From Storage to Retention: Expanding California’s Options for Meeting its Water Needs

Published: November 2012

Authors: Juliet Christian-Smith and the California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply

Pages: 20



California’s ability to grow its wealth of specialty crops depends on retaining and storing water from the state’s wet season for use during the long, dry summer season. This report argues for an expansion of approaches to storing water that increase supply reliability for specialty crop agricultural production and other beneficial uses while protecting ecosystem health. The authors call for management approaches that support a broad range of options, including ecologically sound large-scale reservoirs, a patchwork of on-farm ponds, expanded soil capacity to retain water, and improvements in groundwater recharge.

The report highlights a conceptual shift in water management that it argues is a necessary underpinning of effective water storage, and recommends a set of priority actions that constitute high-leverage opportunities to improve California’s water storage capacity and management. The report was produced by the California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply (CRWFS), with contributions from Juliette Christian-Smith of the Pacific Institute, a CRWFS member.