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Central Valley groundwater markets emerging under SGMA

 •  by Lois Henry
The Cross Valley Canal heading east toward the Sierra Nevada. Credit: Lois Henry

Central Valley farmers may soon have another crop to sell along with almonds, tomatoes and peppers — the groundwater beneath their land.

Proposed groundwater markets have popped up in just about every groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) filed with the state Jan. 31.

One such market is about to launch its first phase within the next a week in Kern County.

The proposed markets are being touted by some as a way to limit groundwater pumping while still allowing farmers the flexibility to optimize their resources.

Others are worried groundwater markets could devastate disadvantaged communities and small farmers who don’t have the resources to compete with giant farming companies such as Wonderful and Boswell.

“We’ve been looking at several GSPs and they show a significant draw down of groundwater levels without consideration for the impacts on drinking water wells,” said Debi Ores, a staff attorney for Community Water Center, a Visalia-based group that advocates for community solutions to drinking water issues.

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