In response to climate change and relentless droughts and heatwaves, scientists and farmers in California’s Central Valley are working with local communities to put innovative water-saving systems in place. Together, they have found ways to use and re-use water as sustainably as possible.
The whole conservation process relies on a series of infrastructure changes designed to optimize water use every step of the way, starting at the reservoir situated a few miles downstream of all major rivers and streams in the state.
The reservoir serves as a hydroelectric power station point, which uses the speed of the free-falling water to power turbines that generate electricity for the local region.
Once the water has turned the turbines, it flows down to farmers who use water-saving irrigation techniques with the help of local institutions like Fresno State Center for Irrigation Technology. Charles Hillyer, the director of the Center, says that their role in minimizing water use is to “do field testing and technology,” which studies water use as it relates to agriculture and conservation.
Hillyer explains that learning how to implement a water-saving irrigation system is important “to everybody who eats in California,” because irrigation is now a must-have for all farms in California due to the droughts.
There is a great need for Central Valley farmers to adapt to the reality of climate change, but Hillyer is optimistic about the future of sustainable water use. He hopes that the collaboration between Fresno State Center for Irrigation Technology, local farmers, and scientists will prove beneficial not only for this area but for agricultural productivity in all water scare regions.