During the last five years, the water supply throughout the Western United States has been subject to an unprecedented level of scrutiny and change. For those responsible for managing water resources, these changes feel more severe than any issues of the previous 100 years. Variability in water supplies combined with decreasing groundwater levels have led to additional regulations that further complicate the task of providing a reliable, sustainable flow of water to users.
For 2020, California has required the production of groundwater management sustainability plans for medium and high priority basins to halt overdraft, as a result of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014. The SGMA is the first major statewide legislation to impact the fundamental approach to water supplies since 1914, when the Water Commission Act was approved to create a system of water rights for California.
The regulatory requirements stemming from the SGMA are forcing water managers to modify their water management and planning options. Unfortunately, the regulations have translated into a potential for loss of water of agricultural use. Land fallowing and ag retirement ideas have been floated as solutions, with estimates of taking up to 1,000,000 acres of agricultural land out of production in California alone.
In order to move forward, water managers are looking for innovative solutions to modernize facilities to maximize the performance of their irrigation systems. As districts and local, state and federal government agencies modernize, water users can subsequently modernize local infrastructure to improve performance at the farm-scale, increasing crop production while decreasing irrigation water use. The goal of increasing crop production with less water is needed to move towards a new era of sustainability.
Irrigation and water district managers, as well as government agencies, must consider transitioning from solely water supply management to both supply and demand management, integrating management, infrastructure and governance. To effectively sustain water use and management, while dealing with the complexity of water supply and demand issues, local entities will have to become increasingly involved in decision making, support and communication efforts.
This USCID Conference in Sacramento, California, will provide a unique forum for water district staff, water agency staff, irrigation and drainage specialists, consultants, and academics to share innovative solutions and learn from each other’s experiences. This Conference will bring together many water resources professionals with experience and interest in governance, policy, management, financing and technical issues related to sustainable basin management, including the difficult tasks seen in transitioning to supply and demand management. Conference Topics and Sub-Topics are listed on the following pages.
The Conference will provide a forum for water district staff, irrigation and drainage specialists, consultants, equipment suppliers and academics to share innovative solutions and learn from other’s experiences. Water resources professionals from around the world are also encouraged to attend.
A half-day study tour on Tuesday morning will be followed by lunch and a Plenary Session featuring presentations of broad interest to irrigation managers. Focused oral presentations during Technical Sessions and a Poster Session will occur on Wednesday and Thursday. Invited speakers will offer their perspectives during meals. The Conference will conclude with a Friday study tour. Receptions, meals, breaks and tours will provide excellent networking opportunities.