Integration Water for Food and the Environment

For the 2010-2039 time period, the total unmet agricultural demand decreases from 9.5% (Water for Environment) to 7.8%. Similarly, by 2070-2099, the total unmet agricultural demand decreases from 16.3% to 13.8%. This approximate 2% improvement can directly be attributed to the improved release at the Sacramento Stone Corral. In the Water for Environment strategy for 2010-2039, the unmet demand at the Sacramento Stone Corral is on average 6%. With groundwater banking, unmet demands are negligible. Furthermore, the inter-annual variability in unmet demands also declines from 5 24 X 106 m3 to 42 5 X 106 m3 (~20% reduction). Unmet demands for urban and environmental demands are unaffected as these are given higher priorities in the Water for Environment strategy. The one drawback to such a strategy is that the flows through the Yolo Bypass are reduced by almost 10% on an annual basis. A more sophisticated analysis would be required to determine the trade-offs of the gains from agricultural production and instream habitat versus wetland impacts in the Yolo Bypass.

Clearly, the use of groundwater banking can provide the Sacramento system with a win-win situation, as is illustrated by the example at Sacramento Stone Corral. Such a programme can be implemented in most agricultural areas in the Central Valley. By better managing groundwater aquifers, the overall supply of water available to the entire system can be increased, thus reducing unmet demands. Furthermore, on the environmental side, by banking groundwater the rapid declines in groundwater storage can be slowed (Fig. 11.11), making it easier to achieve groundwater sustainability goals.

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