understanding of well fouling and decreased productivity that led to applying better well rehabilitation methods to existing wells, sometimes saving the need to drill new wells.

Advances were made in pumping equipment for water wells that reduced the power requirements needed to move water to the surface and put it on the field. The biggest change was the increase in variable frequency drives that turned the motor and pumped the water at a variable rate that met the specific needs of the farmer, thus reducing wasteful pumping and excess energy. VFDs reduced the amount of electrical power required to move water by automatically tailoring pumping rates to real-time water needs in the field.

Farmers found better ways to apply irrigation water to the fields that reduced waste. Utilizing better ways of applying fertilizers to crops reduced the cost of application and the runoff of chemicals into streams. Advances made in agriculture soil science teamed with the irrigation industry greatly improved efficiencies and reduced water demands.

Due to the need caused by the drought, advances were made in weather predictions and local weather observation stations. Field moisture sensors, and variations in soil adsorptions across a given field, are now integrated into the pumping of groundwater and surface water onto the fields and crops. We are learning together how to grow more food with less water and lower energy costs. The same techniques were also applied to turf irrigation where conserving groundwater and reducing pumping costs are just as important.

The drought brought new opportunities for farmers outside of California, as well. Some agriculture firms moved into neighboring states, such as Arizona, Nevada and Utah, looking for new or existing farms and fields to grow crops. This created new opportunities for both parties in these states. New well drilling began, and some struggling farms were rejuvenated with new management and improved irrigation technology.

We are all in the same breadbasket, so to speak, when it comes to food and water. We all need a sustainable food supply and a sustainable surface and groundwater resource. Food and water are linked — as are the industries that provide both. Our future depends on maintaining the link that exists between agriculture and water wells and achieving a sustainable use of our precious groundwater.

Farm in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah

Gary L. Hix, CWD/PI, RG, CPG, is a well inspector and consultant for In2Wells. He is a certified well driller and pump installer by the

National Ground Water Association and a certified professional geologist as recognized by the American Institute of Professional Geologists. He is an experienced instructor

and a published author on many subjects related to water well construction, development, testing and equipping.

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