Ag webinar explores water crisis in the Central Valley

Nico Watson, Reporter

Bakersfield College hosted the first of a series of webinars on water policy in the Central Valley on Sept. 13 as part of their partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Valley Strong Credit Union. 

It featured three speakers representing different organizations and institutions that have partnered with the Valley Strong Energy Institute, all of whom touched on different aspects of the ongoing water crisis that is gripping the Central Valley. 

Alivar Escriva-Bou, a senior fellow from the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center, explained the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of the recent Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA. 

He was then followed by Thomas Ott, an assistant research hydrologist with the Desert Research Institute, who has been working on openET, a public database for water management data funded and worked in part by organizations such as NASA, the Department of Agriculture, the Desert Research Institute, and Google, among many others. 

Following this, Josué Medellín-Azuara, an associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of California Merced, gave a general rundown of the severity of the ongoing severe drought in the Central Valley, with specifics on the data behind the severity of the water crisis. 

The webinar concluded with a Q&A session, where members of the public were able to ask the panelists questions regarding the things they discussed or just general questions regarding water conservation and management in California. 

The key takeaway from the webinar as a whole was that, while the situation is certainly dire, there is still action that can be taken, along with the new tools that are emerging through continued dedicated research, that will allow the Central Valley to mitigate and manage this crisis. While the webinar’s topic was one of crisis, the main theme was one of hope – something that all three guest speakers wanted to drive home.