Opinion: Transcending old thinking about California agricultural water use

Outlet: Hearst Communications Inc.

December 4, 2011

The debate about water use in California agriculture is stuck in a 30-year-old rut; relying on outdated and technically-flawed thinking that is slowing statewide efforts to meet 21st century challenges. This is exemplified by the recent release of a study authored by researchers at the Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT) and funded by a Sacramento-based farm lobby group (the California Farm Water Coalition) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The CIT study uses old theories of water-use efficiency to argue that the potential to improve efficiency of water use in California agriculture is tiny. If the authors of the study are right, the only options for saving water in California agriculture would be to dramatically change crops or to take a considerable amount of agricultural land out of production – which would be bad news for our farming communities, our economy, and our environment. The good news is that they are wrong…

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