In California, water is a case study in extremes, exacerbated by a fast changing climate. Periods of epic drought followed by torrential precipitation are the new normal, making it harder to manage water supplies and protect the state’s ecosystems, communities, farms, businesses and infrastructure.
From 2011-2017, California experienced the worst drought recorded in the past 1,000 years, with over 90% of the state experiencing severe conditions during the height of the drought, and costs to the agriculture industry totalling $3.8 billion in 2014-2016 alone. At the height of the drought, California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which requires farms and communities to bring their overdrafted groundwater basins into balance by 2040 or 2042. Research suggests that California may need to fallow over 500,000 acres of irrigated farmland to comply with SGMA. California’s $50 billion a year agricultural industry will continue to strain freshwater resources without prudent water management measures.
Companies and investors have a unique opportunity to respond to water risks in their California operations and supply chains, advocate for sustainable and resilient water policies, engage with SGMA implementation efforts and ensure sustainable management of the Golden State’s stressed and unpredictable water supplies.
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