The California Farm Water Coalition is hoping that the Turlock Irrigation District will help fund its commitment to build four interactive exhibits at Sacramento’s Powerhouse Science Center in an effort to educate consumers throughout the state about the importance of agriculture.
“We have really benefitted from the support and leadership of TID over the years and we hope that you’ll join us with this small request of being part of the Powerhouse Science Center,” said CFWC Executive Director Mike Wade when he addressed the TID Board of Directors on Tuesday.
CFWC was formed in 1989 during a six-year drought to increase public awareness of the agriculture industry’s efficient use of water and environmental sensitivity regarding water. The organization has three primary goals to serve as the voice of agricultural water users, represent irrigated agriculture in the media and to educate the public about the benefits of irrigated agriculture.
“The mission of the California Farm Water Coalition has been to serve as a principal source of factual information on agricultural water use for the public, for the legislature and for the agricultural industry,” said Wade. “We see ourselves as a reflection of what happens in irrigated agriculture and helping other members of the industry from other organizations do a better job talking about water issues when they engage with their constituents and the public.
The CFWC Board of Directors made a decision over a year ago to commit $1 million to building four interactive exhibits at the Sacramento Powerhouse Science Center, which is slated to have over 25,000 square feet of exhibit space including a full-dome digital planetarium theater, an all new Challenger Learning Center, and all new interactive exhibits in earth sciences, conservation, physical sciences, astronomy and space sciences.
Wade said that with these exhibits, the CFWC hopes to educate consumers on the diversity of California agriculture and its water footprint, how much water it takes to grow food, the need for water and nutrient supplies for soil and water use efficiency.
Wade said one of the CFWC’s outreach efforts is the highway sign program, which is a grassroots campaign developed in partnership with Coalition members, local farm bureaus, water districts and farmers. Along major roadways such as Interstate 5 and Highway 99, the CFWC has posted a variety of signs with phrases including “Food Grows Where Water Flows” and “Irrigated Agriculture Feeds the World.”
“According to Caltrans data, we get 118 million impressions year of people that drive by our primary 12 locations,” said Wade. “The program has grown beyond our early expectations and it really serves a public face for the many people who don’t see the other things that we do.”
The CFWC also hosts a number of tours for legislators, according to Wade, who said the Coalition’s latest tour was with Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who is currently running for Governor of California.
“He was very interested in some of the labor issues and the water supply issues—particularly on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley,” said Wade. “He lamented after seeing how water supplies have been cut and the impacts it’s having on employment and communities.”
Additionally, Wade said that the CFWC has been working with a number of organizations and commodity groups to form “Cultivated California,” which brings together a broad base of voices in agriculture to talk about the connection between food supply and water supply in rural areas of the state.
“We’ve had very positive results going back to some of the online advertisements and outreach efforts that we’ve done,” said Wade. “Throughout the program, we’ve raised over $600,000 through non-irrigation district sources to carry our message to urban southern California.”
The TID Directors did not take action on Tuesday about the CFWC's request for funding.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, TID General Manager Casey Hashimoto addressed the concerns of Hughson resident Ray Diaz regarding cyber security after Friday’s massive cyber attack that briefly blocked access to over 1,200 websites including Twitter and Netflix.
“We know that a well-executed cyber attack could affect the western power grid and the TID assets,” said Diaz. “Hopefully, TID has their own aggressive plan for this. Give us some reassurance that there is something going on.”
Hashimoto agreed with Diaz, stating that the need for cyber security is an ongoing concern within TID. Back in 2007, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation came up with rules for utilities such as TID to comply with, a lot of which regard cyber security standards.
“Since 2007, TID has been getting our system hardened, there are requirements for firewalls between business systems, between outside communications, and so forth,” said Hashimoto. “These standards have been upgraded continuously since 2007 and each time TID has been required to comply. We have audits by the regulators and TID has successfully passed all the audits every three years.
“The recent one that happened was a denial of service type of attack and even some of our systems that provide the Board their packages on Friday were difficult to get out, so that type of attack on our system that runs our electric system is a little harder to do,” continued Hashimoto.