Ag Water Conservation

Ag Water Conservation

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

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

  • 1996 extractions were 563,438 acre feet
  • 2021 extractions were 445,705 acre feet
  • Reduction of groundwater extractions of 20% over 25 years

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

  • 1996 gross value was $2,844,548,000
  • 2021 gross value was $4,100,240,000
  • Increase in gross value of 44% over 25 years


Over the years from 1995 – 2020 (including drought years),

groundwater extractions for irrigation averaged 450,850 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 2020, drip irrigation was used on 137,000 acres
  • in 1993, sprinkler and furrow irrigation was used on 89,662 acres … in 2020, sprinkler and furrow irrigation was reduced to use on 11,000 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 2020 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.