A coalition of local governments, agricultural water users and academics known as the Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley has released a long-awaited report revealing the profound economic impacts likely to come as a result of implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
The report finds that up to one million acres will be fallowed over the next 20 years as basins come into compliance. That is one-fifth of all acres under cultivation in the San Joaquin Valley. The result will be $7.2 billion lost in farm revenue every year. Direct jobs losses would be about 42,000. Indirectly, it may be double, with losses to salaries and wages adding up to as much as $2 billion every year.
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“I have been at this a long time and the findings of this report are significant,” said UC Berkeley Economist David Sunding, lead author on the report. “Notably, the economic impacts are highly regressive and appear to have the greatest effect in disadvantaged communities.”
While the most critical findings have already been released through congressional testimony, the full report provides a deeper analysis. A follow-up report later this year will also identify reforms and infrastructure investments to help mitigate the impacts.
“Reaching collaborative solutions will not be easy, but we are committed to trying to do so,” said Water Blueprint Executive Director Austin Ewell. “This effort will likely require significant action, such as strategic multi-beneficial land conversion. We encourage all stakeholders to join the discussion.”