, the Evacuation Order for the Oroville Dam Spillway Incident has been reduced to an Evacuation Warning. Any resident displaced by the evacuation may return home at 1:00 p.m.; however all residents are advised to remain vigilant and prepared as conditions can rapidly change. People who have special needs or require extended time to evacuate should consider remaining evacuated.

An Evacuation Warning means the immediate threat has ended but the potential for an emergency remains and therefore residents must remain prepared for the possibility of an Evacuation Order.

The decision to reduce the Immediate Evacuation Order to an Evacuation Warning is based on a number of factors, including:

· Lower lake levels: With the rate of release through the primary spillway remaining at 100,000 cfs, over the last two days the lake level has dropped 12 feet below the top of the auxiliary spillway and no longer has water flowing over the top. This mitigation work will reduce the risk of erosion should the emergency spillway have to be used again, although flow through the primary spillway will continue to attempt to lower the reservoir to 851 feet (approximately 50 feet below full).

· Further inspections: With the water level reduced, geologists and dam safety engineering specialists from the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers were able to inspect the damage. That inspection revealed that the integrity of the emergency spillway was not compromised by the erosion.

· Ongoing work to shore-up emergency spillway: To prevent further erosion the DWR is lining the front of the spillway with boulders and concrete. That work is expected to be completed tomorrow, ahead of the forecasted stormy weather.

· Updated weather forecasts: The decision has taken into account updated weather forecasts. The storm expected later this week is forecasted to be colder, with less rain and therefore a lower level of water flow into the reservoir than last week.

An evacuation center will remain open at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds. All other evacuation centers supported by Butte County will be closed. Residents from other centers who are still seeking shelter due to the Evacuation Warning can go to the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds.

Residents who evacuated animals to the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds should collect their animals as soon as possible if returning home. Large animals can remain at the evacuation center, but owners are advised to secure an alternative location for animals that is outside the area under the Evacuation Warning. Owners are required to find transportation to get animals home or to an alternate location. A strict animal release protocol will be adhered to at the Silver Dollar Fairground. Animal owners must have photo ID and pink copy of the animal intake form.

Disabled residents who need assistance with transportation home should call (530) 342-0221 for para-transport. Local agencies and medical facilities are determining when patients can be returned to evacuated hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.

Sheriff Kory Honea would like to thank those members of the community who were affected by this evacuation for their cooperation and patience. It was a difficult decision to order the immediate evacuation, but the need to act swiftly in the face of a potentially catastrophic incident was necessary in order to ensure public safety.

When you return home:
· Take all of your personal items and small animals with you when you leave an evacuation center.
· Drive carefully, thousands of Butte County residents evacuated and will be driving back to the Oroville, Gridley, and Biggs communities.

Residents should stay tuned to local information sources for any changes to the Evacuation Warning.
Living in California means being prepared.

Follow the Butte County Sheriff’s Office on Facebook and Twitter, sign up for emergency mass notifications at www.buttecounty.net/emergencymassnotification, and bookmark www.butteCounty.net.

The Spillway Incident Public Information Line is (530) 872-5951.

For a full list of state emergency and social media resources visit: http://www.oesnews.com/resources-for-oroville-dam-auxiliary-spillway-incident .

Oroville situation addressed in White House press briefing

White House press secretary Sean Spicer today said the administration is working with Rep. Doug LaMalfa on a response to the Oroville Dam crisis, which Spicer said is a "textbook example" of why Congress should pass a major infrastructure overhaul bill this year.

Here is a video of Spicer's remarks.

Nielsen praises north state residents for crisis response

Northern California's state Sen. Jim Nielsen has released this "open letter" to north state residents in the wake of the Oroville Dam crisis:
On Sunday, North State residents were alarmed by the alert from the Department of Water Resources about the potential failure of the auxiliary spillway at Lake Oroville.

Within hours, the great people of the North State, from Plumas Lake to Oroville, peacefully evacuated their homes due to the damaged spillways at Lake Oroville. Nearly 200,000 people loaded their most valuable possessions, pets and essential needs into vehicles and headed on to crammed highways.

In heavy traffic, North State residents – fearing the unknown and dealing with anxiety, no doubt – evacuated without incident.

Law enforcement officials and social workers helped steer citizens to where they needed to go. Hundreds of first responders assisted and transported those who were most vulnerable. Residents of neighboring regions opened their homes to strangers.

Construction crews filled bags of rocks overnight so helicopters could drop them into the spillway at first sunlight. Workers continue to watch water levels around the clock.

In this time of high stress and unease, the citizens of our region held their heads up high and behaved admirably.

These are amazing actions of kindness, cooperation and patience.

The world’s eyes are upon us. Thank you for showing the world how great Americans are.

