Agricultural Water Use Efficiency

California is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world.

A view of water-efficient drip irrigation. DWR/2016.

California is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, and is the major producer of many nuts, fruits, and vegetables. In fact, California is the only producer of 13 commodities  and is a top producer of more than 74 different commodities in the U.S. The state exports a huge quantity of agricultural products, bringing more than $20 billion into California’s economy.

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.

What do we mean by “used efficiently?” This means that water that isn’t used on one farm is used on another, so that the same amount of water can be used to produce more crops. Also, this water can be used to help recharge groundwater.

Yet, considering that agriculture accounts for approximately 40 percent of the state's total water use (with total water use including environmental and urban uses) or approximately 80 percent of all developed water (water that is controlled and managed for a variety of purposes) used in California, even small improvements in agricultural water use efficiency can be significant.

We work with the agricultural community and other interested parties to find solutions for improving agricultural water-use efficiency and to meet State agricultural water management and measurement requirements.

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As part of our continued partnership with local experts to make strategic investments in water supply resilience projects across the state, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) presented a $5.5 million grant to the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District to support groundwater resilience in Central Coast communities, including disadvantaged ...

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