The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is expected to fallow up to one million acres of farmland in the valley, leading to annual crop revenue losses of $7 billion.
“We could sit and watch our infrastructure fail, or we could do something about it,” wrote water expert Thomas Esqueda and institute staff in the report.
The report’s proposals leverage state, federal and local dollars over a 30-year timeframe. This would cover the costs for repairing and building water infrastructure to replenish groundwater aquifers. The goal is to minimize the economic impacts as SGMA plans are implemented over the next 20 years.
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The report explores options like local sales and revenues taxes and surcharges on water users.
On that note: A feature-length documentary premieres this weekend that tackles water issues in the valley.
Through interviews with farmers, conservationists, scientists and local leaders, the documentary navigates the complex negotiations at play behind the voluntary agreements process. The Modesto Irrigation District partnered with a film studio on the project.