ONE CREATIVE IDEA FOR CALIFORNIA'S DROUGHT PROBLEM
[caption id="attachment_3429" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Red and dark red account for worst areas of California drought[/caption]
As previously discussed, California is suffering through its worst drought in history, one that has lingered for several years. Almost the entirety of the state, over 37 million residents, is experiencing exceptional or extreme drought intensity.
Recent water regulations were put into place, but how strictly those are enforced remains to be seen. California has received less snowpack melt the past few years than ever before, something that provides a significant amount of freshwater supply during drier months. This has left California's residents scrambling to find answers.
During these trying times, the state's agriculture community has received an unfair amount of blame for an issue that has a great number of causes. This has not deterred them from becoming part of the solution. While one idea won't completely fix a seemingly irreversible problem, a collection of them could certainly help the situation.
For instance, one creative remedy would be to begin an "Airbnb for Water". For those unfamiliar, Airbnb is a service that allows travelers from around the world to rent out accommodations from a community marketplace full of users offering their extra space. This same idea would be applied to the California drought crisis.
SWIIM (Sustainable Water & Innovative Irrigation Management) is a startup that is working with the Western Growers Association in launching efforts to assist particularly bad areas of the state by allowing farmers who have more water than needed during growing seasons to allocate their excess to other farmers in need by leasing it to them. The system is complex, but water is a powerful asset and conserving a great deal of it through the marketplace is a smart strategy.
Andy Sawyer of the California State Water Resources Control Board:
“The theory is if you have a willing buyer and a willing seller and they’re willing to transfer, it’s probably because the buyer is getting greater economic use out of it than the seller.”
SWIIM currently operates in Colorado, but is working closely with California and Arizona in the coming years to significantly influence the region's water conservation. SWIIM CEO Kevin France
"This is going to be part of the solution to our water crisis."
California and its citizens rely on a strong agriculture industry that contributes on a global level. Any solution to California’s drought crisis cannot ask farmers and ranchers to weaken their existing economic impact. Hopefully, water leasing will be one of many steps in the right direction.