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Additional Water for the San Joaquin River Agreement,
2000 – 2010 Supplemental EIS/EIR

8. LAND USES

8.1 AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT

Chapter 3.6 of Meeting Flow Objectives for the San Joaquin River Agreement, 1999-2010, Final Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (Final EIS/EIR, Reclamation 1999) describes existing land uses and related socioeconomic conditions in the Project Area and vicinity. The affected environment is the socioeconomic context in which the Proposed Action would provide additional water for instream flows. The primary issue for the subsequent impact analyses is the potential for the Proposed Action to affect agricultural activity and land use. In this section, updates have been made to the population data, population density, and agricultural employment from the Final EIS/EIR. This is followed by a brief discussion of land uses in the Project Area focusing on agriculture, the primary land use.

8.1.1 Socioeconomic Environment

The boundaries of 14 counties are partially or wholly within the entire San Joaquin River Basin. Of these, five contain the major facilities and irrigation districts associated with the No Action Alternative and the Proposed Action; these are used to represent the Project Area and vicinity. Tuolumne County covers portions of these reservoirs and all of New Don Pedro Reservoir, while all of Lake McClure is located in Mariposa County.

The districts who are willing sellers have service areas that are located in the following counties (see Figure 3.1-1 of the Final EIS/EIR):

  • Modesto Irrigation District (MID): Stanislaus County
  • Turlock Irrigation District (TID): Stanislaus and Merced counties
  • Merced Irrigation District (Merced ID): Merced County

New Melones Reservoir and the Stanislaus River could be affected by the Proposed Action. These facilities are located in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. Either these seven counties (excluding Calaveras, which covers half of New Melones Reservoir only and not the affected rivers) or other geographic approximations of the Project Area are used to describe the affected rural environment, depending on the availability of information. The other geographic areas used are:

  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s San Joaquin River Region comprised of eight counties and used in the Central Valley Project Improvement Act Draft Programmatic EIS (Reclamation 2000a)
  • San Joaquin River Region as described in the Draft Programmatic EIS/EIR (CALFED 1998).

These two regions are explained further Section 3.6 of the Final EIS/EIR. For information on poverty and ethnicity, see Chapter 13, Environmental Justice.

8.1.1.1 Population

The total county population and recent growth in the San Joaquin River Project Area and vicinity (Table 8-1) document that growth for the area since the 1990 Census was 323,400 people or 15.9 percent, which is close to the rate of growth in the state as a whole. Both San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties have higher growth rates, 16.3 and 17.2 percent, respectively, which reflect more rapid urbanization here than in many other counties in California.

Table 8-1

Population Growth, 1990-1999

County

Total Population
July 1, 1999

Total Population
July 1, 1990

Numerical Increase
1990 - 1999

Percent Increase
1990-1999

Mariposa

15,900

14,550

1,350

9.3

Merced

207,000

180,200

26,800

14.9

San Joaquin

562,600

483,800

78,800

16.3

Stanislaus

439,800

375,200

64,600

17.2

Tuolumne

52,800

48,650

4,150

8.5

San Joaquin River Area

1,278,100

1,102,400

175,700

15.9

State

33,899,000

29,679,000

4,220,000

14.2

Source: California Department of Finance 2000.

The centers of municipal and industrial land use in the Project Area and vicinity include the cities of Stockton, Modesto, and Merced. The cities of Stockton and Tracy have grown recently, largely in response to job development and housing constraints in the nearby San Francisco Bay Area. Table 8-2 contains the 1999 population totals for the major cities located within the five Project Area counties.

Table 8-2
City Populations, 2000

City

County

Total Population
January 1, 2000

Merced

Merced

63,300

Lodi

San Joaquin

57,900

Los Banos

Merced

23,250

Manteca

San Joaquin

49,500

Stockton

San Joaquin

247,300

Tracy

San Joaquin

54,200

Modesto

Stanislaus

188,300

Turlock

Stanislaus

53,500

Source: California Department of Finance 2000.

8.1.1.2 Population Density

Although the Project Area contains major cities (Table 8-2), it also contains substantial nonurbanized or rural land that reduces overall population density. The San Joaquin River area’s population density rounded to the nearest person is 58 persons per square kilometer (sq km), which is 26 percent less dense than the state as a whole with 84 persons per sq km (Table 8-3). San Joaquin County’s population density is the highest in part because the land area excludes portions in the Delta usually covered by water.

