published on August 15, 2016 - 10:36 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff
This year’s drought conditions have led to $603 million in economic losses on California farms, as well as 4,700 lost jobs, but UC Davis researchers note the conditions are less severe than years past.

The latest annual drought survey noted that winter and spring were wetter in Northern California, though conditions were largely drier than average in the Central Valley and Southern California.

The year saw water districts and contractors short about 2.6 million acre-feet of water for the 2016 irrigation season — roughly 14 percent less than a normal statewide surface water supply for crops.

This shortage is reduced with nearly 1.9 million acre-foot of additional groundwater pumping for a net water shortage of 0.7 million acre feet, or 2.6 percent of the estimated applied water in agriculture, according to the survey conducted by researchers Josué Medellín-Azuara, Duncan MacEwan, Richard E. Howitt, Daniel A. Sumner, and Jay R. Lund.

The shortage could lead to about 78,800 acres of land being idled due to drought — mostly on the west side of the San Joaquin water basin.

According to the study, net water shortages will cost about $247 million dollars in forgone gross crop revenues plus $303 million in additional pumping costs for a total of $550 million in direct costs and 1,815 jobs lost in agriculture due to drought. Region-wide effects which include sectors supporting agriculture face gross revenue losses and households lost income of an estimated $603 million and 4,700 jobs statewide.

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