Water policy barriers to groundwater data deployment

Mammoth Trading, in partnership with the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, the Environmental Defense Fund, and Smart Water Metering is honored to be a finalist in the 2017 California Water Policy Challenge, an Imagine H2O initiative that solicits fresh policy ideas that enable the deployment of innovative water and groundwater data technologies.

Data is essential to help California’s farmers, businesses, and communities better manage water resources. Effective solutions exist, but policy barriers often prevent broad adoption in municipal, agricultural and industrial markets. A supportive policy environment is vital to foster a market for water innovation.

Here’s the policy challenge we see.

Misconceptions around groundwater data

Groundwater has been critical to sustaining agricultural productivity in California during extended drought and many users are concerned that the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) will weaken their water security. Whereas experience worldwide has shown that good governance requires stakeholder acceptance and willing participation, SGMA’s emergent regulatory context has strong disincentives to collect and report data, which is viewed narrowly as a means to restrict pumping.

The water policy challenge is to overcome misconceptions about the potential private and social values of data for management and to demonstrate that there are opportunities both to increase water security and to monetize good management practices while reaching SGMA’s goals. Our plan includes:

  • Identifying shared pain points and developing value propositions for groundwater data collection and use;
  • Building understanding around proposed groundwater markets and risk management;
  • Identifying early adopters;
  • Developing pilot projects to test groundwater data collection, benchmarking, analytics, and market functionality;
  • Documenting experiences and lessons learned and developing a framework for scaling.

Our initiative would create new value propositions for agricultural producers around groundwater data, analytics, and markets. Markets monetize water conservation efforts, increasing investment and demand in a host of data-driven analytics and water management technologies. Groundwater trading creates new revenue streams and risk management for agricultural producers, incentivizing the adoption of data collection, modeling, analytic technologies, and financial and other risk management tools.

Moving forward to collect, analyze, and monetize groundwater data in agriculture will take additional partnerships, willing participants, and funding. If you’re interested in taking part and supporting this work, please contact us!