Denham to run again?
Former California Congressional District 10 Representative Jeff Denham is amassing a war chest and appears prepared to run again against incumbent and Turlock native Josh Harder. Republican Ted Howze, who was eliminated during the primary campaign in 2018, has already announced his candidacy. Both Denham and Howze promoted theories that the general election last November was tainted by illegal votes. Read More

Harder slams DeVos for hypocrisy
Newly elected Representative for California’s Congressional District 10 Josh Harder hasn’t wasted any time getting to work. He’s already made more high profile visits to his district than former rep Jeff Denham did over a year’s time, and Harder has also been promoting legislation that would help Valley citizens. Read More

Selling out to Westlands Water District
Donald Trump’s acting Secretary of the Interior is David Bernhardt, former lobbyist for Westlands Water District and dedicated foe of sustainable fishing and farming. The Trump administration’s plan for the San Joaquin Delta and San Joaquin Valley rivers is to ruin them so Westlands corporate farmers can continue growing nuts for export. Read More

Naramsen Goriel steps up to power
After many years of suppression and silence, the Valley’s young immigrants and minorities are speaking up. Naramsen Goriel’s recent comments in the Modesto Bee are the latest sign that a new generation of Valley citizens isn’t afraid to speak truth to power. Read More

Susan Eggman to run for senate
Susan Talamantes Eggman, current Assembly representative for California’s 13th District, has decided to run for State Senate after all. Only last year she announced she had decided not to run in part because of the poor health of her spouse, who had surgery for a spinal tumor. Read More

Harder hits the right note (again)
Most anyone who followed Josh Harder’s brilliant campaign last year knew he would apply tremendous energy and focus once in congress—he’s one of those people whose cruising speed is several levels above the recommended maximum. Read More

“The threat of climate change is both ominous and abstract”
Congressman Jerry McNerney in California’s 9th District is one of our most-informed leaders on energy and climate. An engineer and former consultant for traditional energy utilities as well as clean power sources, McNerney is well-versed in the science and economics of energy and climate change. Read More

Harder stands firm
Despite what many believe is a risky position, Josh Harder is standing tall on his campaign promise to support Medicare for All. So-called “Blue Dog” Democrats, including Fresno’s Jim Costa, are still claiming the costs outweigh the benefits. But if Josh Harder understands anything, he understands economics. Read More

Time to lose half a million acres of farmland?
While insiders have been saying for years that the realities of water supplies should dictate how much land we farm, public discussion rarely ensued. Now, realistic proposals for fallowing farmland are finally out in the open. Read More

Got smog?
Despite decades of talk and proposals to do something about it, air pollution is still a major threat to public health in the San Joaquin Valley, even in the northern portion, where Modesto and Merced routinely rank in the top ten cities in concentrations of particulate matter.  Read More

Newsom tosses tunnels
In a radical departure from the vision of Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom has rejected the California Water Fix and its plan for Twin Tunnels. Instead, Newsom favors one tunnel and a holistic approach to growing demands for water during a period of climate change and uncertain water supplies. Read More

Harder forwards bi-partisan bill for vets
Despite lip service to veterans, both political parties have failed to provide them adequate compensation for the harm many suffer in service to their country. Mental illness is especially rampant among vets, and too seldom acknowledged as a factor in divorce, bankruptcy and homelessness. Read More

Latino vote made a difference
Despite conspiracy theories from the likes of Ted Howze and Donald Trump, November’s surge of Democrat wins is easily explained by one word—turnout. And a key factor in turnout was the Latino vote. For years, and especially in the San Joaquin Valley, insiders have despaired at getting out the Latino vote. Read More

RIP Dr. Allen
Charles Van Dyn (CV) Allen was one of Modesto’s quietest but most influential movers and shakers for decades. He got less recognition than most because he was modest, operated in a field that for many years got little attention, and preferred moderate progress to radical bombast. Read More

Bee doubts Berryhill can serve
In a powerful editorial, the Modesto Bee suggests newly-elected Stanislaus County Supervisor Tom Berryhill should step down. Berryhill, who has been absent from public view for most of the last year, recently broke his hip and has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Read More

Brown rebukes sheriff’s attack on “sanctuary state”
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson has blamed the killing of Newman Police Officer Ronal Singh on a California law passed in 2017, but on January 6, Governor Jerry Brown offered a strong rebuttal to that theory. Brown said that the killer’s arrest dates preceded the passage of SB 54, the so-called “sanctuary” policy. Read More

Will OID double down on dumb?   
Just off a big loss to the Oakdale Groundwater Alliance (OGA) in Fresno’s Appellate Court, Oakdale Irrigation District’s (OID) Board of Directors are apparently eager for another hefty payout to water attorney Tim O’Laughlin, followed by an almost certain defeat. OID Directors are considering suing the state for thwarting OID’s practice of abandoning its water rights so it can sell water to buyers far south of the San Joaquin Delta. Read More

Stanislaus County employees to strike January 3
Citing understaffing and underfunding of critical services, as well as high turnover rates and a general breakdown in public service, members of Service Employees International Union 521 (SEIU) have announced they will go on strike January 3. The services involved include mental health, child care, aid for seniors and help for the unemployed.  Read More

Inside TJ’s big win
While Republicans from Paul Ryan on down to Jeff Denham and Ted Howze keep insisting there must have been dirty pool involved in the come-from-behind victories of Democrats like Josh Harder and TJ Cox, insiders knew all along that Harder and Cox applied relatively simple tactics to bring about their upset wins. First and foremost, both Harder and Cox were gluttons for work. Read More

Josh Harder close up
The Modesto Bee has two excellent reports on Josh Harder, the recently elected representative for California Congressional District 10. Harder surprised many local political insiders when he upset incumbent Jeff Denham, but in retrospect his combination of high intelligence, drive, and dedication to public service became more and more obvious the longer he campaigned. Read More

