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Open Access Publications from the University of California

California's agricultural regions gear up to actively manage groundwater use and protection


New regulations are emerging in response to historic groundwater depletion and widespread groundwater quality degradation in California. They aim at long-term preservation of groundwater resources for use in agriculture, in urban areas and for the support of ecosystems in streams dependent on groundwater. The regulations are driving a historic shift in the way the agriculture sector is engaged in managing and protecting groundwater resources in California. A review and synthesis of these recent regulatory developments — the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and new policies under the California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act — clarifies key challenges for farmers, scientists and regulators and points to the need for continuing innovation in agricultural practices as well as in planning and policy.

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