Water Conservation

As the world’s population continues to increase, our dependence upon irrigated agriculture grows. Agriculture is the largest industry in the Sacramento Valley with approximately 2 million acres of irrigated farmland. The Sacramento Valley is one of the primary water supplies in the state. Water originating and stored in the region is used here, and also delivered south for irrigation, municipal and industrial uses, and environmental conservation. As demand for water increases, there are increased pressures on the agricultural water supplies in the North State

The Agricultural Research Institute funded Drs. Eric Houk and Steffen Mehl to evaluating the hydrologic and economic effects of water conservation alternatives in the Sacramento Valley. The goal of this project is to evaluate how alternative water management scenarios (including transfers) will impact local hydrologic conditions (aquifer depth) and estimate the ultimate impact that these changes will have on agricultural production and the regional economy.; This is accomplished by utilizing an advanced hydrologic model (Central Valley Hydrologic Model) that integrates the relationships between land use, surface water, and groundwater. The integrated nature of the model allows us to investigate several different types of "what-if" or scenario-based analyses that reflect a wide range of water management alternatives. Once the hydrologic effects are modeled, an economic model is used to capture the impact that these changes have on irrigation costs, agricultural production, and farm income. In addition, the third party impacts that these changes have on the regional economy is estimated using established economic multipliers that account for the linkages between different sectors of the economy. The results of this study will raise awareness of how various water management decisions might impact local groundwater conditions and the economic consequences of these changes. Hopefully this increased awareness will help preserve more agricultural water supplies in the North State.

For more information, contact Dr. Eric Houk, College of Agriculture (530-898-4146) or Dr. Steffen Mehl, Department of Civil Engineering (530-898-5456).