Americans think farmers should be first in line for water during drought

Water is not an endless resource, as our American neighbours are well aware. Let us not take our water for granted. We need to do our best to protect it so that we don't go down a similar road as our neighbours.

 

The drought has been acute in California, where rainfall has dipped to record lows, reservoirs are depleted and state regulators have ordered conservation from cities, businesses and agriculture. Some communities have been given nine months to cut their use by 36 percent compared to 2013 levels.

Nevada's Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the country, is hovering near its historic low water mark and residents in the Las Vegas area have limits on lawn watering.

"We need to take care of people first — and food," said William Clarke-Jessimy, 33, from Queens, New York, who thinks homes and agriculture should be favored for water rights.

He's watched prices spike for California fresh fruits and vegetables in his local markets, and he worries about friends and family in the San Francisco area who are living with the scarcity of water, with no relief in sight.

"It's really scary," he said. "They need to find ways to deal with the drought on a long-term basis. I don't think a lot of people realize how bad it really is."

Read full story from Los Angeles Daily News.

Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review - Update

Our comments regarding the Land Use Review have been submitted.

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What's next?

The comments and submissions received in the first phase of public consultation will help inform any proposed changes to the plans. Following the release of the proposed changes, a second phase of public consultation will be held to refine them further. This second phase of consultation is expected to begin in the winter of 2016.

Updates will be found at: http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page10882.aspx

 

 

 

California’s Drought Could Upend America’s Entire Food System

On April 1, California Governor Jerry Brown stood in a field in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, beige grass stretching out across an area that should have been covered with five feet of snow. The Sierra’s snowpack — the frozen well that feeds California’s reservoirs and supplies a third of its water — was just eight percent of its yearly average. That’s a historic low for a state that has become accustomed to breaking drought records.

In the middle of the snowless field, Brown took an unprecedented step, mandating that urban agencies curtail their water use by 25 percent, a move that would save some 500 billion gallons of water by February of 2016 — a seemingly huge amount, until you consider that California’s almond industry, for example, uses more than twice that much water annually. Yet Brown’s mandatory cuts did not touch the state’s agriculture industry.

Agriculture requires water, and large-scale agriculture, like that in California, requires large amounts of water. So when Governor Brown came under fire for exempting farmers from the mandatory cuts — farmers use 80 percent of the state’s available water — he was unmoved.

 “They’re not watering their lawn or taking long showers,” he told ABC’s “The Week” the Sunday after he announced the restrictions. “They’re providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America to a significant part of the world.”

Almonds get a lot of the attention when it comes to California’s agriculture and water, but the state is responsible for a dizzying diversity of produce. Eaten a salad recently? Odds are the lettuce, carrots, and celery came from California. Have a soft spot for stone fruit? California produces 84 percent of the country’s fresh peaches and 94 percent of the country’s fresh plums. It produces 99 percent of the artichokes grown in the United States, and 94 percent of the broccoli. As spring begins to creep in, almost half of asparagus will come from California.

Read more of Natasha Geiling's posting.

An Opportunity for Canadian Agriculture

The lack of water in California is forcing farmers to plough under orchards and stop planting on tens of thousands of acres.

Dr. Sylvain of the University of Guelph says Canada could benefit from California's troubles as he writes in An Opportunity for Canadian Agriculture.

Of course, we can only produce more food if we hve the land upon which to grow.

Read the full story.

Bobolinks and Meadowlarks in search of some breeding space

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Photo from In the Hills Magazine

Bobolinks are home to Melancthon Township, the land that was threatened by the Mega Quarry proposal.

 

Long a familiar sight in southern Ontario farm fields, these grassland birds are disappearing. So conservationists and others are joining forces to find practical ways 
to reverse the decline.

The voices of bobolinks and meadowlarks were once part of the soundscape of the tallgrass seas of mid-North America. Prairies were alive with the buzzing of rattlesnakes, the clucking of prairie chickens, the hoofbeats of antelope and the barking of prairie dogs. And of course, the thunder of millions of bison. The grasses of that soundscape, in full flourish, were tall enough to caress the withers of horses ridden by the Dakota, the Siksika and other Aboriginal peoples. Bobolinks and meadowlarks thrived among these grasses and undoubtedly found their way into First Nations’ lore, for these birds of song and colour are impossible to ignore.

Bobolinks and meadowlarks were probably also familiar to the Petun, Neutral and Wendat of Ontario. Though natural prairie in this province was scarce, these groups burned and cut woodland to create sunlit openings for farming and hunting, providing habitat not only for deer, but also for grassland birds.

Read full story by Don Scallen,  In the Hills Magazine, Volume 22, Number 1 2015