Water nears apartments as flooding closes sheriff's office

So far, water has not encroached into the Park Marina Village apartment complex, which was partially evacuated yesterday. The water has come right up to the edge but not flooded the parking lot or units, at least yet. But offices up the street aren't as lucky.

From the Sheriff's Department via the East Valley Times:
The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Administration Building, located at 300 Park Marina Circle, will be closed to the public on Tuesday 2/14/2017 through Wednesday 2/15/2017 due to the flooding taking place on Park Marina Drive. The office will re-open as soon as possible.

If you have an emergency please contact SHASCOM at 530-245-6540 or 911.

Counties sue to block Siskiyou monument expansion

From a news release:
The Association of O&C Counties (AOCC) yesterday filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming the Obama Administration's inclusion of Oregon & California ("O&C") lands within the newly-expanded Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument violates the O&C Act, and exceeds the scope of presidential authority under the Antiquities Act.

The O&C Act requires land agencies to manage O&C lands for sustained yield timber production to generate revenue for host O&C Counties and to provide an economic base for local industries and communities. AOCC says more than 80 percent of the proposed expansion is O&C land, and because Congress set aside the lands for a specific purpose, the President did not have authority to place the timberland into the expanded monument for a different purpose.

"The expansion of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument will encompass 48,000 acres, almost all of which are O&C lands," said Douglas County Commissioner and AOCC President Tim Freeman. "The ink was hardly dry on the BLM's restrictive new resource management plan before the president expanded the monument from the small amount left for sustained yield management. The counties have no choice but to defend these lands for the purposes Congress intended them for. These lands provide critical revenue for vital county services and we must do everything possible to keep these lands productive."

AOCC says a past Department of the Interior solicitor determined the President lacks authority under the Antiquities Act to include O&C lands in a national monument. In Solicitors Opinion M. 30506, the Solicitor said the President could not include O&C lands in a National Monument if the lands were classified as timberlands under the O&C Act.

"The tens of thousands of acres of timberland added to the monument were designated by federal law to be managed for sustained yield timber harvest under the O&C Act of 1937 and they are directly threatened by the expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou Monument," said Polk County Commissioner Craig Polk. "President Obama's decision to flatly ignore a Solicitor General opinion gives us a strong case to challenge this expansion. I believe that all engaged O&C County leaders see this violation of the rule of law as an erosion of intended collaboration in protecting American treasures while simultaneously fulfilling economic vitality from public lands."

Counties depend on shared timber receipts from sustained yield timber production to pay for essential public services of all kinds, from public safety such as sheriff patrols and jails to public heath programs and libraries. When O&C lands are withdrawn from sustained yield management, there is a direct financial loss to county governments and a loss of services to local citizens. County commissioners say the loss of timber supply from the monument expansion would be a major blow to local economies for communities in Klamath and Jackson Counties, and perhaps as far away as Douglas County where there are sawmills within hauling distance of harvests that would take place on BLM lands in the Medford District and the Klamath Resource Area.

"I'm particularly concerned about the impact on the 40 + full-time staff at the Klamath Falls Resource Area offices of the BLM. Many of these members of our community are reportedly likely to lose their jobs because of this expansion," said Klamath County Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris.

County commissioners say the litigation against the federal government wouldn't have been necessary if the Obama Administration had adequately consulted the Counties and local communities before expanding the monument. In addition to AOCC's formal objection to the proposal, the monument expansion was opposed by Jackson, Klamath and Siskiyou (CA) Counties where the monument is located.

“It is very disappointing that Jackson County' input was not sought initially in the planning phases of the expansion," said Jackson County Commissioner Colleen Roberts. "To add to the disappointment, the county held a public hearing, took public comment, and compiled and submitted hundreds of pages of testimony against the expansion. Yet the expansion occurred anyway. It is a matter of county concern and the county was ignored.”

Oroville update: Crews worked through the night on dam

From a news release:
The Department of Water Resources continues to reinforce the emergency spillway. Crews worked through the night, adding rock and material to areas of erosion. These activities are being undertaken 24 hours a day and are supported by helicopters and heavy construction equipment. There is no water flowing over the emergency spillway.

DWR continues to regulate outflow in an effort to reduce water levels in the reservoir, support construction activities and protect the Hyatt Power Plant. The level of the reservoir continues to decrease and at current rates, is projected to possess the capacity to absorb anticipated inflows due to forecasted inclement weather.

A Temporary Flight Restriction has been enacted for the area of the Oroville Dam as crews conduct continual surveys. This restriction includes recreational drones.

