Farm Bureau Lends Support to Ambitious Irrigation Plan

Sacramento Region, CA  |  By Bill Baird, SCFB

Proposed South County Ag Program Would Reduce Groundwater Pumping

Elk Grove, CA (MPG) - The Sacramento County Farm Bureau (SCFB) testified in support of an ambitious recycled water project before the California Water Commission this week in downtown Sacramento. The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District's (Regional SAN) plan would provide a safe and reliable supply of tertiary treated water for agricultural irrigation uses, which would reduce groundwater pumping and cause ground water tables to rise in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region.

Regional SAN is attempting to obtain funding for the project through the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) contained in Proposition 1, the water bond that California voters approved in 2014. The WSIP set aside $2.7 billion in funding for water storage projects that improve the operation of the state water system, are cost effective and provide a net improvement in ecosystem and water quality conditions.

"Sacramento County farmers and ranchers smashed crop production records last year by producing a record high $507 million worth of wine grapes, milk, pears, nursery crops and other agricultural commodities," said SCFB Executive Director Bill Bird during testimony before the CWC. "Our members broke that record because they had access to clean and reliable irrigation water supplies. Any project that would increase the reliability and quality of irrigation water supplies for Sacramento County growers has the Farm Bureau's support."

Modeling presented to the CWC showed that the groundwater recharge facilitated by the project would lead to a 20-30-foot increase in the groundwater elevation in the South American Sub-basin, plus increase flows in the Cosumnes River, a tributary to the Delta.

According to testimony provided by Regional SAN during the CWC hearing, the project is consistent with the objectives and intent of Proposition 1, and provides substantial agricultural, ecological, and regional water supply benefits at a low cost, particularly when compared to surface storage projects.

"This project is an example of the type of innovative multi-benefit groundwater projects California needs to implement to ensure our state has a more sustainable and reliable water supply," said Bird. "If Sacramento County growers are not forced to pump ground water for irrigation purposes because they can receive a reliable supply of water from another source at roughly the same price, they won't use those pumps."

The CWC is expected to start allocating grant funding for water storage projects early next year.

 Sacramento County farmers put food on your fork.  Our agricultural operations and products are as diverse as the lands we carefully manage.  We are proud to provide healthy, fresh food for your family and ours.  We invite you to join our efforts to protect Sacramento County's agriculture, rural character, and our ability to produce local, high-quality food for your table.

For more information call the Farm Bureau at 916-685-6958