TJ takes the lead
Following a long-established pattern of Democratic Party votes coming in late, the count in California Congressional District 21 now favors challenger TJ Cox over three-term incumbent David Valadao. On election night, Cox was behind by over 4,000 votes. Soon afterwards, most news organizations and pollsters called the race for Valadao. But Cox has gained ground every ensuing update and now leads Valadao by just over 400 votes, with several thousand votes left to count. Read More

Cox trims Valadao’s lead to 447 votes
Though most everyone called the race in California Congressional District 21 well over a week ago, David Valadao’s seemingly insurmountable lead over TJ Cox has dwindled to 447 votes. Shortly after Election Day, Valadao led by almost 5,000 votes and was declared the winner. Every update since then has cut into his lead and the latest updates have cut it significantly. Read More

Modesto and Columbia Colleges to Strike
After being threatened with termination for exercising or planning to exercise their right to strike, the members of the Yosemite Faculty Association are planning a two-day strike in late November. The strike would include faculty members at Modesto Junior College and Columbia College. Read More

Another drought threatens Valley drinking water
During the drought years of 2012-2016, the state recorded over 2500 failed wells. There were probably more that weren’t reported.  A recent report shows that in the event of another drought—a near certainty—wells in the eastern San Joaquin Valley are among those most likely to fail.  Read More

Harder versus Denham up for grabs
Supporters of Jeff Denham erupted in cheers and demands for payoffs on election wagers when results were posted for Tuesday’s election. Unfortunately for backers of both Denham and his opponent Josh Harder, the early results represented less than half the vote total and showed Denham with a very narrow lead of 1287 votes. Read More

More Denham lies
Over the last couple of weeks, supporters of Jeff Denham have gotten ever more desperate. First, there was the appearance of a group of raucous “Proud Boys” at the Josh Harder Ag Roundtable in Hughson. These guys made the category “drunken lout” a step up. Read More

Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Endorses Harder
When she announced that the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare had officially endorsed Josh Harder, Catherine Dodd added that Harder had filled out a complicated questionnaire and received an A+. “Jeff Denham received an “F,” she said on October 24. Read More

Silver now showing Harder at 72.2% probability
Statistician extraordinaire Nate Silver will be the first to admit that polling isn’t always accurate. That’s one reason he adds what he calls “non-polling factors” into his mix of predictions and probabilities. Read More

Senior citizens favor Harder by large margin
One of the most reliable demographics to vote consistently, senior citizens are also among the most informed on current events and issues. And in California’s Congressional District 10, senior citizens favor Turlock native Josh Harder over Republican incumbent Jeff Denham by 17 points, according to a survey by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Read More

Josh Harder raising record dollars
Democratic candidates in general are raising record-breaking sums around the nation, but candidate for Congress in California’s Congressional District 10 Josh Harder has entered the stratosphere. Only Kentucky’s Amy McGrath has raised more than Harder. She’s at $3.65 million for last quarter. Harder was right behind her at $3.5 million. Read More

Jeff Denham largest beneficiary of money from indicted congressman
Even though Congressman Duncan Hunter has been indicted on corruption charges for using campaign money to pay personal expenses, Jeff Denham is still refusing to return the money Hunter donated to his campaign. Read More

Is Jeff Denham afraid of Josh Harder?
People who saw first-hand Jeff Denham’s bizarre outbursts of shouting, interruptions, and failures to address questions during the September 22 debate with Josh Harder are wondering whether the candidate from Turlock has Denham unnerved. How else to explain Jeff Denham’s bizarre behavior, which resembled a pre-teen trying to cover for stealing from his mother’s change purse after being caught red-handed? Read More

Fresno to build homeless shelter
Thursday, September 20, the Fresno City Council approved plans to build a 200 bed homeless shelter. The action came as a result of a court decision prohibiting punishment of people who sleep in public when they have nowhere else to go. Read More

Vindication for Kristi Ah You?
Modesto City Councilmember Kristi Ah You has said since she was elected in 2015 that the city should allow camping in Beard Brook Park, a location relatively distant from residential neighborhoods. In a sudden decision brought on by a recent ruling from the Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit, the City of Modesto seems to have a last agreed with Ah You. Read More

Berryhill owes voters an appearance
Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but on the same day Frank Damrell swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco to help raise $50,000 for hydrocephalus research, a Modesto Bee editorial noted that Tom Berryhill hasn’t been seen in public in weeks.
Read More

Wish there were more from OtPR
On the Public Record (OtPR) by magnitudes offers the most consistent insightful and sane commentary on Central Valley water issues. It’s a shame we don’t have more of it. Read More

Harder speaks truth on water
It didn’t take Josh Harder long to figure out Jeff Denham’s true loyalties on water. Congressman Denham has been working with his buddies David Valadao and Devin Nunes to send northern California water south for years.  Read More

Jobs recovery? Not really—
Wonder why economic recovery never seems to boost the San Joaquin Valley? It’s because we have too little job diversity and too many wage earners. Too many wage earners?  Why is that a problem? Read More

Denham votes “yea”
Jeff Denham is still telling people he’s against the Delta tunnels, but on July 19 he voted “yea” on H.R. 6147. That’s the bill with a rider that prevents lawsuits against the tunnels. Oh, and there’s another rider that prevents litigation against water projects in general. Read More

Denham gets called out
July 20, representatives from the Sierra Club, Friends of the River, Indian tribes and Restore the Delta held a press conference outside Jeff Denham’s Modesto office and criticized Denham for his implicit support of the Delta tunnels and attempts to eliminate due process for California water projects. Read More

Gofman and Wigler tour the Valley
Michael Gofman and Matthew Wigler passed through Modesto and California Congressional District 10 last week. Then they headed south on their tour of “purple” congressional districts—districts that voted for Hillary Clinton for president but also voted for a Republican for congress. Read More

