Accelerating Drought Resilience Through Innovative Technologies

Tulare County is the largest agricultural producing county in California and the county most severely impacted by the recent and ongoing California drought. Dairies within the county are at the epicenter of the region’s highest priority resource and environmental challenges:
drought, nitrates, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. This project focused on identifying technologies and accelerating implementation of technologies that can achieve long term water supply reliability (“drought resilience”) while also increasing electricity reliability.

The project team conducted primary and secondary research over two years to identify technology needs and candidate solutions that could build drought resilience, support electric reliability, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Tulare County and the surrounding South
San Joaquin Valley area. The team focused on existing and emerging technologies that could be fast-tracked for near-term, cost-effective benefits, and assessed solutions to determine technology readiness and anticipated implementation barriers.

Key findings of the research include: (1) no statewide program exists to help mitigate customers’ costs and risks for investments in distributed water resources; (2) despite the critical need to build drought resilience, public investments in development of distributed water resources is low; (3) public investments in cross-cutting projects, programs, and strategies that achieve multiple benefits requires new policies, programs, metrics, and tools; and (4) accelerating early change-outs of water fixtures can provide substantial incremental water, energy, and greenhouse gas benefits.

Recommended actions to address challenges to building drought resilience include: creating statewide distributed water resources program; accelerating retirements of inefficient water fixtures; leveraging state programs to improve data on water supplies and uses; and establishing centers of excellence in technologies that achieve California’s vision for a clean and resilient future. Estimated annual benefits of these actions include savings of more than 30 billion gallons of water, nearly 60 gigawatt-hours of electricity, and 866 million pounds of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions.

CEC-500-2019-037-FINAL-WEI-EPIC-REPORT.pdf download View | Download
Keywords: comprehensive valuation, drought resilience, drought resilient technologies, electric reliability, greenhouse gas emissions, market facilitation, multi-benefit projects, optimized public investments, water and energy savings
Categories: Publication, Study