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Beginners Guide: Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

A few years and droughts ago (2014 to be exact), Governor Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA) that affects water in California and food across the county. SGMA establishes a long-term plan to manage groundwater in California. It also creates Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to develop, prepare, and implement a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) in their areas. Local stakeholders in critically overdrafted areas have until 2020 to complete their plans and begin their implementation. Critically overdrafted areas include a good portion of the Central Valley of California. The Central Valley is California’s single most productive agricultural regions in the State and supplies more than half the fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in the United States.

Why Is This Important For Everyone

By the year 2050, the world population will exceed 9 billion people. We are going to have to increase worldwide food production dramatically to keep up with the growth. In the U.S. alone, we expect to see an increase of 117 million people.  This is a real challenge, California farming is going to have to grow more food with less water. It’s estimated by the Environmental Defense Fund between 15% – 20% of irrigated land will be taken out of production.  This means growing more food with less water and, it also means higher food prices for everyone.

Growers especially are concerned about SGMA because they have lots to lose. They are excellent business people and understand risk better than most of us. Like most sole proprietor business owners, farmers look at the business itself as a significant asset. One, they hope to pass on to family members at the right time or sell and use the money for their retirement. An uncertain water future for their properties means more risk and probably less value for their most valuable asset, the farm.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Is Good News

SGMA can be the catalyst for California to gain control of its water. Imagine in a few years, California could have accurate calculations on the amount of groundwater pumped for agricultural use. Growers across the State can collaboratively share water to provide more food using less water. Communities through GSAs can get together and take control of their water future.  New habitats for wildlife can be created, and finally, California can manage its most valuable asset because the data to manage water will eventually be available.

The technology to create this positive future exists today.  We need to embrace the technology manufacturers provide for water management. The amount of growers nationwide using technology to manage water is in the low single digits. There is field monitoring technology today that reduces water use, increases yields, and reduces labor. Jain Logic Pulse measures water use and can send water use data directly to a water agency eliminating many hours of labor to read meters and report water use.

Communicating The Message To Customers

It’s up to all of us to communicate a positive message about SGMA, and especially the dealers selling to growers have a unique opportunity to participate in this change.  Here are a few ideas dealers can use to promote and educate their customers and help them take control of their water future.

  • Grower Lunch and Learn Education – Growers have lots to lose and are looking for education concerning SGMA and how they can put themselves in the best position to secure future water. Dealers can partner with a manufacturer and provide clear, concise education to their customers about the technology that exists today to solve their water challenges. These are not expensive, and they are excellent for laying the foundation for further discussions.
  • Create A Page On Your Website Dedicated To SGMA – Be a SGMA resource for your customers. Report what is happening in the community concerning water and what steps your local GSA is taking. Provide information on community meetings and how customers can get more involved with the GSA. Make your website the one location your customers need to view to feel up to date on what is happening with water in their community. This page should support the ideas you presented at your lunch and learns. Customers will retain the big-picture ideas from your lunch and learns; this is the page they will need for the details about your concepts.
  • Use Facebook Ads To Get Them To Your Page – A couple of years ago, Farm Futures surveyed 1550 farmers in the U.S. and discovered Facebook is the social media king among farmers. In 2016 they estimated 40% of Farmers use Facebook. Twitter was second at 14%. In 2018 Successful Farming magazine also reported high use of Facebook for farmers. For most dealers, a budget between $600 – $1200 a month for Facebook ads should be adequate to own the market of growers in your region. The key will be a webpage that provides meaningful information. You need both for success.

You can welcome change or resist it and complain about it, but either way, change is going to happen. It’s up to all of us to determine how we are going to respond to the water changes in California. Hopefully, this is the right starting place for you. If you would like more information on SGMA and how technology provides solutions, you can attend the Irrigation Technologies as Solutions Presentation at the IA Show this Thursday in Las Vegas. I hope to see you there.

 

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