Was Evin Yadegar shot while pulling away?
Steve Ringhoff studies some criminal cases closely and he’s been watching the case of Evin Yadegar’s death by shooting even more closely than most. Yadegar was shot by a Stanislaus County shefiff’s deputy in a Ripon neighborhood during a bipolar episode involving a slow speed chase. Read More

Harder tops new Red to Blue list
Just after his strong finish in one of California’s most crowded “jungle” primaries, Josh Harder has jumped to the top of the list of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program. Read More

OID: wheels of justice grind slow
It’s hard to keep up with all the violations, infractions, and environmental depredations at the Oakdale Irrigation District (OID), in part because the wheels of justice grind slowly. Way back in 2015, charges were brought against incumbent OID Board member Al Bairos for violating campaign funding regulations. Read More

Harder’s endorsements soar
Josh Harder’s campaign continues to garner coveted endorsements, with the latest coming from the Modesto Bee and Dr. CV Allen, one of Modesto’s most highly regarded citizens and an early force in the establishment of Modesto’s Memorial Hospital. Read More

Progressive water conference brainstorm coming
On the Public Record is hands down the finest source for informed and expert commentary on California water issues. Many of those informed water experts will be at the Progressive Water Conference in Fresno on May 19. Read More

Has DCCC soured on Michael Eggman?
According to almost all local political insiders, it was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) that brokered the deal that sent TJ Cox to campaign in California Congressional District 21 (CA-21) well after he had entered the race in Congressional District 10 (CA-10). Cox was sent off to CA-21 because the DCCC had brought in late entry Michael Eggman after a poll showed he was ahead of the crowded CA-21 field by a strong margin. Read More

Stanislaus and Merced Counties among most affected by tariffs
San Joaquin Valley farmers voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump and are now caught up in his wrath against the state of California. Read MoreHarder gains traction
Candidate for congress in California’s Congressional District 10, Josh Harder continued his fundraising success over the first quarter of 2018 by raising over $350,000 dollars. Harder has already amassed more money than Michael Eggman did during the entire two-year cycle of the previous off-year election in 2014; he’s raised over $1.3 million over the course of the campaign so far. Read MoreKeating jumps into supervisors’ race
Janice Keating, who narrowly lost to Dick Monteith in the race for Stanislaus County Supervisor in 2006, has entered this year’s contest for the District 4 seat. That’s three Trump Republicans running against Frank Damrell. Read MoreHelp for the mentally ill?
Some experts estimate the percentage of mentally ill homeless people at forty-percent. In addition to the mentally ill people on our streets, we have large numbers of mentally ill men and women in our jails and prisons. Read MoreIs Devin Nunes an amphibian?
Devin Nunes may not be an amphibian, but he’s for sure built a career as a toady. Realizing early on that he had a limited future as a person of virtue and achievement, he did what many do in his situation: He decided to suck up to money and power.  Read MoreCox endorsement from Pomboza killer McNerney?
You heard it here first: A very reliable source says Congressman Jerry McNerney will officially endorse TJ Cox for congress on Monday, January 22. The endorsement would provide yet another boost to Cox’s campaign, which has been energized by three debate wins in a row and endorsements from several popular activist groups in CA-10.  Read MoreTJ Cox campaign rolls on
TJ Cox has followed his post-debate poll win with an endorsement from the Patterson Progressive Alliance. Cox had an almost 2-1 advantage over Josh Harder in polling taken after debate number three in Modesto on January 5. Read MoreTJ Cox exposes tax scam
If anyone understands taxes, corporations, and jobs, TJ Cox does. Cox is running against Jeff Denham to represent people in Congressional District 10 (CA-10). He’s spent his life looking for and finding solutions to many of the Valley’s intractable problems, including health care and jobs.  Read MoreStop Westlands’ war on Valley environment now
Westlands Water District’s war on the environment began the day the largest water district in the United States was formed. The really fascinating aspect of the history of Westlands is that it has always had very few water rights. But the lack of water rights hasn’t stopped Westlands from grabbing water from those who do have water rights through political chicanery at the highest levels.  Read MoreTwelve kids facing eviction
After eleven years in the same house, the Munn family of Modesto is facing eviction. Trouble began when the owner died. His survivors first offered the family first right of refusal and an opportunity to buy the house. In the midst of negotiations, the family was suddenly ordered to leave the premises. Read MoreRaces Stanislaus County School Districts
We are not endorsing in every race, but The Valley Citizen recommends the following: AREA 5: Juan P Vazquez HART RANSOM: Matt Dobbs and Sandy Riggins Read MoreRivers belong to all of us, says Peter Drekmeier
“Not all farming is created equal,” says Peter Drekmeier in the Sacramento Bee, and he’s right. Farmers, doubtless intoxicated by the money and power they’ve generated during the almond boom, have decided they want ALL the water from our rivers. Read MoreDebate bounce for Cox
TJ Cox’s “jobs and the economy” message must have resonated with many of the audience members at last Wednesday’s candidate forum in Turlock on September 21. According to a survey conducted by Our Revolution Turlock, Cox received the biggest post-debate bounce of all the candidates. Read More

New look for Valley Citizen
Because WordPress sometimes moves on, so must the Valley Citizen. Our old format has developed some glitches that can’t be corrected, so we’ll be moving soon to a new format. We’ll try to make things even more user-friendly, and try to keep most of the same features. Read More
Stockton suit against Delta tunnels
The City of Stockton has joined a host of other entities in a suit against the proposed Twin Tunnels project on the San Joaquin Delta. Touted by Governor Jerry Brown as a water conservation measure, the multi-billion dollar project has long been opposed by environmentalists. Read More
Denham votes against rivers
Jeff Denham’s record on the environment is at least consistent: he’s against it. Last year, he tried to remove “Wild and Scenic” protective status from the Merced River. Early in July, he voted in favor of HR 23, a water grab by farmers south of Denham’s own district. Read MoreNunes: “I can do whatever I want…”
Like Donald Trump, many of today’s Republicans see political dominance as a license to indulge whatever desires might seize them at the moment, including serial lying. Read MoreSpeaking of Devin Nunes…
Most likely because of its combination of insider knowledge and (sometimes brutal) candor, On the Public Record is still our favorite water blog. Recent commentary on the harm done by Congressman Devin Nunes is a must-read.  Read MoreDenham’s “bipartisan” claim goes viral
Congressman Jeff Denham’s claim that the repeal of Obamacare was a “bipartisan” effort has made headlines nationwide. Denham made the claim during a town hall meeting in Riverbank. Read MoreTime to balance the water books?
Modesto’s Vance Kennedy, a retired hydrologist, has long argued we need to begin our management of local groundwater by doing a “mass balance.” A mass balance measurement is simply an informed estimate of how much total groundwater is available at a given time.  Read MoreThe real skinny on dams and water
Every time there’s an above-average water year, cries resound for more dams. Among the loudest voices is that of Devin Nunes, a Valley congressman. But are more dams really the answer to our need for storage? Read MoreMore Enron accounting in water
Hard on the heels of the Westlands Water District financial scandal comes another. California state controller Betty Yee has announced multiple improprieties after a review of the nearby Panoche Water District’s administration. Read MoreDenham Trumps Health Care
Jeff, “Mr. Reach Across the Aisle,” Denham has once again shown his much-promoted willingness to work with Democrats is false advertising. Denham just joined his Republican buddies in their campaign to end the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Read MoreGotta read this farmer on rivers and groundwater
We took a lot of flak when we argued increased river flows would help recharge groundwater. Now we’ve got a lifelong Valley resident and farmer arguing the same thing. Read MoreValley Citizen Hacked
Sometime in the last few weeks, The Valley Citizen was hacked and the subscription feature disabled. It appears the comments function was also compromised, but only insofar as it allowed more spam messages. Read MoreClinton wins Stanislaus County
In yet another bizarre result of the strangest election ever, Hillary Clinton won the Stanislaus County vote count by a narrow margin of one-hundred eighty-nine votes. With all precincts counted, Clinton had 21,327 votes to Donald Trump’s 21,138. Read MoreScience and a restored delta
Nature is remarkably resilient. The more scientists learn about the importance of interrelationships in ecosystems, the better we understand how to restore and maintain sustainable living on an increasingly crowded planet. Read MoreFlows are not just about salmon
Too many Valley citizens have bought into the people versus salmon story, where every drop of river water gets dedicated to saving a few fish. Read MoreSan Joaquin will flow
For the first time in more than sixty years, the San Joaquin River is expected to flow year-round in 2017. The restored flows are the result of a decades-long lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council and part of an effort to restore salmon runs along the river. Read MoreIs Fresno the new Flint?
In certain sections of town, Fresno homeowners complained for years about the dirty water coming from their taps. Like many Valley residents, they worried about the sporadic discharges of brown and smelly water that came from their faucets and shower heads and were frustrated when public officials were slow to respond.  Read MoreJudge denies director’s appeal for fees
In a judgment issued September 19, Judge Roger Beauchesne has denied Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) Board Member Gary Osmundsen’s appeal for reimbursement of fees incurred when he was charged with a conflict of interest involving OID’s fallowing program. Read MoreMore OID conflicts?
The closer you look at the Oakdale Irrigation District’s (OID) reliance on outside water sales, the more you find a tangled web of hidden agendas, outright secrecy, and conflicts of interest. Read MoreDenham flips Bee the bird
It didn’t take Jeff Denham long to tell the Modesto Bee where to get off. As we predicted, the Bee’s threat to withhold its endorsement for long-time favorite Denham unless he publicly dumps Donald Trump was met with what amounts to the middle-finger salute. Read MoreBig win for fisherman
On July 25, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided in favor of Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and the San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association in litigation about the Bureau of Reclamation’s decision to deliver millions of acre feet of water annually to San Joaquin Valley farmers. Read MoreMore on Laura’s Law
Why don’t more counties have Laura’s Law? It’s a good question and the most common answer is lack of funding. However, it appears there’s funding available when counties know how to take advantage of it.  Read MoreHomer hits a homer
Panhandling, controversial as it is, has consistently been ruled a legal expression of speech by U.S. courts. Recently, anti-panhandling signs popped up in downtown Modesto. While it’s easy to understand why merchants wish to discourage panhandlers, justifying the signs in legal terms requires legal, moral, and ethical contortions worthy of a circus performer. Read MoreMust read on homelessness and health
The wait in emergency rooms is almost always extended by the number of homeless people needing treatment. It probably doesn’t take much thought to realize that homelessness itself contributes to poor health, but it also makes it harder to get and take medication, maintain personal hygiene, and eat properly.   Read MoreWestlands: Enron of water?
Westlands Water District, one of Oakdale Irrigation District’s favorite water buyers, has been fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for “misrepresentations and omissions” in a 2012 bond sale.  Read MoreGreat letter Kim
Once in a while a letter to the editor captures the essence of a problem and the beginnings of a solution all at once.  Read MoreMercury in the water?
A statewide survey of mercury levels in fish-eating birds has revealed potential dangers to the birds’ reproductive success. Read MoreA word to the wise from Dr. Kennedy
We were pleased to see the Bee print Dr. Vance Kennedy’s concerns about flood possibilities this year as a record El Nino builds off the Pacific Coast. Read MoreStapley opens door on water sale
It didn’t take Modesto Bee reporter Garth Stapley long to ferret out a few more details on the Oakdale Irrigation District’s (OID) secret water sale. Read MoreUpdate on OID water sale
The Manteca Bulletin has the most complete story yet available on the Oakdale Irrigation District and South San Joaquin water sale. Read MoreDon’t miss The Messenger
On November 21 the State Theatre in Modesto and Stanislaus Audubon will show The Messenger. This award-winning documentary film is a visually thrilling ode to the beauty and importance of imperiled songbirds, and what it will mean to all of us on a human and global level if it they are lost. Read MoreMcNerney blasts tunnels plan
Congressman Jerry McNerney has joined scientists, environmentalists, fisherman, and farmers in opposing Governor Brown’s Twin Tunnels Plan. Read MoreMore on Westlands agreement
As expected, the Obama administration approved an agreement with Westlands Water District that forgives a $350 million debt to the people, enables transfers of water to toxic soils, and continues subsidies for corporate agriculture. Read MoreWorst water giveaway yet?
Westlands Water District has long held special status in the complex water rights hierarchy. No matter how junior its water rights, it somehow manages to acquire massive amounts of water even during droughts. Read MoreGotta read this from OtPR
After reading Vance Kennedy’s method for doing a “water-in minus water-out” accounting (see below), you MUST read the graphic description of how an industrial-sized well is causing subsidence near the California Aqueduct in Fresno County. Read MoreDr. Kennedy’s water wisdom
One of the most time-honored ways to stall is to claim there’s a need for “more data.” That’s been going on with the groundwater crisis for years now. Read MoreThe newest super crop?
