A Framework for Strategic and Equitable Multibenefit Land Repurposing to Sustain Food-Energy-Water Systems and Address Water Injustice in the San Joaquin Valley, California
Global food security is a rapidly emerging concern with climate change and increasing population growth. This dissertation research assessed components critical to inform the strategic transition of irrigated agricultural lands to meet policy targets and sustain food-energy-water systems worldwide by focusing on the San Joaquin Valley, California. This region is not only a global leader in the agricultural sector but is an exemplary representation of regions facing water stress, population growth, and environmental injustice. It is also amidst its trials and tribulations regarding sustainable water policy and management. The newly implemented Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) establishes targets for groundwater utilization to address reduced surface water supply and groundwater overdraft. In the San Joaquin Valley, more than 10-15% of irrigated agricultural land is projected to go out of production within the next 10 to 20 years to sustain California’s water supplies (Hanak et al., 2017). However, a significant question addressed in this project is how we transition agricultural land to address groundwater overdraft and minimize socioeconomic and environmental impacts on disenfranchised and underserved communities and farmers. While this reduction in irrigated acreage will help lessen groundwater overdraft as per SGMA, the reduction will also result in socioeconomic and environmental impacts on disadvantaged communities and marginalized farmers that rely on agriculture for their livelihood. The dynamics between land use and the direct and indirect implications of agricultural land use transitions remain unknown. The components of this dissertation aim to minimize the impacts of agricultural land use transitions under SGMA to those most impacted and often left out of the water and land use decisions—underserved communities and farmers. This doctoral dissertation has the following objectives:1) Identify San Joaquin Valley community land use preferences. 2) Assess irrigation district overdependence on groundwater to identify where to focus agricultural land use transition efforts. 3) Identify which land use classification datasets are best to use to assess how and where to transition agricultural land and quantify the crop revenue, crop water requirement, and GHG emission discrepancies due to misclassifications.