For information on lake conditions; including lake levels, inflows, and outflows you can visit the following website. http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/resapp/resDetailOrig.action?resid=ORO

Monday, February 13, 2017

Oroville update: Crews rush to shore up eroding spillway

Just in this evening:
The Department of Water Resources advises that the primary spillway continues to flow at 100,000 cfs and lake levels have dropped to 894’ feet. After evaluating the erosion on the emergency spillway, a plan was put in place to prevent further erosion. Utilizing trucks and helicopters, crews moved large rocks and gravel to fill erosion on the emergency spillway. DWR staff continues to inspect and evaluate the emergency and primary spillways for further erosion.

Total discharges from the reservoir remain consistent with flood control releases at this time of year under these weather conditions. DWR does not expect the discharge from the reservoir to exceed the capacity of any channel downstream.

For information on lake conditions; including lake levels, inflows, and outflows you can visit the following website. http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/resapp/resDetailOrig.action?resid=ORO

LaMalfa asks for disaster assistance from Trump

From a news release:
Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after sending a letter to President Trump urging that he declare a Presidential Disaster Declaration of a Major Emergency after the Oroville Dam spillway suffered major damage, leading to an increased threat to public safety and causing widespread evacuations in the surrounding areas.

LaMalfa said: “The damage to the emergency spillway and main spillway to the Oroville Dam is a major safety concern for the surrounding communities and a crisis that will persist for the foreseeable future. Residents have been forced to leave their homes and seek shelter on higher ground as the risk for a major flood continues. The mandatory evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents is the very definition of a disaster and with more rain expected as early as Wednesday, it is critical that we act swiftly to ensure federal aid is available to support and shelter evacuees as this crisis continues to develop. The wellbeing of our residents is the number one priority and we must do everything within our power to ensure their safety. I urge the President and the Governor to take this action as rapidly as possible.”

The text for the letter is as follows:
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

President Trump,

We are writing to urge that you act rapidly to declare a Presidential Disaster Declaration of a Major Emergency to address the threat to public safety resulting from crippling damage to Oroville Dam, located in Butte County, California. Under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, a declaration would immediately direct federal resources to the area to help address a crisis of growing proportions and assist residents of three counties currently under mandatory evacuation orders.

Oroville Dam, the tallest dam in the United States and the primary component of the State Water Project, experienced significant damage to its primary spillway late last week and operation of the spillway was rapidly curtailed. As a result of decreased releases from the primary spillway, a rapid, storm-caused increase in water levels triggered the first-ever use of an adjacent emergency spillway. During operation of the emergency spillway, it also experienced erosion-related damage to a degree which could result in failure and potentially catastrophic flooding if operations were continued. State and local officials determined that failure of the emergency spillway was so imminent that they triggered a mandatory evacuation of nearly 200,000 downstream residents late last night.

While the emergency spillway did not fail last evening, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), additional storms will reach Northern California as early as Wednesday and contribute significant precipitation over the following several days. The danger of failure is likely to persist for months as California’s winter and spring runoff seasons progress, and it is extremely unclear when state agencies will be able to mitigate the danger to a degree that would allow residents to return to their homes.

A Presidential Disaster Declaration would immediately make federal aid available to support evacuation and shelter of the residents of Butte, Sutter, and Yuba Counties, as well as increase the capacity of federal, state, and local agencies to address the crisis as it develops.

We ask that you act rapidly in order to ensure that appropriate federal agencies are able to rapidly provide assistance during this challenging situation. Thank you for your timely response to this request.
LaMalfa said in a news conference today that he hadn't yet heard from Trump himself but he's been in contact with White House staff.

Redding evacuations begin as water keeps rising

With rain on the way, Redding's Fire Department is informing residents that water releases from Shasta Lake will increase by another 9,000 cfs this afternoon, to 79,000 cfs.

Residents of A-frames and houses that are part of the Park Marina Village apartments near downtown Redding have been asked by the city to evacuate. Other apartment residents have been advised to move their cars to higher ground immediately and keep an eye on the water levels, as the rising river and pond on the property may overflow the driveway.

Cox Real Estate, which manages the apartments for the McConnell Foundation, advises that the last time the water was this high in 1998, none of the apartments sustained water damage. But they don't know if water will enter the homes this time. Residents are urged to consider staying elsewhere.

Meanwhile, I'm working on a story on the ag impacts from Oroville. Check back here and at CapitalPress.com.

Agriculture in harm's way as Oroville Dam spillway holds

About one-third of Butte County's $773 million agriculture industry is directly in the path of potential flood waters from Lake Oroville if the dam or its spillway were to fail, county agricultural commissioner Louie Mendoza told me this morning.

As it is, an untold number of farms and their operators were included in the evacuation orders that were issued yesterday.

The Highway 99 corridor between Chico and Yuba City is dominated by rice and tree crops, including almonds, walnuts, peaches and prunes. Complicating matters is that almonds are beginning bloom, which means there are thousands of bee boxes out. Those are often placed on the ground, although Mendoza told me many beekeepers anticipating flooded fields will put them on a stand.

In addition to farms, there are several processing facilities in the area, which could also be affected.

I'm still checking around. Watch here and at CapitalPress.com for updates.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Oroville, Yuba City evacuate as spillway nears failure

The Sacramento River through Redding is the highest it's been in decades, covering parts of Park Marina Drive and encroaching on homes along the river. But we're not bearing anything close to the brunt of all the storms' aftermath.

Oroville and Yuba City are evacuating as the Oroville Dam's spillway may fail. From the state Department of Water Resources:
Based on information received from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the incident command team managing Lake Oroville, counties and cities near Lake Oroville and the surrounding area issued evacuation orders for residents. The concern is that erosion at the head of the auxiliary spillway threatens to undermine the concrete weir and allow large, uncontrolled releases of water from Lake Oroville. Those potential flows could exceed the capacity of downstream channels.

To avert more erosion at the top of the auxiliary spillway, DWR doubled the flow down its main spillway from 55,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 100,000 cfs. The next several hours will be crucial in determining whether the concrete structure at the head of the auxiliary spillway remains intact and prevents larger, uncontrolled flows.

Current flows are contained with downstream channels.

Flow over the auxiliary spillway weir began Saturday morning and has slowed considerably. DWR officials expect that flow to stop entirely soon, which will reduce the erosion on the downstream side of the structure.

Oroville Dam itself is sound and is a separate structure from the auxiliary spillway.
From the city of Yuba City:
City of Yuba City strongly recommends an evacuation of all residents immediately. Travel options are as follows: South on Highway 99, West on Highway 20, Highway 99 South to Highway 113, or South on George Washington to Highway 113.

Do not travel Eastbound on Highway 20 or Bridge Street as the bridges are closed. Do not travel North.
I will be checking on agricultural impacts. Check here and at CapitalPress.com for any updates.

NWS: Next round of rain, snow set to begin Wednesday

From the National Weather Service:
Dry weather returns to NorCal and will continue through Tuesday. Patchy fog possible in the overnight and early morning hours. Keep in mind that river and stream levels are still elevated, and that soils are still saturated which could cause additional downed trees or landslides. Use this period to assess damages, clean-up ahead of next storms. Confidence increasing that another atmospheric river will arrive on by Wednesday night-Thursday with precipitation continuing into next weekend. Snow levels expected to go below pass levels to impact mountain travel.

Water levels still rising on some mainstem rivers and local creeks
Flooding issues linger; additional landslides and downed trees possible
Renewed flooding concerns for mid-late next week

Forecast Confidence
High for dry pattern through Tuesday
High for return of wet pattern mid-late week, low for details

Timing and Strength
Dry weather through Tuesday
Rivers expected to crest within next few days but water levels will be slow to recede
Use this period to assess damages, clean-up ahead of next storms
Wet pattern returns Wednesday night - next weekend
Several wet storms look possible. Uncertainty in timing, strength, and precipitation amounts
Snow levels could be below passes, impacting mountain travel
Renewed flooding concerns

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Worship concert highlights largely unsung local talent

There's a tremendous amount of talent in this country among singers and musicians who aren't signed with a major corporate record company, and some of that talent is in the Redding area. For instance, did you know that Bethel Church has an internationally known worship team that has recorded nearly two dozen albums? You might not unless you go to Bethel, because you never hear much about Redding churches in our East Coast-owned corporate media unless they 1) get sued, 2) have a pastor or somebody get arrested, or 3) have business with the city or county. But the talent is definitely here.

A perfect example can be found in this news release from Simpson University:
Limited tickets are still available for a free community worship concert featuring Simpson University’s Music Department and Redding singer-songwriter Kristene DiMarco.

“It Is Well” will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 3, inside the James M. Grant Student Life Center at Simpson University, 2211 College View Drive. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for those with advance tickets, which can be reserved free online at simpsonu.edu/praise.

The concert is a special collaboration between Simpson University choirs and DiMarco, who will sing traditional hymns from her latest CD, “Mighty,” including her 2014 rendition of “It Is Well,” which was released to radio in 2015 and is played in churches around the world.

The first part of the evening will feature music by Simpson music students and faculty and the Women’s Choir. After intermission, the choirs will join DiMarco and her band for a collective worship experience.

DiMarco and her husband live in Redding with their two children. In addition to “Mighty,” she also has albums titled “Those Who Dream” and “Safe Place.” She’s working on a new album for release in the fall.

Simpson University’s Music Department offers bachelor’s degrees in composition, music education, performance, worship ministries, and music liberal arts. Award-winning faculty also direct vocal and instrumental ensembles, for students and members of the North State community. Learn more at simpsonu.edu/music.