STORIES IN THIS SERIES

WESTERN WATER

Farmers tap free-market ideas in bid to rescue aquifer

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. — A debate has raged for decades over the true price of water in the parched West.

Edgar Terry's answer: Let the market decide.

The farmer is on the cusp of launching the country's most robust groundwater trading market: cap and trade for water.

"We all deal in markets every day," Terry said during a recent tour of his vegetable fields. "What makes water any different than oil? If you have oil under your ground, you get to pump it and sell it. And it becomes an asset on the balance sheet. Why can't water become an asset?" CONTINUE READING >>>

WESTERN WATER

Thirsty vineyard, Big Ag test landmark aquifer law

CUYAMA VALLEY, Calif. — When Roberta Jaffe and her husband planted their small vineyard, one factor trumped all others: groundwater.

Knowing that this isolated valley in south-central California relies on a depleted aquifer, the couple "dry farmed" their Condor's Hope Ranch, using 5 percent or less of the water required by a conventional vineyard.

"For us, it is very much about farming in a way that is harmonious with the environment," Jaffe said. "This is what we see as what this environment can handle." CONTINUE READING >>>

ABOUT THIS SERIES

E&E News examines the West's mismanagement of groundwater, an unseen environmental disaster that threatens to send America's food system into meltdown.

JEREMY P. JACOBS covers Western water, weather and legal issues for Greenwire, where he has worked since February 2010. He has written about the Supreme Court, as well as a wide range of issues including the Clean Air Act, Superfund and chemical policy.

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