PPIC Warns of Increased Challenges From Drought

California’s drought will cause increasing pressure on the agricultural sector over the next year, resulting in more widespread challenges and greater restrictions, a new policy brief from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) warns.

The economic impacts of the drought in 2021 were “modest” statewide, but they hit the Sacramento and North Coast regions hard, notes PPIC. Surface water deliveries in the Sacramento Valley region were significantly reduced. The surface water shortages led to increased groundwater pumping. Production costs rose and some land went unplanted. Crop revenue losses in the Russian River amounted to 24%. All told, the drought’s economic impact has resulted in an estimated $1.7 billion in revenue losses and a loss of 14,600 jobs.

In the next year, these challenges will continue and expand in scope. One continued area of difficulty will be the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which seeks to prevent overpumping of groundwater, according to PPIC.

The institute has laid out a number of recommendations to help the state mitigate the challenges of the drought. These include a combination of local pumping restrictions and mitigation plans, reduced farm water use, water storage improvements, and new groundwater allocations which would cap how much a user can pump.

There are also efforts to mitigate the impact on agriculture in the Legislature. A bill introduced by State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) would create a $20-million fund to help farmworkers hit by the drought. Under Senate Bill 1066, eligible applicants would receive $1000 payments each month for a period of three years.


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