Why is water harvesting critical for the California drought?

California’s Great Central Valley is 20,000 square miles, one of the most fertile valleys in the world, and one of the largest, if not the largest, agricultural region in the United States. Statistics about the crops grown here illustrate how critical water preservation methods are for this region. Producers in this area grow about 220 different crops including hay, grain, nuts, vegetables, and grapes for both winemaking and the table. The amount of land represents less than one percent of the total farmland in the United States. Despite that, the Central Valley outputs 8% of the nation’s agricultural product by dollar amount.

In short, the Central Valley is a massive agricultural production center with large water needs. More than 75% of irrigated lands within California are in the Central Valley, and about 20% of the water needs come from pumped aquifers, which means this is the second most-pumped aquifer system in the United States. Because so many Central Valley farmers face severe water shortages, the need to create rainwater collection systems, storage ponds, and irrigation systems is a big one.

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