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» March 2, 2005 «
Snow survey crews confirmed yesterday (Tuesday) that February storms have helped maintain a healthy snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. Surveyors at Echo Summit measured the water content of the snow at 136 percent of average. Statewide, the snowpack stands at 130 percent. The surveys allow planners to forecast how much water may be available for environmental uses, crop irrigation and urban supplies this summer.
Concerned about the potential impact of salty irrigation water, Ventura County farm groups have formed a coalition to seek improved water quality. The groups say they will ask regulatory agencies to enforce standards for salts in the Santa Clara River. The salt levels have been linked to the operation of upstream water treatment plants. Farm groups say important Ventura County crops such as strawberries, lemons and avocados can be hurt by salty irrigation water.
A proposal to ban biotech crops will go before Sonoma County voters this fall. County supervisors set the election yesterday. The initiative would prohibit biotech crops for at least 10 years. A report presented to the supervisors said the proposed ban could cost Sonoma County $250,000 a year to enforce. Farm groups oppose the measure, saying it will harm both farming and the environment.
A proposal to allow Chinese fresh apples to be imported to the U.S. worries California apple growers. The California Apple Commission says Chinese orchards harbor some 160 pests that do not live in the United States. American apple growers have urged U.S. officials to make sure those pests don't travel with imported fruit. Because of extremely low labor costs, Chinese farmers increasingly compete with American apple shippers in foreign markets.Top