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Ag Water Use Efficiency Workshop Set for July 20

A workshop looking at the current trends and conditions of agricultural water use efficiency will be held by the State Water Resources Control Board on July 20 in Sacramento. The informal workshop will include presentations and panels of experts and practitioners exploring the state of California’s agricultural water use efficiency and the outlook for greater efficiency.

The Department of Water Resources estimates that 9.2 million acres of farmland are irrigated with approximately 42.2 million acre-feet of water, representing approximately 75% of California’s developed water. Expected to be discussed at the workshop is the report issued earlier this year by Delta Watermaster Craig Wilson, in which he outlined the “reasonable use” doctrine. Wilson recommends that the State Board employ this doctrine to promote agricultural water use efficiency. The doctrine states a water right does not include the right to waste water and mandates that “the water resources of the state be put to beneficial use.”

A small percentage of increased agricultural water use efficiency adds up to significant water savings in California, according to Wilson. The report recommends that the State Board convene a “Reasonable Use Summit” to develop specific actions to improve efficiency and create a “Reasonable Use Unit” within the Division of Water Rights.

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