Pajaro River Irrigation Modernization
The Pajaro River Valley, spanning the Santa Cruz-Monterey County line, drains into Monterey Bay, which is home to hundreds of species of fish and birds in addition to sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters. The valley also boasts some of the most productive farmland in the nation. The Pajaro Valley and the surrounding region is largely dependent on groundwater for its farming and urban needs, however the area’s underlying aquifer is annually overdrawn by over three billion gallons.
The ongoing withdrawal of groundwater causes saltwater from nearby Monterey Bay to steadily seep inland, threatening farming production and communities who rely on groundwater for drinking. This project utilizes information technology to help farmers reduce their water use while maintaining agricultural production. The use of flow meters, data loggers, and field soil moisture sensors will help farmers apply irrigation water in accordance with crop needs allowing local farms to conserve water and reduce groundwater pumping by up to 20%. More efficient irrigation applications result in reductions in runoff that can carry fertilizer, which will also play an important part in protecting water quality in the Pajaro River and nearby Monterey Bay.
* Project supports agricultural water use efficiency to reduce the amount of water withdrawn from surface or groundwater sources.