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‘Farming the Sun:’ As Water Goes Scarce, Can Solar Farms Prop Up The Valley?

On the Changala family farm in Tulare County, the past and future are separated by a dirt road and a barbed-wire fence.

On the south side sits a wheat field. On the north, a solar farm, built three years ago, sending electricity to thousands of Southern Californians. Alan Changala sees little difference between the two.

California Farmers Fear ‘Catastrophic’ Water Restrictions. Can They Adapt to Survive?

It was 2015 and, as far as John Konda knew, farming still had a viable future in the San Joaquin Valley. So he expanded.

The Tulare County grower planted 75 acres of pistachios, adding to a farm he’s owned since 2003. Two years later, in order to augment his water supply, he drilled two new groundwater wells.

Panel: An Update On How The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Is Working

When California adopted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014, it became the last Western state to regulate its groundwater. If local groundwater agencies fail to submit plans to the state by 2020, the law says state water agencies could take over management of groundwater, a resource that’s critically important to Valley agriculture. Moderator Kathleen Schock got an update on how the work is progressing locally from Gary Serrato, executive director of the North Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency, Christina Beckstead, executive director of Madera County Farm Bureau, and David Orth with New Current Water and Land.

California Turning Away From Traditional Imported Water Sources and Toward More Resilient Localized Water Supplies

In 2014 California enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which provides the framework for local water management agencies to develop and implement groundwater sustainability plans in order to sustainably manage the state’s groundwater within 20 years. This legislation was California’s first ever attempt to sustainably manage groundwater resources, a long overdue effort given that the state relies on groundwater for 40 percent of its total water supply in an average year. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act aims to ensure that groundwater basins are being managed in a way that achieves “sustainable yield”—the maximum quantity of water that can be withdrawn annually from a groundwater supply without causing an “undesirable result.”