Agricultural Water Use Efficiency
California is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, and is the major producer of many nuts, fruits, and vegetables. In fact, California is the only producer of 13 commodities and is a top producer of more than 74 different commodities in the U.S. The state exports a huge quantity of agricultural products, bringing more than $20 billion into California’s economy.
California’s agricultural success would not be possible without irrigation. In an average year, approximately 9.6 million acres are irrigated with roughly 34 million acre-feet of water; an amount that would cover 31 million football fields with 1 foot of water. Most of this irrigation water is used very efficiently.
What do we mean by “used efficiently?” This means that water that isn’t used on one farm is used on another, so that the same amount of water can be used to produce more crops. Also, this water can be used to help recharge groundwater.
Yet, considering that agriculture accounts for approximately 80 percent of all the water used in California, even small improvements in agricultural water use efficiency can be significant.We work with the agricultural community and other stakeholders to find solutions for improving agricultural water-use efficiency and to meet State agricultural water management and measurement requirements.
The Water Conservation Act of 2009 (SB X7-7) requires agricultural water suppliers serving more than 25,000 irrigated acres (excluding recycled water deliveries) to adopt and submit to DWR an Agricultural Water Management Plan (AWMP). These plans must include reports on the implementation status of specific Efficient Water Management Practices (EWMPs) that were required under SB X7-7.
Agricultural water suppliers can submit individual plans or collaborate and submit regional plans, as long as the plans meet the requirements of SB X7-7. Agricultural water suppliers that provide water to between 10,000 and up to 25,000 irrigated acres (excluding recycled water) are not required to prepare or submit AWMPs under SB X7-7, unless state funds are made available to support this.
New AWMP Content Requirements of AB 1668 (Friedman, Statute of 2018):
- Annual water budget for the water-year based on quantifying all inflow and outflow components for the service area, including six specific components.
- Identifying water management objectives based on the water budget to improve system efficiency or to meet other water management objectives.
- Quantifying water use efficiency using the appropriate methods from DWR’s 2012 Report to the Legislature, “A Proposed Methodology for Quantifying the Efficiency of Agricultural Water Use.” All water uses must be accounted for including: crop water use, agronomic use, environmental use, and recoverable surface flows.
- A Drought Plan for periods of limited water supplies describing actions for drought preparedness (resilience planning), as well as management and allocations of water supply during drought conditions (response planning).
AWMP must be adopted by April 1, 2021 and submitted electronically to DWR within 30 days of adoption.
Who is required to submit?
- All large agricultural water suppliers providing water to more than 25,000 irrigated acres (excluding recycled water) (SB X7-7).
When are they due?
- AWMPs for large agricultural water suppliers must be completed and adopted by April 1, 2021 and every five years thereafter, and submitted electronically to DWR no later than 30 days after adoption.
Efficient Water Management Practices (EWMPs) Nexus
- All suppliers that are required to prepare and submit and AWMP must report on the status of EWMP implementation.
- All of the large agricultural water suppliers (more than 25,000 irrigated acres) have to implement certain EWMPs listed in SB X7-7.
- All of these suppliers must implement these two EWMPs:
- Water measurement at the delivery point with a certain level of accuracy
- Volumetric pricing
- The other EWMPs are required where they are technically feasible and locally cost-effective.
- Mid-sized suppliers are not required to implement the EWMPs unless funding is made available to them specifically for this purpose.
DWR is updating the AWMP Guidebook for preparing 2020 AWMPs to be available by early 2020 (AWMPs are due April 1, 2021).
Summary of 2015 Agricultural Water Management Plans Submitted
In 2015, an estimated 54 agricultural water suppliers met the 25,000-acre threshold representing approximately 4,074,400 irrigated acres. The number of water suppliers who supply to more than 25,000 acres and who were required to submit an AWMP:
- Submitted AWMP – 47
- Notified DWR an AWMP is in progress – 0
- Not submitted AWMP – 7
In 2016, there were an estimated 39 agricultural water suppliers in the 10,000 to 25,000 irrigated acres category, represented approximately 594,600 irrigated acres. The number of water suppliers who supply to 10,000 - 25,000 acres and who were required to submit a 2015 AWMP by July 1, 2016:
- Submitted AWMP – 26
- Notified DWR an AWMP is in progress – 5
- Not submitted AWMP – 8
Summary of 2012 Agricultural Water Management Plans Submitted
An estimated 54 agricultural water suppliers met the 25,000-acre minimum threshold and are required by SB X7-7 to submit water management plans. Below is the status of the 2012 Agricultural Water Management Plan review as of August 10, 2015, including a link to a list and the submittal status for each individual agency.
