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New Agricultural Groundwater Exchange On South Coast Intended To Improve Conservation


The drought has led to the creation of a unique type of water exchange on the South Coast which may ultimately encourage conservation,

It’s a water market, which will allow farmers, and potentially other water users in parts of Ventura County to buy and sell groundwater.

In California, the law has required farmers to use their water allocation, or lose it, so this new pilot program could provide an important new reason for conservation, and to make money on their resource.

Matthew Fineup is Executive Director of California Lutheran University’s Center for Economic Research and Forecasting, which is managing the water market. Fineup says they’ve been talking about the idea for three years, and working on it in earnest for about the last 18 months.

A farmer who helped develop the pilot program says by turning the water into even more of an asset also encourages conservation. Edgar Terry is the President of Ventura County based Terry Farms. He says it took time to develop the program’s guidelines, and get farmers on board with the pilot project.

Fineup says the approach is unique in California, and is patterned after a program in Australia. Fineup says CERF will manage the pilot program under the umbrella of the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency, which ultimately has responsibility to insure the groundwater basin it oversees in part Ventura County is managed wisely.

The pilot program received an important boost this month, with word that because of The Nature Conservancy the unique effort is getting a $1.9 million dollar federal grant to help fund the effort. Even though the pilot project is just getting underway, it’s is already attracting attention from around the state.

Organizers are hoping it can serve as a model for more efficiently managing other groundwater basins around California, and throughout the country. 

CLU, which is the parent of CERF, is also the licensee of KCLU Radio

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