Economic Analysis of the 2014 Drought for California Agriculture: A Post-Assessment Using Remote Sensing


Photo Credit: 
Kelly M Grow, DWR

Brown Bag Presentation featuring Josue Medellin-Azuara, Senior Researcher for the Center for Watershed Sciences of UC Davis

This presentation discusses methods and results in estimating the economic impacts of the 2014 California Drought on irrigated agriculture. Emphasis is placed on the Central Valley, which hosts over 7 million acres of irrigated land and has been more severely affected by drought. Study results highlight the role of groundwater for coping with drought, the region-wide effects of fallowing on employment and income and the vulnerabilities of the water supply system in agriculture. The early estimates of the drought impacts predicted more than 410 thousand acres of land fallowed in the Central Valley costing $800 million in crop revenue, $200 million for dairies and livestock and nearly $450 million in increased pumping costs to partially offset surface water shortage. Remote sensing using Landsat imagery was employed to compare overall idle land patterns. Estimates coincide for the most part, with some discrepancies in the Sacramento Valley where additional rice fallowing occurred due to water trading and other factors. Research in progress includes use of energy balance approaches to estimate water consumptive use in high fallow areas to improve economic modeling in future drought assessments.

Josué Medellín is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Watershed Sciences of UC Davis. His areas of expertise include hydro-economic modeling, region-wide economic impact analysis, water recycling and remote sensing for estimating agricultural consumptive use. His professional experience includes project and environmental management positions for industry and consulting for non-governmental organizations such as the Natural Heritage Institute, the Stockholm Environment Institute, El Colegio de México, the Catholic University of Chile and the World Bank. Josue also serves as a Vice-Convener for the California Water and Environmental Modeling Forum since 2013More recently, Josué has been involved in the economic assessment of the 2014 California drought. Josué holds an undergraduate degree in engineering and graduate degrees in business and economics. He obtained his Ph.D. in Ecology from UC Davis 2006 with his dissertation on environmental flows for restoring the Colorado River Delta.