Monterey County Farm Bureau

Ag Water Conservation

Monterey County farmers and ranchers have been conserving our water resources for over two decades

Groundwater extraction (for irrigation) for the Salinas River Groundwater Basin shows:

  • 1996 extractions were 563,438 acre feet
  • 2015 extractions were 478,113 acre feet
  • Reduction of groundwater extractions of 15% over 19 years

Gross value of Salinas Valley agricultural production over the same time period:

  • 1996 gross value was $2,844,548,000
  • 2016 gross value was $4,256,072,000
  • Increase in gross value of 49.5% over 20 years

Over the past five years (including drought years), groundwater extractions for irrigation averaged 454,375 acre feet / year.

Irrigation methods have also changed dramatically in the last 20 years, as evidenced by shifts in water delivery methods:

  • In 1993, drip irrigation was used on 26,080 acres ... in 2015, drip irrigation was used on 132,086 acres
  • in 1993, sprinkler and furrow irrigation was used on 89,662 acres ... in 2015, sprinkler and furrow irrigation was reduced to use on 14,457 acres
  • In 1993, sprinkler irrigation was used on 54,744 acres ... in 2015, sprinkler irrigation was reduced to use on 23,181 acres

Drip irrigation is approximately twice as efficient as furrow irrigation (range of efficiency depends on the crop). 12,000 acres of grapes were added in the past 20 years utilizing drip irrigation; strawberries are exclusively irrigated using drip irrigation.

Crops grown in Monterey County require specific amounts of water to maintain adequate yields and quality uniformity.  Over the past 20 years, addoption of water saving techniques, such as drip irrigation, have allowed yields to increase while actual water use has decreased.

Source: MCWRA Groundwater Extraction Summary Reports (view the report for 2018 here)

Monterey County's Agrcultural Commissioner has developed a report on water conservation efforts here in the Salinas Valley area, which covers irrigation demand, salt water intrusion, groundwater levels, recycled wastewater, drip irrigation, soil moisture sensors, and other topics in depth.

View the report on the Ag Commissioner's website here.