How much water does california use for agriculture


What are the uses of water in agriculture?

On average, California agriculture irrigates more than 9 million acres using roughly 34 million acre-feet of water typically diverted from surface waters – rivers, lakes, and reservoirs that deliver water through an extensive network of aqueducts and canals – or pumped from groundwater.

What are the main uses of water on California?

California’s agricultural success would not be possible without irrigation. In an average year, approximately 9.6 million acres are irrigated with roughly 34 million acre-feet of water; an amount that would cover 31 million football fields with 1 foot of …

What agriculture does California produce the most of?

Water Use in California. Water in California is shared across three main sectors. Statewide, average water use is roughly 50% environmental, 40% agricultural, and 10% urban, although the percentage of water use by sector varies dramatically across regions and between wet and dry years. Some of the water used by each of these sectors returns to rivers and groundwater …

How much water is used for agriculture?

 · Arguably the most useful water data that California collects from farm regions is the result of SBx7-7, a 2009 state law that requires water districts supplying more than 4,047 irrigated hectares (10,000 acres) to measure the amount of water they deliver to farms, and to submit annual reports with monthly figures. Not complying renders a district ineligible for state …


What percent of California’s water is agriculture?

Yet, considering that agriculture accounts for approximately 80 percent of all the water used in California, even small improvements in agricultural water use efficiency can be significant.

How many acres of water can an agricultural water supplier provide?

Agricultural water suppliers that provide water to between 10,000 and up to 25,000 irrigated acres (excluding recycled water) are not required to prepare or submit AWMPs under SB X7-7, unless state funds are made available to support this.

What is the DWR requirement?

DWR was required to adopt regulations that provide for a range of options that agricultural water suppliers may use or implement to comply with agricultural water volume measurement requirements in SB X7-7 (Part 2.55, Chapter 4, §10608.48 (i)) (1)).

What is an annual report for agricultural water?

Agricultural water suppliers who fit the above requirements must submit an annual report on the total aggregated amount of surface water they delivered to their agricultural customers along with a description of best professional practices for determining deliveries.

How many agricultural water suppliers are required to submit a water management plan?

An estimated 54 agricultural water suppliers met the 25,000-acre minimum threshold and are required by SB X7-7 to submit water management plans. Below is the status of the 2012 Agricultural Water Management Plan review as of August 10, 2015, including a link to a list and the submittal status for each individual agency.

Is the agricultural water management plan revision?

The Agricultural Water Management Plan Guidebook is undergoing revision for 2020 requirements. Please contact us if you would like a copy of the 2015 Guidebook.

What is the AWMP in agriculture?

These plans must include reports on the implementation status of specific Efficient Water Management Practices (EWMPs) that were required under SB X7-7.

Where does California’s water come from?

Half of California’s environmental water use occurs in rivers along the state’s north coast. These waters are largely isolated from major agricultural and urban areas, and their wild and scenic status protects them from significant future development. In dry years, the share of water that goes to the environment decreases dramatically as flows …

How much water is used in cities in the 1990s?

Even before the latest drought, per capita water use had declined significantly—from 231 gallons per day in 1990 to 180 gallons per day in 2010—reflecting substantial efforts to reduce water use through pricing incentives and mandatory installation of water-saving technologies …

Why is agriculture so dependent on groundwater?

Agriculture relies heavily on groundwater during droughts —particularly in the Central Valley—but more sustainable groundwater management is needed to maintain this key drought reserve. An increase in tree and vine crops—which need to be watered every year—is making farming more vulnerable to water shortages.

What are the benefits of water?

Environmental water use falls into four categories: water in rivers protected as “wild and scenic” under federal and state laws, water required for maintaining habitat within streams, water that supports wetlands within wildlife preserves, and water needed to maintain water quality for agricultural …

Is water use falling in California?

Despite population growth, total urban water use has also fallen. The San Francisco Bay and South Coast regions account for most urban water use in California. Both rely heavily on water imported from other parts of the state. Total urban water use has been falling even as the population grows.

Is 2015 a drought year?

NOTES: Except for 2015 (a severe drought year), the figure reports estimates for normal rainfall years. Pre-2000 estimates are adjusted to levels that would have been used in a year of normal rainfall. Estimates are for water years (October to September).

Why is it important to monitor water data in California?

Researchers and officials say that better monitoring and reporting of water data, and easier access to the data that are collected is necessary for improving the efficiency and productivity of a scarce resource . Farmers are being pressed to duplicate the same water reporting requirements required of California’s urban centers.

What is the idea behind farmers paying for water?

The idea is that farmers, if they pay for each unit instead of paying a flat fee, will use water more wisely. Ben Jemaa makes an analogy to urban water bills. “When households know how much they use, they tend to use less and use it more efficiently,” he explained.

How much water does Booth use?

The system works. Smith said that Booth uses 2.1 acre-feet of water per acre on its orchards, roughly 20 percent less than the industry average.

How does irrigation system wear down?

Like all mechanical equipment, irrigation systems wear down. Distribution lines clog, pipes break, pumps deteriorate. Instead of being applied evenly across a field, water in a poorly performing system might pool in certain areas. That wastes both the water and the electricity to pump it from the ground.

Why is better data important for farmers?

Better data is not only a matter of state oversight. Knowledge of pumping rates and water use can help farmers maximize water supplies, reduce waste, and cut energy consumption.

Do all groundwater basins have metering requirements?

Not all groundwater basins, however, are a mystery. Basins that have gone through a court process to sort out groundwater rights, most of which are in Southern California, do have metering and reporting requirements. Others levy fees on each unit of water removed from the aquifer.

Do farmers have to report groundwater use in California?

Groundwater has been a lifeline for farmers during the drought, but California does not require farmers to track and report how much they use. Click image to enlarge. Not only are farmers not required to report groundwater use. The state has no requirement that they measure how much they pump.


The terms and units used in this report are similar to those used in previous USGS National Water-Use Reports and are defined in the Glossary. Water-use data are expressed in units of gallons per day.

Limitations of Water-Use Data

The California water-use summary presented here is based on estimates compiled from a variety of sources. There is significant uncertainty associated with many of these estimates.

Sources of California Water Use Data and Methods of Analysis

The USGS California Water Science Center publishes water information on many topics, including water use. USGS national guidelines for preparing water-use estimates were followed. Water-use estimates and ancillary data were entered into a State aggregate water-use database and reviewed within the USGS and by cooperating agencies.


The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance provided by the many State and local agencies that shared data and expertise with the USGS. Cooperators include State agencies that manage water resources, operate data-collection programs, and administer regulations on water use and natural resources.

How much water was used in California in 2010?

The total California water use in 2010 was about 70 million acre feet per year. 50% of that was environmental usage, 40% was agriculture (28 million AF/year), and 10% was urban (7 million AF/year). Environmental means use in maintaining water recreation, or the ecology of rivers and lakes.

How much revenue did California agriculture bring in 2013?

California Agriculture in 2013 brought in $46.4 billion in revenue. Exports were $21.2 billion, which was 14.7% of US Agriculture exports.

How much water does beef use?

As far as water for various food products, beef comes in highest at 1700 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef. According to, the almond association, there are 23 almonds to an ounce. It takes 1.1 gallons of water to produce a single almond.

How much water efficiency does almond growers have?

According to, the almond association, almond growers have increased water efficiency 33% over the last 30 years. 70% of growers use micro-irrigation, and 83% study soil moisture, weather, and the needs of the trees to determine irrigation.

What percentage of water is urban?

Among other water, 33% is environmental, 53% is agricultural, and 14% is urban. Of the agricultural and urban water, 80% is agricultural, and 20% is urban.

How much water does it take to make almonds?

It takes 1.1 gallons of water to produce a single almond. So to produce a pound of almonds, it takes 16 oz x 23 almonds/oz x 1.1 gallons/almond = 405 gallons to produce a pound of almonds. That is less than one fourth the water usage for a pound of beef.

What percent of California’s water is agriculture?

Agriculture is 80 percent of water use in California. Why aren’t farmers being forced to cut back? – The Washington Post

How much water did California save in 2013?

Cities and towns are now prohibited from using more than three-quarters the amount of water they used in 2013. This will save an estimated 1.5 million acre-feet, or nearly 500 billion gallons of water , …

Why are city water agencies better equipped?

City water agencies tend to be better equipped to ensure that their water portfolios are lush. If their delivery contracts fall through, they can afford to drill deeper wells, or buy water off of people with senior water rights.

Who holds senior water rights?

Many of the senior water rights, established over a century ago, are held by farmers. This helps enable the industry to thrive. But many farmers don’t have the luxury of a near certain water supply. They have to figure out where they will get their water from, and the only certainty there is that it will cost them dearly.

Why does the state water board cut off people with more junior water rights?

During droughts, the state water board starts to cut off people with more junior water rights. The board issues notices telling them to stop drawing water in order more senior rights holders to drink their fill. This happened last summer, and the board has already issued a warning for people to expect curtailments again this year.

How much did the drought cost farmers in 2014?

Economists estimatethat in 2014, the drought cost farmers about $2.2 billion through lost crops and increased water costs. They believe that the impact of the drought on the agricultural sector eliminated 17,100 jobs from the state economy. Story continues below advertisement. Some have suffered much more than others.

Who is the largest water supplier in California?

The government is the largest water supplier. California’s State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project store rain and runoff in reservoirs instead of letting it flow away. These systems sell to both farmers and towns, who buy water delivery contracts. But in dry years, these contracts, too, dry up.

Why is it important to look at average water prices?

While looking at average water prices in each district can be useful, it’s important to put that information into the context of a lending portfolio. Not only can prices vary from one basin to another, but a farm with fewer appropriative water rights may end up paying more than a farm with access to sufficient water sources.

What are some ways to reduce drought risk?

Farms at higher risk of water stress can apply drought mitigation methods such as more efficient irrigation systems, water storage infrastructure, or regenerative agriculture. Growers who don’t take water costs into account may have no choice but to pay more for water transfers.

Do urban farms pay more water?

As the Berkeley News notes, an urban farm is likely to pay much higher water costs than a commercial grower:

Is California water price a key data point?

California agricultural water prices are also a key data point to include when performing due diligence as part of a water risk assessment. As regulators and investors expect ag finance institutions to disclose climate-related ESG risks, it will be more important than ever to have an accurate understanding of water costs.

What happens when water prices are too high?

If prices are too high, then it may no longer make economic sense to grow water-intensive crops. When prices are too low, water transfers are less valuable on the open market. Before making any decisions about agricultural investments, ag professionals should take California agricultural water prices into account to make informed decisions.

Can you transfer water from another county?

Note that if water transfers are from another county or region, then they may not come in time due to transfer regulations. It is wise to understand the geographic, district, and county logistics of a borrower’s water transfers. GIS technology can be an invaluable asset in this.


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