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University of California
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In 2014, groundwater saved the day

The total statewide economic cost of the 2014 drought is $2.2 billion, reported UC Davis economists. “What would it have cost if we didn't have access to groundwater?” asked lead author Richard Howitt this week at the Agribusiness Management Conference in Fresno. Howitt is a faculty member affiliated with the Agricultural Experiment Station, which is part of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Howitt is professor and chair of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis.

He said groundwater is California farmers' insurance policy and urged the agriculture industry to take control of its management, reported Robert Rodriguez in the Fresno Bee. Howitt suggested farmers look at what Orange County does to manage its groundwater: Users pay for what they pump and if they use more than an allotted amount, they have to pay to replenish it.

The Orange County system is simple and equitable and can ensure continued, but measured, growth of permanent crops, Rodriguez reported.

Permanent crops, like almonds, give farmers less flexibility for dealing with low-water years.

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Posted on Friday, November 7, 2014 at 9:29 AM
Tags: drought (171), Richard Howitt (12)

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