Since the 1960’s, sustainability has been at the core of the Westlands Water District comprehensive water delivery system. The closed pipeline system—over 1,000 miles of underground pipe–and metered deliveries enables the delivery of water with virtually no losses to seepage, evaporation, or spills. Laser leveling, computer-aided drip irrigation and the extensive use of global positioning systems help Westlands growers achieve water use efficiencies of 85 percent or more. By 2010, more than two-thirds of Westlands’ irrigated lands were served by drip irrigation systems, representing an investment of more than $500 million.
Westlands’ Sustainability Program also actively provides growers with information and assistance directed at achieving higher irrigation efficiencies and reducing deep percolation. From 1987-91 Westlands provided nearly $1 million to Westlands growers to obtain the services of irrigation consultants. Under this program, consultants evaluated the growers’ irrigation systems and management and made recommendations directed at increasing irrigation effectiveness and reducing deep percolation.
The Sustainability Program continually responds to the needs of growers and addresses critical conservation issues, such as soil salinity, by implementing grower information and assistance programs to achieve the following goals:
- Increase seasonal application efficiency
- Increase distribution uniformity
- Increase crop yields
- Decrease deep percolation
- Decrease the effects of soil salinity
Overall, the program has resulted in significantly improved stabilization of shallow groundwater depths, substantial increases in the number of sprinkler and drip irrigation systems, and intensified irrigation management due to the utilization of irrigation specialists and scientific technology.