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Our work on water begins in the Pajaro Valley, Driscoll’s home. The issues we face in the Pajaro Valley are not unique to the area, as we have seen water quality and supply issues globally. However, we have chosen to begin our work in one area to ensure we are focused and creating real change. We expect to expand our work and leverage what we learn in the Pajaro Valley to address water issues in other parts of the globe.
Agriculture is the largest business sector in the Pajaro Valley because of the fertile soil and ideal climate that make conditions near perfect for fruits and vegetables, the floral industry and coastal wine. Driscoll’s independent farmers comprise a significant percentage of the farmed land use and the area’s water consumption.
Pajaro Valley’s primary water source is groundwater, which is in a state of severe overdraft. On an annual basis, groundwater is being pumped at twice the rate that the aquifer can safely withstand. As a result of over-pumping, seawater intrusion (which has been an issue since the 1950s) continues to worsen, diminishing and contaminating the basin's water supply.
What we’re doing:
We are actively working to improve water levels and the water quality of the aquifer to ensure that agriculture can continue to thrive in the Pajaro Valley. This project requires long-term planning, leadership, innovation and collaboration. We know that long-term change cannot be achieved by our company alone. Working with and learning from our colleagues, our independent farmers, the community and our competitors is essential to achieving true success.
Although we don’t control our independent farmers’ actions, we believe that we have a great responsibility to help them understand their water use, promote conservation and support projects that will help balance the aquifer. It will take a diverse portfolio of solutions to balance the aquifer including: retiring, fallowing, and rotating land; conservation; recharge projects; and other local projects.
Some of our key projects and accomplishment to date include:
- Establishing a formal forum for dialogue and collaborative projects with more than 50 community leaders and stakeholders
- Conducting water use research and data collection
- Piloting irrigation technologies and efficiencies
- Conducting farmer irrigation trainings and extension
- Researching nutrient management and leaching
- Partnering with farmers, the Resource Conservation District and Sustainable Conservation to develop performance-based incentives to reduce water use and improve water quality
- Creating the first private groundwater recharge project in collaboration with the University of California, Santa Cruz
As we continue to learn about our water footprint, we are working to better understand the water issues in all the areas in which our farmers grow, so we can actively care for our resources and limit our environmental impact.
The aquifer recharge pilot was officially launched in early 2012. It’s the first basin to be built collaboratively between private and public agencies. We partnered with one of our farmers, landowners, the Resource Conservation District, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the University of California, Santa Cruz to test, build and monitor a recharge pilot. Hydrologic estimates from UCSC predict that the basin will capture 200 acre feet of water per year (eight acre feet per day of rainfall for 30 days of rain).We hope that it can serve as a model and that we can eventually leverage what we learn to help other landowners replicate the model in any water-constrained area.
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Conservation is part of our company culture and must include employee participation.
Learn about our commitment to growing organic berries.
In addition to conservation, our employees are actively involved in the communities where they live and work.