How much water is used in agriculture in 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 water. Most of this irrigation water is used very efficiently.Mar 16, 2022

What are the uses of water in agriculture?

Typical sources of agricultural water include:

  • Surface water Rivers, streams, and irrigation ditches Open canals Impounded water such as ponds, reservoirs, and lakes
  • Groundwater from wells
  • Rainwater Locally collected water such as cisterns and rain barrels

What are the main uses of water on California?

  • Withdrawal source types include groundwater, both fresh and saline,
  • and surface water, both fresh and saline;
  • Eight water-use categories include thermoelectric, public, domestic, livestock, mining, industrial, irrigation, and aquaculture.

What agriculture does California produce the most of?

by Rachel Bertone to California, California Crops & Livestock One of only five agricultural regions in the world with a Mediterranean-growing climate, California produces more than 400 animal and plant commodities annually, more than any other state, with top ag products including milk, almonds, grapes, beef and more.

How much water is used for agriculture?

As previously mentioned, 70% of the world’s water is used for agriculture annually. That’s over 2 quadrillion gallons of water, enough to cover the entire United States in 2 feet of water. To understand how we use most of this precious resource we need to understand how it is allocated.


What agriculture uses the most water in California?

alfalfaThe fact is, alfalfa is the crop that consumes the most water in California.

How much water does the agriculture industry use?

As previously mentioned, 70% of the world’s water is used for agriculture annually. That’s over 2 quadrillion gallons of water, enough to cover the entire United States in 2 feet of water.

How much of California’s water goes to animal agriculture?

Livestock Love Water According to a report from the Natural Resource Defense Council, around 80 percent of water in California is used for agriculture.

How much water is used in California?

Urban/residential The study found that about 53% of total average household water use, or more than 192 US gallons (0.73 m3) per household per day, was used for landscaping and other outdoor uses. Meanwhile, indoor use accounted for more than 170 US gallons (0.64 m3) per household per day.

Who uses 80% of water in California?

agricultureIn California 80% of our water goes toward agriculture and 20% of that goes to tree nuts.

Which states in the United States use the most water for agriculture?

2) Agriculture remains the biggest water user by far In California, agriculture accounts for 80 percent of state water withdrawals. (The state is responsible for roughly one-third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts.)

What percent of water goes to animal agriculture?

Animal agriculture is responsible for 20 to 33 percent of all fresh water consumption in the world.

What sector uses the most water in California?

Foundation. 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.

How much water do Californians waste?

California wastes most of its rainwater, which simply goes down the drain. California’s wet winter has dumped an estimated 18 trillion gallons of rain in February alone.

Could CA run out of water?

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is now predicting that California only has enough water supply to last one year.

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).

How much water does California use to irrigate?

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 crops grown in California?

California’s conditions are favorable for the production of a multitude of crops and more than 400 commodities, including almonds, walnuts, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, and grapes. California’s agricultural success can be attributed to irrigation, the act of supplementing rainfall during times of no precipitation to meet the water demands …

What is the role of irrigation districts?

Irrigation districts and water agencies play a role in distributing irrigation water, which includes obtaining and maintaining legal rights to the water, and wielding the water to meet the irrigation demands of its members. Water purveyors are involved in long-term planning for water supply; development and maintenance of the delivery infrastructure; regular billing of their members; helping members meet water conservation goals; and assisting with wildlife habitat and water quality outflow requirements.

What is agriculture in science?

Agriculture is the practice and science of cultivating soil for growing crops to provide food, fiber, and other commodities and products for people to purchase and consume.

What is a water purveyor?

Water purveyors are involved in long-term planning for water supply; development and maintenance of the delivery infrastructure; regular billing of their members; helping members meet water conservation goals ; and assisting with wildlife habitat and water quality outflow requirements .


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.

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 , …

What is California’s water rights system?

California has a complex system of water rights, which evolved from a system of first dibs instituted by its early settlers. In the Western states, where surface water can be scarce, early miners and farmers would dig channels to divert water from far-away streams. Often, the streams weren’t even on their property.

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.

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.

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.

When did sprinklers water the grass at Gleneagles Golf Course?

Sprinklers water the grass at Gleneagles Golf Course on April 2, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Significant cuts in use will be imposed on cemeteries, golf courses and facilities with large landscapes. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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.

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.

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.

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.


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