What’s water use efficiency to you? Is it buying a new “efficient” dishwasher or washing machine? Taking showers with a low flow shower head? Setting your sprinklers to run at times when your lawn will drink it verses evaporating in the hot air? Using water to get the job done and not wasting it, because once it goes down your drain at home or down the sidewalk into a street grate is it lost forever?
What is agricultural water efficiency? All we hear in the news is agricultural verses urban uses. Farmers, just like homeowners, use water to get the job done. Use too much and or too little, your crop suffers. It doesn’t pay to waste water no matter how you use it. Once it goes in the farmer’s drain is it lost forever? No it isn’t.
Water in agricultural serves multiple purposes. Recovered water travels down canals, creeks and drains and is used many times over. On its journey it provides a pool for spring run salmon in Butte Creek or in the winter a home to 600,000 ducks and 200,000 geese in just the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR) alone. For people too, over 73,000 visitors use the SNWR auto tours and walking trails to experience this exceptional mosaic of seasonal wetlands, semi-permanent and permanent wetlands, and uplands *. Likewise, pumped groundwater and surface water also migrate into shallow aquifers to be used another day.
This is what agricultural water use efficiency means to me.
Anjanette Shadley Martin
Special Projects Manager, Western Canal Water District