Jeff Mount lecture: Consequences for Groundwater Sustainability in California

SSB 170, UC Merced Campus
Wednesday, April 4, 2018 -
12:30pm to 1:45pm
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Join us on the University of California, Merced campus for the Groundwater Resources Association 2018 David Keith Todd Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. Jeff Mount. 

Jeff Mount in kayakDr. Jeffrey Mount
Senior Fellow, Public Policy Institute of California
Groundwater Resources Association 2018 David Keith Todd Distinguished Lecturer

Public Lecture: Consequences of Groundwater Sustainability in California

April 4, 2018
SSB 170
UC Merced Campus

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Dr. Jeffrey Mount is a Senior Fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center. His work at the Public Policy Institute of California focuses on bringing together multidisciplinary teams of researchers to develop novel solutions to water problems, particularly in California.   He is the Founding Director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.  During his long career Dr. Mount has published widely on the science and management of rivers, including his award-winning book, California Rivers and Streams (UC Press).  He is co-author of the recent synthesis Managing California’s Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation (PPIC).

Consequences of Groundwater Sustainability in California

In 2014 California enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to address impacts associated groundwater pumping.  This act mandates that areas that depend upon groundwater achieve sustainability by 2040.  To meet the requirements of this act there will need to be a net reduction in groundwater overdraft of more than 2 million acre-feet per year.  The social, economic and environmental consequences—intended or otherwise—of this change in water policy are vast.  Opportunities to augment supplies are limited, although new storage, conveyance and groundwater recharge will help.  In areas connected to the state’s water supply systems—particularly the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project--there will be increased pressure to transfer water.  This will impact on-going efforts to address water supply reliability and ecosystem issues in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  However, sustainability will be achieved principally though reductions in demand. In the San Joaquin Valley—the region accounting for most overdraft—this will involve permanent or temporary fallowing of hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland, with consequences for the farm economy in the valley and rural communities dependent upon farm labor.  There will also be wide ranging environmental consequences.  How land is fallowed, including the quality of soils, will affect air quality, water quality and terrestrial habitat.  Demand reduction will also increase conflicts over the use of surface water to support aquatic habitat and wetlands as well as groundwater-dependent ecosystems.  California needs to take a comprehensive look at what it is going to take to achieve groundwater sustainability and develop pathways that minimize or mitigate unwanted effects.

Presented by UC Water, Sierra Nevada Research Institute, the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute, and the Environmental Systems Seminar at UC Merced.

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