|IN THIS ISSUE:
MINUTE 308 UPDATE
The furor over Minute Order 308 has been rather strong and continuous, as most who are familiar with the situation don't see any positive provisions for Texas. As I reported last month, the 90,000 acre-feet transfer was essentially a loan that must be replaced either by nature or by a transfer from U.S. reserves. Moreover, the estimated 28,500 acre-feet conveyance loss is fixed, i.e., the U.S. must credit that amount of water to Mexico on October 26, regardless of any other aspect of the 90,000 acre feet loan/replacement.
While some State officials and members of Congress are talking about the imposition of some type of sanctions on Mexico, it is interesting that there have been discussions about selling part of Mexico's Colorado River waters to California, with the money generated being delegated to Texas to pay for necessary improvements to our conveyance systems. You might recall that I suggested that as an option several months ago as a means to erase Mexico's deficit and improve our systems so that we could be more efficient in our use of whatever irrigation water we might have in the future.
Apparently, the folks in Washington who negotiated this deal believed that the 90,000 acre feet of water would help Valley growers salvage their crops this season. Unfortunately, their knowledge of cropping seasons and water needs is sadly lacking. With very few exceptions, vegetable crops are finished in late spring. The harvest of grain sorghum runs from late May into June, while corn harvest is normally in June into July. Cotton harvest starts in July and ends in August. So, which crops are there in July which still need irrigation water? Only about 30,000 or so acres of citrus and about 45,000 acres of cane. No matter how you slice it, 90,000 acre feet spread amongst all rights holders is significantly less than 2 inches per acre-you can't irrigate with so little water, nor can an irrigation district deliver it.
Sorry, Washington water was needed in the spring to make the crops, not when it was time to harvest whatever they made. Meanwhile, since the 90,000 acre-feet is basically a short-term loan, it is not applied to the deficit. Thus, the projected deficit on September 30 is still at 1,644,812.92 acre feet, less any changes resulting from June, July, August or September inflows from the six named tributaries.
Scattered rainfall through July has been a blessing for most of us, although cotton producers may have suffered additional losses to already-reduced production. Fortunately, some heavy rains also fell in and around Falcon Reservoir. For the most part, the increased volume in Falcon is what is known as 50:50 water, since it came from the various arroyos that carry runoff from the brushlands on both sides of the River upstream of the dam.
The amount of water in the reservoirs was determined by IBWC last Saturday, but will not be officially credited until mid-August. For reasons I don't fully comprehend, it usually takes about two weeks to compare the latest month's volume to that of the previous month, to deduct the month's releases and losses to each country, to determine where any increase originated, to apportion the increase to the two countries (all by the IBWC) and then for the Watermaster (TRNCC) to complete his accounting deductions and allocations of the U.S. share to all rights holders, which is a much larger number than just the 24 irrigation districts in the Valley.
Tentatively, it appears that increases in lake levels could approach 160,000 acre feet. Some of that came from the named tributaries, which means that the recovery of Mexico's 90,000 acre-feet loan has begun and the projected deficit will be a little less than noted above.
According to recent data developed by Carlos Rubinstein (TNRCC) and provided to me by Jim Hearne (KURV) the same series of weather events that provided a little relief in the Valley and some inflows into the reservoirs were also beneficial to northern Mexico. As of July 20, interior reservoirs in Mexico had recorded about 275,000 acre-feet of inflows and the runoff had not yet ended. Marte Gomez and El Cuchillo on the Rio San Juan accounted for about 120,000 acre feet, which means that only about 155,000 acre feet entered impoundments on the "sharable" tributaries. Don't expect any of that impounded water to be released to the Rio Grande, however.
CANKER WOES CONTINUE-
Aside from wasting both time and resources having to defend its actions in the courts, Florida's citrus canker eradication program continues to face setbacks at nearly every turn. Recently, canker was discovered in a grove in Hendry County and in a dooryard grapefruit tree in Orlando. The Orlando find marks the northernmost confirmation to date, about the only consolation to which is that the industry itself doesn't extend too much further north.
While the Orlando discovery will impact trees in a lot of other yards within the 1900-foot rule, the Hendry County discovery involved a number of trees in a commercial orchard. More than 30,000 adjacent trees are being removed about 240 acres just a few short weeks before harvest would have commenced.
Reports of increasing populations of citrus rust mites are not surprising, given the higher humidity and rainfall of the last month. In most cases, growers have been able to maintain control to avoid economic damage, though spray machines have been excluded from a few orchards because of wet soil. If numbers haven't begun to increase in your grove, chances are that they will soon.
The rains have postponed the need for irrigation in many groves, but there is still another month to go before historical rains are due. Some groves may have to survive on the rains they got, as the grower either has no water left or the district isn't pumping. Maybe the Mexican loan and recent inflows will provide enough of an allocation that citrus growers who need water can get enough to make an application before the situation becomes critical.
And, it could always rain again. After all, the current tropical storm season is already two months old, with only one storm having been named to date. That's not much activity even for a normal summer, so the tropics could really start cranking at any time.
Despite water shortages, the crop looks good, with decent size and mostly clean fruit. Set is hard to estimate, although it should be as good as or better than last season, based upon the historical trend in which the overall volume is up in seasons ending in odd-numbered years, i.e., 2002-03.
JULIAN W. SAULS, Ph.D.
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