VENTURA, Calif. - Ventura County is starting an effort to reduce the irrigation needed in local fields. The Advanced Metering Infrastructure and Water Market pilot program is the first program of its kind in the State to monitor water this way.
As farmers up and down the coast gear up for the summer season, many are still concerned with the drought.
“This is a major threat to us,” said William Terry, Vice President of Terry Farms in Oxnard. “We farm nothing without water.”
Terry spoke with NewsChannel 3 last year when his farm was part of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure and Water Market pilot program. He says this is a step in the right direction.
“Oh absolutely. A lot of people recognize the value in it and we are just on the front end of it which is really exciting,” said Terry.
A year later Ventura County is launching the program, which is California’s first water monitoring program.
“One of the first wells went in yesterday,” said Jeff Pratt, the director of Public Works of Ventura County. “Advance Metering is something that has not been on agricultural wells in the past. We have about 700 or 800 wells to do over an area of something approaching 3,000 square miles.”
The county will install hardware on agricultural wells like you see here. Pratt says the device will help farmers in a number of ways.
“It gives them real accurate reporting of their usage and it’s real-time reporting too which they can see,” said Pratt. “It also allows them to expand the system so they can do all sorts of soil chemistry.”
This idea was created after the states continuous drought issues, which harmed many farmers crops.
“We expect this to create some conservation and more advanced irrigation practices which will conserve water,” said Pratt. “It will also allow us to create a water market. In it’s simplest terms you can think of the groundwater management agency as a big bathtub of water that has a bunch of straws in it so the water market would allow one straw to suck more than another straw.”
The water market allows farmers to sell, or buy unused groundwater allegations from other farmers.
“Now the question if they are going to participate in the water market is going to be purely voluntary,” said Pratt. “So it is a voluntary market and we don’t know what those numbers will be, but there has been a lot of interest.”