Table 8-3
Population Density, 1999

County

Land Area (sq km)1

Total Population2
January 1, 1999

Population Density
(persons/sq km)

Mariposa

3,759

15,900

4

Merced

4,996

207,000

41

San Joaquin

3,625

562,600

155

Stanislaus

3,871

439,800

114

Tuolumne

5,790

52,800

9

Total Region

22,041

1,278,100

58

State

403,970

33,899,000

84

Sources:

1 Gaquin and Littman 2000.
2 California Department of Finance 2000.

8.1.1.3 Employment

As reported in the Final EIS/EIR, the San Joaquin River Region is comprised of eight counties: Calaveras, Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne (Reclamation 2000a). This region is slightly larger than the Project Area and vicinity discussed above, which excludes Calaveras, Fresno, and Madera counties. Employment in the San Joaquin River Region is described in Technical Appendix, Volume 5 of the Final Programmatic EIS and summarized here (Reclamation 2000f).

In 1940, agriculture was the largest single employer out of the following industry sectors: agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation/communications/utilities, trade, finance/insurance/real estate, services, and government. At that time, agricultural production provided 34.9 percent of total household employment in the region. By 1992, agricultural production provided only 8.3 percent of total wage and salary employment in the area or about 56,000 jobs. Currently, the largest proportions of wage and salary jobs in the region are in services, wholesale and retail trade, and government sectors, respectively (Reclamation 2000f).

More recent data on agricultural wage and salary employment are available from the California Employment Development Department (EDD 2000a). Table 8-4 presents the average employment during March 1999, with March used as a benchmark since agricultural employment peaks during the period May through September with short-term and migrant labor. Total agricultural wage and salary employment in the seven-county San Joaquin River area averaged 36,480 jobs or over 7 percent of all wage and salary jobs in the region. In contrast, only 2 percent of all the jobs in the state were in agriculture in 1999. About 11 percent of the state’s farm employment of 320,200 is located in the San Joaquin River area. Wage and salary workers are all employees receiving compensation from agricultural employers, both production workers and other staff not involved in production.

Table 8-4
Annual Average Industry Employment, March 1999 Benchmark

County

Total Employment All Industries

Farm Employment

Total

Production

Services

Mariposa

5,680

20

NA

NA

Merced

69,400

8,100

6,600

1,500

Stockton-Lodi MSA1

(San Joaquin County)

223,700

15,800

11,100

4,700

Modesto MSA1
(Stanislaus County)

175,100

12,400

7,200

5,200

Tuolumne

18,300

160

NA

NA

San Joaquin River Area

492,180

36,480

24,900

11,400

State

15,527,500

320,200

193,800

126,400

Source: EDD 2000b.

Notes:

NA = Data not available.
1 1990 Census Metropolitan Statistical Area

8.1.2 Land Uses

The Final EIS/EIR discusses land uses that refer to other geographic areas that approximate the Project Area and vicinity. That discussion is summarized below.

8.1.2.1 General Land Use

General land use within the San Joaquin River Region (i.e., CALFED’s San Joaquin and Tulare Lake hydrologic basins) consists largely of agriculture, particularly in the western portion of the San Joaquin River basin. The foothills of the Sierra Nevada range, located in the eastern portion of the basin are largely open space. Watershed lands, such as the Merced River watershed, contain forest resources at the higher elevations.

In 1990, urban land use was approximately 295,000 acres (CALFED 1998). Urban areas include the cities of Stockton, Modesto, Merced, and Tracy, as well as smaller communities such as Lodi, Galt, Madera, and Manteca. The western side of the region is sparsely populated. Small farming communities, all along State Highway 33, provide services for farms and ranches in the area. CALFED reports that about 4,750,000 acres of important farmland were mapped in the San Joaquin River Region in 1994, excluding the legal Delta portion of San Joaquin County (CALFED 1998).

Land uses along the San Joaquin River consist primarily of rural residential and agricultural areas until the river enters the Delta near the community of Vernalis, below the confluence with the Stanislaus River. Predominant land use within the Stanislaus County portion of the Stanislaus River watershed is agriculture. As the Stanislaus River passes through the city of Oakdale, land uses consist of urban uses including commercial and residential. In the San Joaquin County portion of the watershed, land uses are primarily agriculture and open space. Land use in the Tuolumne River watershed is primarily agriculture. Urban land uses in the lower reaches of the Tuolumne River watershed include the city of Modesto and the communities of Waterford and Ceres. Land use in the Merced River watershed is primarily open space (foothill pasture) within the upper reaches, and agriculture in the lower reaches. A few rural communities are located within the watershed with the largest being the town of Livingston.

8.1.2.2 Agricultural Land Use

The San Joaquin River Region, including the following counties: Fresno, Kern, King, Madera, Merced, 54 percent of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare, encompasses approximately 64 percent of farmland in the Central Valley (CALFED 1998).