Almonds are by far the super crop of the 21st century. Global demand has pushed prices into the stratosphere, and though much has been written about water demands for nut orchards, almonds actually consume less water than crops like alfalfa and rice. Lately though, many farmers have been taking a closer look at olives as a possible crop of the future. Read MoreMore from the Maven
One person has done more to inform people about water in California than any other and that one person is Chris Austin, better known as “Maven.”  Read MoreScary groundwater facts
By now most everyone knows about subsidence in the San Joaquin Valley—sinking land surfaces due to overdrafting groundwater. That’s scary enough, but there are lots of other frightening facts associated with today’s groundwater pumping frenzy. Read MoreIt’s not London Bridge that’s falling down…
It’s your bridges, and yes, it’s, “bridges,” plural. Accelerated pumping of groundwater is accelerating subsidence, the sinking of land mass that accompanies overdrafting. Read MoreNeed water? Check the Classifieds
Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) farmer Grover Francis is among those who believe at least some of his fellow farmers will run out of water this year. Read MoreA lesson in paper water
“Paper water” is water that exists on paper only. Usually it’s a figment of a developer’s sales pitch, but it’s also figured in plenty of agricultural fantasies, especially those that involve permanent crops like almonds. Read MoreModesto’s unknown water sales
The City of Modesto is one of the few in the San Joaquin Valley to have abundant surface water, the result of building a water treatment plant years ago. But even Modesto citizens have been ordered to cutback water use, and most would be surprised to learn Modesto water is sold outside the region.  Read MoreDepleted aquifers threaten national security
Overdrafting is depleting the nation’s aquifers so fast that it’s threatening national security. Three of the major aquifers in the U.S. are in especially precarious condition, including our own Central Valley aquifer. Read MoreGreat overview of Delta water issues
The San Joaquin Delta is the focal point for much of the controversy about water in California. Rarely does anyone offer an opportunity to contextualize the partisan debates about who gets Delta water and why, but Erica Goode has provided one of the best recent summaries in an essay that appeared in The New York Times June 24. Read moreWestlands in secret water deal?
Friends of the River (FoR) has notified the Department of Justice and other federal agencies that it believes Westlands Water District has entered into a secret agreement in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. Read MoreIs The Maven a genius?
We don’t know whether The Maven’s a genius or not, but given her brilliant contributions to the California water knowledge base, she deserves accolades of the kind reserved for geniuses. Read MoreSabatino to run
The irrepressible Carmen Sabatino will enter the next race for Mayor of Modesto. The perennial candidate surprised everyone when he became Mayor of Modesto in 2000. Read MoreThe status quo is unsustainable
As the drought intensifies, plain speaking about water tends to disappear among flurries of hyperbole, misinformation, and finger-pointing. Read MoreAlmond sanity
Mark Bittman understands food better than most anyone and has a rare talent for communicating his knowledge. Whether he’s writing a cookbook or summarizing the many evils of “animal concentration camps,” Bittman always delivers a sane and progressive view of food and eating. Read MoreA little crude but informative
A new water blog features several articles from The Valley Citizen and some useful primary documents about such things as the Oakdale Irrigation District’s (OID) annexation of Trinitas Partners. There’s also some news about upcoming elections for some of OID’s board members. Read MoreOur new subscription feature
Some of our readers have had trouble using the RSS Feed function (orange button in header) to subscribe, so we’ve added another subscription feature. It’s in the same column as “Around the Region.” Read MoreLearn more about loss of rangelands
Dr. Jaymee Marty is supremely well qualified to talk about loss of rangelands and the effects on biodiversity, vernal pools, and grasslands. She will be speaking at a free presentation Read moreOn the Public Record strikes again
One of our favorite sites is On the Public Record. It’s a gathering place for water insiders for a good reason: the writing is trenchant, informative, current, and lively. Read MoreOakland Tribune Harpoons Governor 
Governor Jerry Brown continues to take heavy broadsides for his Twin Tunnels plan. One of the latest comes from an Oakland Tribune editorial that claims the Twin Tunnels’ real purpose is to service the water demands of Big Ag in the southern parts of the San Joaquin Valley. Read MoreSinking even faster?
If you’ve got that “sinking feeling” you have a good reason if you live in the San Joaquin Valley. The area from Los Banos to Kettleman City―some fifteen hundred square miles― features the largest known expanse of land subsidence in the world. Portions have sunk almost thirty feet. Read MoreSuper sane ag and water report
The American Farmland Trust (AFT) usually has a balanced and informative viewpoint on the importance of distinguishing prime farmland from less productive and sustainable farmland. Read MoreBruce Frohman on egg prices
We common folk who shop for our own groceries were dismayed early in the year by the spike in egg prices. In January, the price for a dozen of the lowest grade eggs at the local bargain supermarket was about $2.85. Prices peaked around $3.50 per dozen, about the regular price for the most expensive “cage free” eggs. Read MoreThink we’ve got it bad?
Is Tulare County the model for our future? We better hope not. The long-time center for agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley, Tulare County has 1013 dry wells. Farmers are spending as much as $750,000 to drill 1800 feet in a search for water that may not be there.  Read MoreSave the date
The Stanislaus Audubon Society (SAS) will show a one-hour movie depicting local birds and wildlife at Modesto’s State Theatre on Sunday April 12 at 3:00 p.m. Filmed entirely in Stanislaus and Merced counties, Read MoreAll about the Delta
Chris Austin, better known as “Maven,” may be the most knowledgeable water authority in the state. Her “Maven’s Notebook” aggregates California water news and is read by virtually everyone with an interest in western water issues. Read MoreMust read on water and the Delta
No matter how perilous our water situation gets, most people don’t react until the well runs dry. Pat Mulroy has the credentials, the experience, and the authority to communicate just exactly how dire our water crisis really is Read MoreLike local sports?
In many of our Valley towns, high school football is by far the most popular entertainment available. Not only do the town’s residents attend their home teams’ games, they spend the off-season rating players and the teams’ chances for league success. Read MoreKey to pumping groundwater?
One of the most successful groundwater management plans in the state is in Orange County, in one of the most arid regions of California. The secret? Read MoreLatest on the almond boom
Even in the midst of what may become the worst drought in a century, almond orchards are sprouting like weeds. At first glance, the ongoing installation of even more water-gulping orchards is madness. Read MoreMore demand on groundwater coming?
In December, the Bureau of Reclamation warned Stockton East Water District that it might not receive its full allotment of water this year. As January ends without rain, prospects for Stockton East look even worse.  Read MoreBee to lose veteran journalists
The Modesto Bee will lose veteran reporter Joanne Sbranti and long-time staff photographer Debbie Noda within the next month. The two veteran journalists have accepted buyouts and will leave just as the Bee seemed to be restoring journalistic excellence under a new general manager and publisher. Read MoreHow better?” says Jay Lund
Jay Lund, one of the most thoughtful voices on water in California, is arguing for a new environmentalism. He’s probably right when he says the public is tired of the old environmental frame of “good guys” vs “bad guys.” Read MoreTen percent? Are you kidding?
The water year for 2014 ended as the third driest ever. It followed two years of near-record drought and put huge demands on groundwater reserves. The Department of Water Resources just announced that customers of the State Water Project have been allotted ten percent of their contracted water for 2015. Read More“The worst place for water….is California,”
says Jay Famiglietti. Famiglietti’s is one of the most urgent and intelligent voices on California’s mounting water problems. Read MoreWhere’s the Bee fact checker?
Almond production has become a major San Joaquin Valley issue ever since the groundwater crisis. California produces eighty percent of the world’s supply, and almost all of that comes from the San Joaquin Valley. Read More

