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Steyer Fellowship to Focus on Groundwater
Lori Pottinger February 11, 2016

A new fellowship will enable the PPIC Water Policy Center to explore solutions to some of California’s toughest groundwater policy challenges. This three-year program is supported with funding from the TomKat Foundation, established with funding from Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor. PPIC has appointed Richard Howitt, an adjunct fellow at the center, as the 2016 Steyer Fellow.

Howitt is one of the state’s leading thinkers on how drought, land-use changes, and economic factors are affecting California’s agricultural sector. As an emeritus professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis, he’s devoted years to researching the agricultural economy and water markets. He’s played an important role in a number of major research projects looking into drought’s impacts on the farm economy and water management solutions for the long term.

"We are grateful for this support because it advances the water center's programs and priorities,” said Ellen Hanak, center director.

Howitt will explore solutions to excess groundwater pumping the San Joaquin Valley—the state’s most important agricultural region and largest water user.

"Farmers significantly increased pumping to weather the latest drought. At the same time, they’ve been increasing acreage devoted to perennial crops—which can’t be fallowed as easily when water supplies are short,” Howitt notes.

The state’s new groundwater law requires the valley’s water users to develop sustainable groundwater management plans by 2020. Howitt and a team of PPIC Water Policy Center researchers will undertake a comprehensive analysis of possible sustainable water management solutions for the region.

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