California farmers are flooding their fields, and this is not the first time. Don Cameron purposefully flooded his central California farm in 2011. While his colleagues and farmers believed he was insane, Cameron is now regarded as a pioneer in the eyes of water specialists. Everyone around him assumed that flooding the area would damage the crop, but it turned out that they were wrong. In order to recharge the groundwater, he piped extra stormwater over his land.
Cameron is the vice president and general manager of the 6,000-acre Terra Nova Ranch. In the San Joaquin Valley, the core of California’s $50 billion agricultural economy, his fields yield wine grapes, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, olives, and other commodities. His initiative has piqued the interest of officials, who are pressing others to follow the same path. If more farmers flood their fields instead of diverting precipitation into flood channels, the surplus water may seep underground and be saved for when drought conditions return.
Image Credit: Oticki <istock>
How Is It Beneficial?
According to experts, the most economical method to control floods is to imitate nature by letting water flow across the terrain. This aids in conserving water for dry days. This technique of flooding the field is not only for personal gain. It safeguards everyone’s water table, regardless of the field’s boundaries.
California has a bittersweet relationship with water, whether in the form of a drought or a flood. Due to decades of unchecked pumping, California suffers from chronic groundwater overdraft. For example, the San Joaquin Valley’s water bodies, which contribute to more than half of the state’s food output, lose 587 gallons of water per year These kinds of circumstances resulted in dry irrigation wells and drinking water sources. It also reduces the ecosystem’s ability to withstand future droughts.
This method simulates California’s ancient water cycle, in which snowfall and rain flowed down from the mountains and over the floodplains to recharge the aquifers, but in a controlled manner, with excess water transferred to appropriate cropland for groundwater penetration. This integrated water management method is critical for minimizing flood risks in downstream areas, recharging groundwater, and enhancing ecological conditions.
Sustainable Conservation is pioneering an innovative plan that mixes flood control with groundwater management to absorb high flows from storms and store them underground in collaboration with farmers, water districts, industrial organizations, researchers, NGOs, and government agencies.