- AWMP not submitted – 6.
- AWMP submitted and requirements addressed – 44.
- AWMP in progress, awaiting review, or under review – 4.
- Water suppliers who voluntarily submitted AWMP, but are not required to report – 21.
New requirements for farm-gate agricultural water delivery reporting take effect in 2019:
Agricultural water suppliers now submit reports online.
Groundwater basins and sub-basins must now report, a direction from 2018 water conservation legislation (AB 1668) (Section 531.10 of the Water Code)*
The revised Aggregated Farm-gate Delivery Form is due by April 1 of this year (2019), and by April 1, annually thereafter.
Who Must File?
Agricultural water suppliers who deliver 2,000 or more acre-feet of water or supply to 2,000 or more irrigated acres.
What Must Be Filed?
The agricultural water suppliers who fit the above requirements must submit an annual report on the total aggregated amount of surface water they delivered to their agricultural customers.
How To File:
Farm-gate reports must now be submitted electronically.
Use the Aggregated Farm-Gate Delivery Report below.
SB X7-7 (2009) requires large water suppliers of more than 25,000 irrigated acres (excluding recycled water) to implement a water measurement program that complies with the Agricultural Water Measurement Regulation adopted by DWR in July 2012 (Title 23, California Code of Regulation, sections 597 to 597.4). See Agricultural Water Measurement for details.
The Farm-Gate Form to Use:
Use the Agricultural Aggregated Farm-Gate Delivery Report Form: Farm-Gate Report Form
The form includes four sections:
- Section 1: To report basic information about the water supplier.
- Section 2: To report the water supplier representative’s contact information.
- Section 3: To report monthly or bimonthly aggregated farm-gate deliveries by groundwater basin or sub-basin number.
- Section 4: To identify and explain the best professional practices used.
Submit reports via email to: agWUE@water.ca.gov
After March 1, 2019, DWR's online submittal portal will be available at https://wuedata.water.ca.gov/secure/login_auth.asp?msg=inactivity&referer=%2Fsecure%2FDefault%2Easp.
DWR has scheduled a webinar to demonstrate the use of the online submittal tool. See the webinar event page for more information.
For questions, contact:
* The revised form was approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on January 15, 2019.
Groundwater basin or sub-basins are identified and defined in Bulletin 118 in 10721 (b) of the Water Code. See DWR’s groundwater mapping tool: https://gis.water.ca.gov/app/gicima/
DWR’s groundwater publication webpage: https://water.ca.gov/Programs/Groundwater-Management/Bulletin-118
DWR was required to adopt regulations that provide for a range of options that agricultural water suppliers may use or implement to comply with agricultural water volume measurement requirements in SB X7-7 (Part 2.55, Chapter 4, §10608.48(i)) (1)).
This started with an emergency regulation, but has completed the rule-making process and is now a permanent regulation effective July 11, 2012. Please contact us for public hearings and the public process documents.
Who must implement?
Agricultural water suppliers providing water to more than 25,000 irrigated acres (excluding recycled water) (large water suppliers) by July 31, 2012 (§10608.48 (a))
Agricultural water suppliers providing water to more than 10,000 to 25,000 irrigated acres (excluding recycled water) for whom state funding has been provided for that purpose (mid-sized water suppliers)
The Water Measurement Regulations provide for a range of options that agricultural water suppliers may use.
The Final Regulation is available for viewing.
Publications & Reports
- 2015 Agricultural Water Management Plan Submittal Status Summary
- A Proposed Methodology for Quantifying the Efficiency of Agricultural Water Use
- Final 2015 Agricultural Water Management Plan Guidebook
- Historic Agricultural Drought Tips for Growers
- Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life Implementing Executive Order B-37-16 FINAL REPORT April 2017
- New Agricultural Drought Tips for Growers
- Report to the Legislature: 2012 Ag Water Management Plans and Implementation of Efficient Water Management Practices Review Report
- Farm Gate Delivery Submittal Data - 2014 to present
- California Department of Food and Agriculture
- California Institute for Water Resources
- Center for Irrigation Technology
- Irrigation Training and Research Center
- University of California Drought Management Crop Irrigation Strategies
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service