California Water Meter Plan Still Under Construction

A California plan to encourage water conservation by installing water meters in individual farms is still under consideration, state lawmakers and environmental activists say.

As the largest state in the country and one of the United States’ largest agricultural producers, water policy in California is of vital interest to its citizens. In addition, California’s location in the increasingly arid Southwest makes water conservation critically important.

Over the last several years, Californians have fought over access to valuable water rights. In addition to struggling to find access to enough water to meet municipal and agricultural needs, Californians have been careful to avoid any major environmental changes that could critically damage the local ecosystem.

One successful way to encourage water conservation, lawmakers found, was to install water meters and charge residents based on their individual consumption. Officials say that metering has successfully reduced water consumption in urban areas. Lawmakers had hoped to expand these conservation efforts to the agricultural population. Under the far-reaching Water Conservation Act of 2009, the Department of Water Resources mandated that agricultural water suppliers use pricing structures similar to metered customer use.

While there are still some major kinks to work out of the system (currently there is debate over whether to install at the gate water meters, which would track individual consumption on individual farms, or rely on single meter system that could be placed upstream from several farms), the passing and interpretation of the law represents a major change for California agriculture.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer