The San Joaquin Valley’s water supply availability is the single most important resource to the Valley’s economic survival, according to the San Joaquin Valley Water System Investment Program report recently published by the California Water Institute.

Aging infrastructure, climate conditions, threatened endangered species, and groundwater overdraft conditions are putting this vital water supply at risk — affecting safe drinking water and creating difficult agricultural conditions. Sources quoted in the report estimate that nearly 1 million acres of the Valley’s productive cropland will be fallowed or abandoned over the next 20 to 30 years due to the need to stabilize the groundwater table.

“The Valley’s economy is dependent on this water supply to support agriculture, which provides employment, tax revenues, growth and innovation,” said the California Water Institute’s Programs Manager Laura Ramos. “The California Water Institute has developed the San Joaquin Valley Water System Investment Program report — a comprehensive plan backed by research — to address our water issues.”

The report presents a strategic 10-year $7 to $9 billion water infrastructure and investment plan to help mitigate economic loss, and outlines methods for funding through federal and state contributions, local sales tax and water user fees.

“This is a critical time for the San Joaquin Valley and in California water history. It is important that we all work together to develop a shared-vision for the Valley,” said Ramos. “This needs to be a regional and collaborative effort. This report provides a background and some ideas on how that can happen.”

Next steps for the Water Investment Program include creating an inclusive shared vision with consideration of all water interests, followed by the development of a capital plan and the formation of a governing body.

“It is important that all stakeholders join this critical conversation. We encourage you to read this new CWI report and invite you to be part of upcoming engagement activities,” said California Water Institute’s Interim Director Cordie Qualle.

The California Water Institute is housed in the Lyles College of Engineering at Fresno State.

INFO: Laura Ramos, or 559.278.7001.