Drought Water Bank May Be State Option In 2015
State officials are looking at the possibility of establishing a drought water bank in 2015 as extreme drought conditions enter their fourth consecutive years.
Water officials from several state agencies appeared before the California State Board of Food and Agriculture November 4 to discuss how another dry year might impact groundwater, agriculture, food prices, and water system operations. The discussion was part of a briefing on plans for 2015.
HIGHER FOOD PRICES POSSIBLE
Increased food prices are possible as shortages of water and crop production mount, the board was told. Richard Howitt, a University of California, Davis resource economist, said food prices increased by 0.3% in 2014 and were kept from dropping more by the buffering effect of groundwater which in many areas helped growers mitigate losses of surface water. Food prices could go up by as much as 10%-15% in 2015 if major cutbacks in water deliveries continue and wells go dry, Howitt added. He said the state should establish a clearing house on water sales and availability.
Karla Nemeth, deputy secretary for water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency, outlined the food aid and rental assistance the state has deployed to laid off agricultural workers this year may have to be continued.
The state also is helping to lead a “guided discussion” about a potential drought water bank if it were needed, Nemeth added.