Cultivating Abundant Water
Partnering with farmers on regional solutions to ensure adequate water supply and storage
California is finding itself with intensifying water supply problems.
Our supply of fresh water – from rivers, streams and underground aquifers – is diminishing due to overuse, inadequate storage and a lack of infrastructure needed to move water where it is needed. Large volumes of groundwater are extracted to grow crops and support communities. Groundwater provides around 35% of all freshwater used in California during average years. During drought years, that percentage can creep past 60%.
Balancing Water Supplies
Current rates of groundwater pumping are far from sustainable, as we’re using much more than is naturally replenished. As a result, California is facing serious overdraft issues – including land subsidence and the intrusion of seawater into groundwater basins close to our coastline. This effectively jeopardizes our food supply, drinking water and groundwater storage capacity that could serve as a much-needed buffer during future droughts.
California has one of the most robust agricultural economies in the U.S. and supplies 50% of the fruits and vegetables that the nation consumes. Most agriculture in California requires irrigation and farming uses more than 75% of the state’s developed water supply.
Despite significant advances in water delivery and irrigation efficiency, many of California’s most productive farming regions increasingly face issues of water supply uncertainty, groundwater overdraft, nitrate contamination and declines in the health of California’s rivers and wetlands. With ever more variability in annual rainfall and snow accumulation predicted, there is an increased need for coordinated management of our surface and groundwater supplies.
Sustainable Conservation promotes solutions to promote water efficiency on farms and to replenish declining groundwater in farm regions across the Central Valley that need it the most. Our priority areas include the Pajaro Valley and Kings River watersheds.
A Sustainable Water Future
To keep the state’s environment and economy healthy, California needs to find new ways to manage its water to protect the state’s natural resources, maintain its thriving agriculture economy and support urban populations. The state’s current drought, now in its fourth year, represents an exciting opportunity to bring diverse constituencies together to find new approaches.
Sustainable Conservation is partnering with industry, government and conservation leaders to promote practices, technologies and incentives that conserve and protect our water in priority areas across California. These efforts will establish effective approaches to managing water that will sustain rural and urban communities, prevent water-related conflicts that have intensified in recent years and maximize local water supplies.
With our partners, Sustainable Conservation is launching pilot projects to develop solutions to balance competing water demands and protect our water supplies. These projects present an opportunity to explore the potential of a statewide effort to improve regional water management, thereby ensuring farmers have sufficient water to grow their crops, communities have clean drinking water and nature has enough clean water to support our state’s wildlife.
Read about our partnership projects: