The following is a statement by Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, in response to the newly released study "Agricultural Water Use in California, A 2011 Update" by The Center for Irrigation Technology at CSU Fresno:
"Nearly 30 years after a University of California, Cooperative Extension study concluded that farmers are not wasting water, a new study arrived at similar conclusions. A major finding of the current study contradicts a popular claim that increased conservation on the farm could result in millions of acre-feet of water available for other uses.
"The 1982 report has been updated by researchers at The Center for Irrigation Technology at California State University, Fresno. The updated study was released supporting many of the same conclusions.
"The new study shows that only 1.3 percent of existing supplies, or about 330,000 acre-feet of water could be conserved on farms if farmers changed their irrigation practices or shifted to different crops.
"Changes in irrigation practices and crop patterns also have the potential to cause negative impacts. Changing from furrow to drip irrigation can mean less water to replenish aquifers, which many rural communities rely on for domestic water supplies.
"The new study also shows that farmers have been making excellent decisions on how to manage the water they use to efficiently grow food and fiber, create jobs and significantly contribute to California's economy."