Jul 08, 2019

California Groundwater Program Could Help Farmers

Groundwater trading may help restrictions against over-pumping aquifers

Groundwater trading may help restrictions against over-pumping aquifers

A California water district developed a groundwater trading project that could help farmers in the area with state restrictions for over pumping groundwater aquifers

The pilot program will allow specific landowners to buy or sell groundwater to and from other property owners in the district, according to Bakersfield. This water trading model is the first project in the district designed to meet Central Valley agriculture’s reach long term sustainability goals for groundwater use. This is required under 2014’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

An Environmental Defense Fund report praises water trading as a strategy to help farmers effectively reallocate water toward valuable uses. The report states that the trading is appropriately constructed and offers potential to both encourage and reward groundwater conservation, according to Bakersfield.

Rosedale-Rio Bravo General Manager Eric Averett said farmers, who are members of the district receive groundwater allocations under SGMA. According to Bakersfield, the account is similar to a checking account and would be credited or debited, depending on the purchase or sale groundwater. 

"SGMA is a requirement that we balance our checkbooks, and the [water-trading] market basically, you know, gives people who have perhaps been writing too many checks the ability to purchase water from those who have not been writing as many," Averett said, according to Bakersfield

In the program restrictions would apply. According to Bakersfield, farmers will be eligible to trade water only under the program. This does not include commercial or residential property owners.