A space-age tool aims to bring water use down to Earth

 •  by Jesse Vad, SJV Water reporting intern
OpenET, an online data platform that uses satellite imagery to calculate water use, shows how much water a parcel of citrus used over a year. The parcel is the yellow box outlined in black in the upper left portion of the photo. COURTESY: OpenET

New satellite technology could be a critical piece to the future of water trading in the San Joaquin Valley, according to those working on the tech. OpenET, an online platform that uses satellite imagery to estimate how much water is used by different crops, launched publicly on October 21.

The platform is already being tested in the San Joaquin Valley. And in January, the state will allow landowners in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to use OpenET data instead of metering their water usage.

“In California we still have a long ways to go in many places to enable water trading programs,” said Christina Babbitt, director of climate resilient water systems for nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund. “One of the biggest needs is having consistent data that can be used to inform management actions across these very local boundaries if we want to enable things like water trading.”

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Jesse Vad, SJV Water reporting intern
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