Water Partnerships Between Cities and Farms Would Help Prepare for a Changing Climate

GV Wire

San Joaquin Valley farms and Southern California cities are facing different but equally daunting water challenges.

For Valley farmers, the requirement to achieve groundwater sustainability in coming years has heightened interest in expanding water supplies to reduce the need to fallow irrigated farmland. For Southern California, falling demands since the early 2000s have reduced water stress during normal and wet years, but a warming climate makes future droughts a major concern.

Both regions’ water futures could be more secure if they jointly developed and managed some water supplies.

In a recent report, we explored a variety of ways that these regions could work together on shared solutions by diversifying water supplies, building connections to share water more flexibly and preparing for the extreme events to come. Such partnerships – which also hold promise for the Bay Area and the Central Coast – would not only help farms and cities prepare for changing conditions, but also make the state’s water system more resilient to a changing climate.

Investments in urban conservation and alternative water supplies – such as water recycling and stormwater capture – could allow cities in Southern California, the Central Coast and the Bay Area to reduce the amount of water they now import from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. By participating in these investments, San Joaquin Valley farmers could obtain some of the Delta exports now going to coastal cities. Similarly, co-investments between farmers and cities in underground storage and conveyance infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley could allow more water to be captured during wet years, increasing overall water availability.

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