Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Lobbying for water, wishing for wine

The chart shows the annual lobbying expenditures by Westlands Water District from 1998-2013. LInk:
The chart shows the annual lobbying expenditures by Westlands Water District from 1998-2013. LInk:

Chronicling the dastardly exploits of the fiendish parchnemesis, it's California Drought News!

In today's episode: politics, fish and fruit.


  • Our own Kitty Felde helped investigate lobbying efforts from our (and the country's) largest agricultural water district. How much did they spend, even as most other lobbying decreased? Spoiler alert: a lot. And it may be working for them.
The bill also extends for 40 years all existing federal water service contracts – including the one for Westlands. Lawrence says that takes away any flexibility to make water decisions for a generation. He notes that once you've delivered a "signed, sealed contract, let alone been directed to do it by the Congress," you've taken away any chance at reviewing how future water should be allocated. (SCPR)
  • Carolyn Lochhead reports that Sen. Dianne Feinstein appears to have switched over to be on the side of farmers instead of endangered fish when it comes to water allocations. (San Francisco Gate)
  • The Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released their "Drought Operation Plan" on Wednesday. There are critics, especially among environmental groups. (KPCCSacramento Bee)

Withering fruit

  • Remember the drought that dried up corn back in 2012? Turns out this one may drive food prices higher than that one did. (Bloomberg Business News)
  • Al Jazeera America takes a look how the state's vineyards are faring. It varies from region to region. My takeaway: We can drink our troubles away for another year, but come 2015, we'll all shed a tear. (Hey, that rhymed!)
Bottom line: Consumers will still be able to find their favorite wines for about the same prices — at least this year. “Vineyards can go through several years of drought,” Horiuchi said. “But usually the third and fourth year, yield will be the issue.” (Al Jazeera America)

Ok, "parchnemesis" has been canceled. Tune in next week to see what new drought synonym replaces it.

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