Really worth a look
Whoever he or she is at On the Public Record, we wish s/he would post more often. On the Public Record offers an insider’s view of California water issues, probably because it’s written by someone so deep inside s/he writes anonymously. Read More

Pretty much says it all
In an open letter to Supervisor Jim DeMartini, former City Councilwoman of Hughson Barbara Swier says all that needs to be said about mining water in the foothills of eastern Stanislaus County. Read More

Best report ever on the river?
John Sutter finally completed his 417 mile voyage down the San Joaquin River via kayak, at least where possible. Read More

EPA rips Twin Tunnels’ scheme
In a 43-page letter packed with critical comment, the Environmental Protection Agency has pointed out what critics said all along:  Read More

Tunnels Scheme the new “Chinatown”
Carolee Krieger is about as good as anyone at describing what goes on behind the water curtain. Water has always been the quickest way to money and power in the arid south west, and it still is. Read More

It’s official: California is living on “paper water”
For over a quarter century, insiders have referred to “paper water” when talking about the discrepancy between allotments of water from the state and actual water available.  Read More

Wanna know why Big Ag headed for the hills?
The pressure has been on corporate farming of almonds for years now as more and more people realize how Big Ag rigged the water game to transform junior water rights into a perpetual revenue stream.  Read More

The really big water scandal
Ever hear of the Monterey Amendments? Most people haven’t. But if you really want to know what’s wrong with water allotments in California, the Monterey Amendments are a good place to begin. Read More

Bee’s Water Wake-up Call
In a rare display of pointed criticism, a Modesto Bee editorial has chastised Stanislaus County Supervisors for failing to take action on the county’s severe water crisis. Read More

Judge: Groundwater Affects Surface Water
In a historic ruling that will reverberate around the state and especially in the San Joaquin Valley, a judge has ruled that the Public Trust Doctrine applies to groundwater. Read More

San Joaquin County Supervisors Oppose Tunnels
Ordinarily, city and county leaders favor huge public works projects in their region for the income they bring their constituents. Read More

Kayak the San Joaquin River?
American Rivers called the San Joaquin River the most endangered in the United States, yet many people in the San Joaquin Valley know almost nothing about it. Read More

Water rights? The state rules
Political opportunists never let a crisis go to waste. That’s why so many San Joaquin Valley politicians are using the drought as an excuse to grandstand about water rights.   Read More

Sacramento Bee gets it
While the Modesto Bee stays busy congratulating the Stanislaus Water Advisory Committee for failing to take action on the groundwater crisis in eastern Stanislaus County, the Sacramento Bee is calling for state regulation. Read More

Want well? Got $1,000,000?
It’s hard to know what’s more shocking, the price or the depth. Maybe both are incredible. Down in Fresno County, owners of a new orchard are paying a million bucks for a well that will be 2500 feet deep. Read More

State suspends water rights for 2600 users
How bad is the drought? State government has ordered 2600 water users to stop diverting water from streams. Read More

Twain Harte Out of Water?
In one of many ironies associated with the current drought, the town of Twain Harte may run out of water before the end of the dry season. Read More