The importance of agricultural land in the San Joaquin River Project Area and vicinity (five counties) is shown in Table 8-5, which provides information on land devoted to agriculture: land in farms, cropland, and irrigated acreage. The San Joaquin River area contains 2,774,000 acres of farmland as of 1997. This acreage represents just over 50 percent of the total land area in the five counties (5,446,256 total acres) and 10 percent of the total farmland in California. Irrigated acreage in the San Joaquin River area was 1,377,000 acres, over 49 percent of the area’s total farmland, which is substantially higher than the 31 percent irrigated farmland for the state.

Table 8-5
Agricultural Land and Irrigated Acreage, 1997

County

Total Land in Farms(1,000 acres)

Total Cropland (1,000 acres)

Total Irrigated Acreage (1,000 acres)

Percent Irrigated Farmland

Mariposa

198

9

3

1.5

Merced

882

532

493

55.9

San Joaquin

809

559

519

64.2

Stanislaus

733

382

359

49.0

Tuolumne

152

13

3

2.0

San Joaquin River Area

2,774

1,495

1,377

49.6

State Total

27,699

10,804

8,713

31.5

Source: Gaquin and Littman 2000, pp. 140, 154.

California leads all other states in the value of crops produced, and Central Valley crops, which account for about 10 percent of total U.S. market value of agricultural crops, are responsible for most of this production (Reclamation 2000c). In the San Joaquin River Region, fruit and nuts, vegetables, and cotton account for approximately 50, 20, and 10 percent, respectively, of the total value of crop production (CALFED 1998).

Agriculture in the San Joaquin River Region receives irrigation water from the Central Valley Project (CVP), the State Water Project (SWP), local water rights and water projects, and groundwater as shown in Table 8-6. Most of this water is delivered to farmers through irrigation districts and other water agencies (CALFED 1998). About 40 percent of irrigation water sources in the San Joaquin River Region are from local water rights or local water projects. CVP water provides 35 percent of total irrigation water uses, mostly to the Westlands Water District, which is south of the Project Area. The rest of the region’s water is from the SWP and groundwater pumping (CALFED 1998).

Table 8-6

Irrigation Applied Water Use in the San Joaquin River Region, 1985 to 1990

Water Source

Thousand acre-feet

Local Surface Water

4,854

CVP Water

4,268

SWP Water

1,168

Local Groundwater

1,803

Total Water

12,093

Source: CALFED 1998, p. 8.1-11.

8.2 ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES AND MITIGATION MEASURES

This section evaluates the impact the Proposed Action would have on land uses and the economy in the Project Area and vicinity. As described in Section 8.1, agricultural land uses and the agricultural sector of the economy are important resources in the Project Area and vicinity.

8.2.1 Key Impact Issues and Evaluation Criteria

With respect to land use, the primary issue is the extent to which the additional water from the willing sellers (up to 47,000 acre-feet) would affect agricultural land uses and, therefore, the agricultural economy in counties in the Project Area and vicinity.

Evaluation criteria for determining impact thresholds of significance include the following:

  • Reductions in municipal water supplies that could affect local populations
  • Permanent or long-term reduction in jobs in the agricultural sector of the economy
  • Permanent or long-term reduction in agricultural acreage within the San Joaquin River area

8.2.2 Environmental Consequences

This analysis relies on information provided in the Final EIS/EIR regarding water uses potentially affected by the Proposed Action. The analysis also relies on economic information provided in the Central Valley Project Improvement Act Draft Programmatic EIS and its Technical Appendix, Volume 5 (Reclamation 2000a, 2000f), the Draft Programmatic EIS/EIR (CALFED 1998), and the Draft EIS/EIR for Implementation of the 1998 Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan (State Board 1998) in addition to information presented above in Section 8.1.

The hydrologic analysis (Appendix A) indicates that the Project releases would occur during approximately 10 percent of the years (for the model period 1922 through 1992). During these few years when supplemental water would be released, a direct release to the lower Tuolumne River from New Don Pedro Reservoir would be made by MID and TID or to the Merced River from Lake McClure by Merced ID. In most of the modeled releases, the reservoir storage recovered the following year by reducing the releases that would otherwise be in excess of minimum flows on either of the rivers. In a couple of instances, the storage did not recover until 1 or more years after release.

The hydrologic analysis (Appendix A) indicates that release of up to 47,000 acre-feet would only take place during water years where available water supply is present. Irrigation deliveries to water users in the willing sellers service areas would not be affected. This means that the groundwater demands by the local irrigation districts would not increase because of the Proposed Action and no direct or indirect impacts would occur to groundwater. In fact, the releases could have the potential for a short-term recharge of groundwater due to the increased river stage in the downstream reaches of either the Tuolumne or Merced rivers (see Sections 5.2.2.1 and 5.2.2.2).

8.2.2.1 Socioeconomic Impacts

Population

The concern is to what extent the resident population would experience any water shortages as a result of implementation of the Proposed Project. Water shortages could constrain planned growth in the affected areas.

