LandFlex: Protection of Vulnerable Drinking Water Wells and Groundwater Sustainably
SACRAMENTO, CA – The Department of Water Resources (Department) has released draft guidelines and opened public comment period for a new agricultural drought response program, LandFlex. This solutions-based program will assist drought-stricken communities in helping to solve the groundwater crisis by protecting drinking water wells through preventative fallowing for a period of 1-year and permanent retirement of groundwater overdraft on enrolled acres, relieving pressures on groundwater demand and providing water supply certainty to critically over drafted basins.
DWR, will implement this program in partnership with awarded Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) who will work with selected farmers to implement LandFlex on the ground. Also, in partnership with DWR, Western United Dairies Foundation, the Almond Alliance, Self-Help Enterprises and California Alliance with Family Farmers will work as Technical Assistance Providers (TAPs) to assist GSAs with outreach and engagement to all farmers, including socially disadvantaged farmers, and underrepresented communities.
“All involved share a common interest in the immediate ending of groundwater overdraft on lands near vulnerable drinking water wells,” said Anja Raudabaugh, Chief Executive Officer of Western United Dairies. “The LandFlex program provides farmers the flexibility to manage their land through the drought and to provide water security for rural communities.”
LandFlex aims to reduce groundwater demand by incentivizing farmers to temporarily fallow ground in areas dependent on groundwater for domestic drinking water supplies. Grant funding will be prioritized based on the enrolled lands’ proximity: 1.) to drinking water wells that have recently gone dry or are close to going dry and 2.) in proximity to underrepresented communities.
“LandFlex provides operational flexibility during the fallowing and drought crisis to conserve and leave water in the ground to stabilize aquifers while supporting our vulnerable communities and ensuring a secure food supply for next year,” said Aubrey Bettencourt, Chief Executive Officer of the Almond Alliance.
“Innovative solutions and partnerships with the agriculture community are crucial to creating sustainable water supply for our hotter and drier futures,” says Karla Nemeth Director of the Department of Water Resources. Thank you to the Technical Assistance Partners for helping to launch this important program with DWR.