We’re always happy to correct the record, and this time we made a big mistake. Thanks to an alert reader, we now know that the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) Board of Directors DID NOT VOTE 4-1 to allow owners of wells to hide information. Read More

Farmers and others to lose water rights
Just how bad is the drought? Any day now the state State Water Resources Control Board is expected to issue orders suspending water rights that go back as far as 1914. The measure is a sure sign that officials have given up on the possibility of more rain this season. Read More

Bee Minder Beemused by Bee
A regular reader of the Modesto Bee, the Bee Minder, a philosophical sort, finds himself puzzled by the epistemological implications of news about what’s not. We last saw him pondering Keats’ “negative capability” and its application to celebrity worship. “There’s no there, there,” he muttered. Later, he sent the query below. Read more

Another must read on groundwater
Seems the only people in California not worried about our dire groundwater situation are some local well drillers and Oakdale Irrigation District’s Steve Knell. Despite lack of concern locally, the rest of the state seems ready for intervention in the form of strict restrictions on mining groundwater. Read more

Vance Kennedy in the San Jose Mercury News
Lisa Krieger’s exhaustive investigation of the water crisis in the San Joaquin Valley features Modesto’s own Vance Kennedy and a host of other water experts. Read more

Wood Colony story in the New York Times
Wood Colony and “The Tree” have made the New York Times. The story of the German Baptist Brethren who settled Wood Colony and the iconic walnut tree that may be the largest in the world are now in the most famous
newspaper in the world. Read more

Toxic Waste Update From Bruce Frohman
Caltrans plans to announce at the February 19th Policy Board Meeting of the Stanislaus Council of Governments that the agency does NOT plan to remove the toxic waste piles from the 132 Freeway right of way in Modesto. Read more

Latest on Wood Colony
Not often does an issue galvanize people throughout the region like the possibility of paving Wood Colony farmland. The Spare Wood Colony movement now has a newsletter. Read more

Rogues Gallery
Over at Eye on Modesto, Emerson Drake has a nice rundown of the key players in the Chamber of Commerce’s plan to extend the boundaries of the Asphalt Empire. You’ll see some familiar names, Read more

Petition to save Wood Colony
The Asphalt Empire is at it again. Under the cover of the “jobs, jobs, jobs” slogan, the Modesto Chamber of Commerce is proposing to pave over even more farmland than it already has. Read more

Twin Tunnels Actual Costs
It’s no accident that spokespeople for the Westlands Water District are often featured in reports and commentary about the proposed twin tunnels project to divert water from the San Joaquin Delta. Read more

Barker lights ‘em up
Brad Barker’s land use column in Thursday’s Bee is a must read, and be sure to scroll down to Scott Calkins’ comments below the column for the icing on the cake. Read more

Chief Carroll gives Ricci plan two thumbs down
The Modesto Bee published a bizarre proposal by Chris Ricci and Kimberly Humke on November 16. Headlined as a “Possible
Solution for Modesto’s  Safety Needs,”
 the suggestions under the headline seemed silly on the surface. Read more

Pacific Institute’s Gleick slams Delta tunnels plan
Peter Gleick, President of the Pacific Institute in Oakland and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, has just issued a scathing critique of the proposed Delta tunnels plan to divert water south. Read more

Denham still attacking Wild and Scenic
Jeff Denham hasn’t given up his assault on the “Wild and Scenic” status of the Merced River. He’s supporting Tom McClintock’s HR 934, which would put an end to the Merced’s special status and provide a wedge for water guzzlers like the Westlands Water District to demand even more water be shipped their way. Read more

NRA takes a big hit
Governor Jerry Brown just signed Assembly Bill 711, a ban on lead shot for any use in California. AB 711 was fiercely opposed by the National Rifle Association, and represents one of the few defeats ever for the politically powerful group. Read more

The Eggman eggs Denham
Michael Eggman let Jeff Denham have it last Monday, and many Valley Citizens are egging the Eggman on. The Eggman lit into Denham in a Modesto Bee Community Column. Denham already has plenty of egg on his face lately, Read more

What’s with DeMartini endorsement?
September 27, we ran a story about Carmen Sabatino’s endorsements in the campaign for a position on the Modesto Irrigation District Board of Directors. The endorsements included one from Stanislaus County Supervisor Jim DeMartini. Read more

Refuge Closed
Refuge Manager Eric Hopson has sent a reminder that the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge will be closed for the duration of the government shutdown. The closure includes Read more

Must read Vance Kennedy on groundwater
Emerson Drake’s publication of city and county documents obtained by using the Freedom of Information Act is one of his best services to Valley citizens.  Read more

Better check out Vance Kennedy’s water warning now
At Eye on Modesto, Emerson Drake has a must read letter from Vance Kennedy to the Modesto Irrigation District (MID)
Board of Directors. Dr. Kennedy is the retired U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist who probably knows more about local water and soil issues than any other three people combined.  Read more

Tell Senator Galgiani you support the ban on lead ammunition
The dangers of lead shot are so well known that lead shot was banned for waterfowl hunting back in 1991. This year, because lead poisoning is now the leading cause of death for California Condors and extremely harmful to other raptors, Read more

You heard it here first: Sabatino to run
The irrepressible Carmen Sabatino has filed papers to oppose John Mensinger for a position on the Modesto Irrigation District Board of Directors. Sabatino easily holds the local record for most losses in political campaigns, but no one will ever forget Read more

Abell and Drake: Chamber bombs in Salida
Last Monday night’s meeting of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce meeting with citizens of Salida may not have been all the Chamber would have wished. Emerson Drake and Athens Abell offer differing takes, Read more

Modesto’s dangerous journey toward another fiscal cliff
Just how dumb is sprawl? Take two short trips online and find out. First, go to Emerson Drake’s Eye on Modesto and read about the Chamber of Commerce’s grandiose overreach in planning Modesto’s future. Read more

More bad news for the Delta tunnels
Touted as the “scientific” solution to the failing Delta ecosystem and diminished salmon runs, Governor Jerry Brown’s Twin Tunnels plan just took some devastating hits from a chorus of science-based agencies, Read more

Why don’t we hear this from the Bee?
Want an interesting contrast? Take a look at a recent editorial in the Merced Sun Star. Like the Modesto Bee, the Sun Star is McClatchy owned. Unlike the Bee, Sun Star editors are far more wary of development that threatens prime farmland.  Read more

Emerson Drake has the Chamber’s “jobs” plan
With his usual diligence, Emerson Drake has provided a copy of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s proposal for bringing jobs to Modesto. As usual, the Chamber thinks all there is to it is roads and “shovel ready” land.  Read more

Vote on Delta plan meets fierce opposition
Even though it was approved by a 7-0 vote, the Final Delta Plan was met with fierce opposition by fishermen, environmentalists, family farmers and elected representatives. Many with a stake in the future of fish and Delta farming view the Delta plan Read more

Bee water coverage biased says Dr. Kennedy
Vance Kennedy is among the most knowledgeable people about water in our region. He has a PhD in hydrology and worked for the U.S. Geological Survey. Although the Modesto Bee occasionally interviews Dr. Kennedy, given his knowledge, it’s stunning how seldom his opinion is sought on local water and soil issues. Read more

Emerson Drake has latest on Chamber’s ag mitigation blockade
While Stanislaus County has made real progress with its agriculture mitigation policy, the City of Modesto is doing its best to avoid protecting the best farmland in the world. Read more

California in violation of Safe Drinking Water Act
Those who track water issues closely have known for a long time that many locales in California lack safe drinking water. These locales include many small towns in the San Joaquin Valley. The residents of these towns are often poor farm workers. Read more

Merced River makes endangered list
American Rivers, one of the world’s leading conservation groups focused on rivers, has placed the Merced River on its endangered list. Number one on the list is the Colorado River, which has been in peril for decades. Read more

Interesting stats from Emerson Drake
Emerson Drake’s April 4 post at Eye on Modesto features some useful stats on campaign contributions as well as
commentary on Modesto’s “Tin Cup” ordinance. Look especially at Dave Cogdill’s numbers. Read more

Bee joins Denham’s attack on Merced River
No one should be surprised that the ModestoBee has joined Jeff Denham’s attack on the “Wild and Scenic” status of the Merced
River. The Bee has been the foe of rivers and fish for a long time,  Read more

What? Water at $2,000 an acre foot? Yes.
When the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission offered the Modesto
Irrigation District $700 an acre foot for water, many were stunned at what
seemed to be a stratospheric offer. Now comes news of an agreement by the San
Diego Water Authority to pay an eye-popping $2,000 an acre foot for water
produced by a Carlsbad desalinization plant. Read more

Valley citizens support San Joaquin River in a big way
Anyone who thinks Valley citizens don’t love their rivers needs to check in with Stanislaus Audubon Society. The local chapter of the National Audubon Society participated in a statewide campaign to broaden public support for restoration of the San Joaquin River, which has been so overused that it runs dry for a sixty mile portion of its length. Read more

Do fish really need water?
Opponents of increased flows along our rivers, including former Modesto Irrigation District General Manager Allen Short, continue to argue that declines in fish populations can’t be attributed to lack of water. Science says otherwise. Read more

Denham Continues to Assault Wild and Scenic
Among the very first things Jeff Denham did when elected to the U.S. Congress was mount an assault on the “Wild and Scenic” status of the Merced River, and he’s still at it. Denham’s justification is “jobs.”  Read more

Sinking farmland threatens salmon
A vast expanse of farmland near Madera has sunk two feet in the last two years as a result of pumping ground water. The subsidence is threatening restoration of salmon runs on the San Joaquin River because Read more

Emerson Drake seeks action against Modesto cat killer
Love your pet? Don’t we all. Imagine a neighbor luring your beloved pet into a trap and then spiriting your friend away to a place of no return. Horrible as this sounds, Modesto not only has such a person, Read more

They’re back—salmon return to the San Joaquin River
In what will go down as one of the more dramatic chapters of California natural history, salmon have returned to the San Joaquin River. Monty Schmitt, Senior Scientist and San Joaquin River Project Manager, reports that Read more

Local land and water: Worth more than we know
Just in case you ever doubt just how valuable our local farmland and water really are, consider the situation further south in Tulare County. Decades of heavy applications of pesticides and fertilizers have poisoned the ground water. Read more

High Valley winds are full of dust and danger
It’s easy to forget what happens when the wind blows here in the San Joaquin Valley, but residents should be aware of the health problems involved as well as of the ongoing deterioration of our potential to farm, as the wind is a major factor in loss of precious Valley topsoil. Read more

Westlands Water District pours thousands into anti-Delta campaigns
Think you’ve heard everything about the Westlands Water District? This is the District that is determined to keep draining the San Joaquin Delta so that farms on the arid and alkaline west side of the San Joaquin Valley can keep growing crops that are better grown elsewhere. Read more

Water District in a sleazy ploy to halt film
The Westlands Water District is at it again. According to Restore the Delta, Westlands Water District, in an attempt to stop the showing of a Restore the Delta documentary film, passed itself off as the Tea Party.  Read more

Saltwater in Westley? Yes, and more all the time—
Those who still think we have more than enough water need only consider what’s happening in nearby Westley, where almond growers are facing catastrophe in the form of intruding salt water. Naturally salty west side soils are becoming saltier as the result of irrigation. Now, in some places, the salt is having disastrous effects on crop production, Read more

Want another good reason to go organic?
Hard on the heels of studies that show widespread contamination of groundwater in several Central Valley counties come new rules for farmers. The Central Valley Water Regional Control Board has estimated the cost of implementing the new rules at $100 million.Read more

Poisoned water? You really don’t want to know—
Among the lesser known facts about water in the Great Valley is just how much is unfit to drink. Toxic water is an especially severe problem in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Read more