No Action. Under the No Action Alternative, which represents the existing condition, most of the available water for the San Joaquin River Agreement comes from carry-over storage in Project Area reservoirs and does not affect deliveries to irrigation customers in the years that would trigger the need for additional water. Deliveries to water users would occur consistent with current and planned contracts with the CVP, SWP, and local water districts. The water that could be used for the supplemental 47,000 acre-feet would remain in storage until released at a future date as spills or flood control releases.

Proposed Action. The Proposed Action would use available water (up to 47,000 acre-feet) from storage from either New Don Pedro Reservoir or Lake McClure that would otherwise be released under discretionary operations of the two reservoirs, and would not affect deliveries to irrigation customers. Consequently, no direct or indirect adverse impact would occur to local populations, nor would local population growth be affected.

Population Density

The density of population (persons per sq km) would be affected if the Proposed Action constrained development of land for residential uses and spurred population growth as infill development on vacant parcels within the urbanized area/agency sphere of influence.

No Action. Under the No Action Alternative, municipal water users receive their water supplies as explained above.

Proposed Action. The Proposed Action would not affect municipal water users because the additional water would come from carry-over storage. Consequently, no impact would occur to population density.

8.2.2.2 Regional Economy and Employment

As detailed in Section 4.6.2.2 of the Final EIS/EIR, the economic importance of agriculture to the communities of the Sacramento Valley, Delta and San Joaquin Valley is greater than just the gross value of farm products or the number of direct farm-related jobs. The agricultural industry impacts local and regional economies either directly in the activities that are required to produce and harvest a crop, or indirectly by the farm and farm-related incomes that may be spent on food, housing, and other consumer items.

Reductions in water deliveries to agriculture could lead to reduced farm production that generally results in the hiring of fewer workers. The following analysis evaluates the effect the Proposed Action would have on the regional economy.

No Action

The No Action Alternative (existing condition) relies on willing sellers to provide Vernalis Adaptive Management Program water that otherwise could be made available for irrigation uses. This full amount of water (110,000 acre-feet) would be needed in only a few years (short term), and the potential impact in some years would be substantially avoided through the use of groundwater to substitute for reduced surface water supplies to irrigate agriculture. Under No Action, the supplemental water would remain in storage until released at a future date for flood control or discretionary releases above minimum flow requirements.

Proposed Action

The Proposed Action would rely on TID and MID, or Merced ID, to provide up to 47,000 acre-feet of supplemental water approximately 1 year in 10. This water would be made available only in years where carry-over storage occurs. Therefore, no impact would occur to total jobs because no reduced farm production would occur from reduced water deliveries. There would be no reductions in water deliveries to irrigation customers due to the Proposed Action.

8.2.2.3 Agricultural Land Use

Agricultural land use can be described for this analysis as irrigated acreage, but it is also described by its cropping pattern.

No Action

Under the No Action Alternative (existing condition), a reduction to irrigation customers could occur (see Table 4.6-1 of the Final EIS/EIR) in some years. When irrigation water is reduced, farmers have several options: (1) obtain alternative sources of supply to supplement reduced surface water allocations, (2) increase water use efficiency including the reduction in deep percolation, and (3) match land use and cropping patterns to available water supplies through a combination of fallowing and shifts in crop type (State Board 1998). All of these measures affect farm profits (Reclamation 2000f). However, most of this surface water would be replaced by groundwater, including conjunctive use water, or come from surface water supplies (carry-over storage).

Proposed Action

The Proposed Action would rely on TID, MID, or Merced ID providing up to 47,000 acre-feet of supplemental water approximately 1 year in 10. This water would be made available only in years where carry-over storage occurs, and deliveries to water users would not be affected. Therefore, no impacts would occur to irrigation customers.

8.2.3 Impact Summary and Mitigation of Impacts

The following summary compares the Proposed Action on the Tuolumne and Merced rivers together with No Action.

8.2.3.1 Socioeconomic Impacts

Population and Population Density

  • No impact would occur to local populations, and local population growth would not be affected. No mitigation is necessary.
  • No impact would occur to municipal users, so no impact would occur to population density. No mitigation is required.

Regional Economy and Employment

  • No impacts would occur to jobs, because no reduced farm production would occur. No mitigation is required.

Agricultural Land Use

  • No impacts would occur to water deliveries to irrigation customers in years where the supplemental water would be needed. No mitigation is required.
Draft SES/EIR
CH8

December 20, 2000

 


Dennis W. Westcot, Project Administrator
San Joaquin River Group
716 Valencia Ave.
Davis, CA 95616-0153
(530) 758-8633
westcot-sjrga@sbcglobal.net

For information regarding this web site, contact the Modesto Irrigation District.