Historic Drought Grips Marin County Agriculture
July 15, 2022
The American West is currently experiencing the driest period in at least 1,200 years and climate change is largely responsible. In the last three years, most Northern California cities have received only half to two thirds of their historical average, which is the equivalent of losing an entire year of rainfall. And each passing year without significant rain is having a big impact on Marin County agriculture.
In the latest county crop report, the total gross value of agricultural crops and commodities produced dropped by 5% (from $101.8 to $96.6 million) due to reduced yield as a result of a lack of water. As ponds and wells continue to run dry, many farmers and ranchers resort to hauling water for their operations, a particularly expensive endeavor this year, as the price of fuel continues to rise. Combined with supply chain shortages, the rising cost of hay and labor shortages, it is an incredibly difficult time to be producing food and fiber here in Marin County and across much of the western United States.
Watch the video above for my brief explanation of our Drought Resilience and Water Security (DRAWS) initiative and the impact of this historic drought.
In response to the deepening drought conditions, we launched our Drought Resilience and Water Security (DRAWS) initiative in the spring of 2021. Through this initiative, all farmers and ranchers in Marin County are eligible for grants up to $15,000 to design and implement long-term water infrastructure projects. It is the support needed to install new water catchment and storage systems, revive old springs and better leverage the existing water resources on their properties.
As forecasters begin calling for another dry winter for 2022/2023 we are working to double down our efforts to build water resilience in the agricultural working lands of our community. In April 2022, the MALT Board approved an additional $250,000 allocation in funding to have even more impact, bringing the total to $750,000 in funding for DRAWS since spring 2021. These timely investments are essential — not just for our local agricultural producers — but for the entire region’s public health, environmental wellbeing, and economic vitality.
DRAWS Impact to Date
- 13 fresh water springs re-developed
- 46 water storage tanks installed, totaling 169,300 gallons stored
- 20 water pumps connected, many of which are solar powered, and
- 61,350 feet of irrigation piping installed (over 11.5 miles!)
These investments in our regional drought resilience and water security benefit all residents in Marin County and the greater Bay Area. This work is about ensuring our ability to produce healthy food and sustainable fiber for our communities. Step by step we are helping local farms and ranches maintain their ability to put food on the table.
Your support helps MALT safeguard critically important landscapes key to the resilience of our local communities.