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Water wizards: Building an underground savings account to bolster water supply
Almond Board |

If the sight of this winter's torrential rains left you pining for a way to capture the precious overflows, you are not alone. UC Santa Cruz alum Daniel Mountjoy is working to do just that—on a scale that has the potential to ease the state's increasingly persistent cycles of deluge and drought. The idea is to divert water from overflowing rivers onto fallow farmland, where it seeps into the soil and replenishes depleted aquifers. These "underground reservoirs" function like savings accounts, storing a valued resource for lean times. "The goal is balance. We want to redirect surplus water, fill underground basins, and have that water available to farmers during drought years," says Mountjoy (BA, environmental studies, 1985), director of resource stewardship at Sustainable Conservation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit focused on solving resource management problems. Today, Mountjoy is partnering with Cameron and the Almond Board of California, UC Davis, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and several irrigation districts. Traditional academic research takes place over many years, but farmers and water managers are eager to move quickly, says Mountjoy, who sees himself as a bridge between researchers and growers. "This is how I like to work, from the ground up as opposed to the top down," he says. "Those who steward the land often know the issues and the problems, and have ideas about what to do, so it's about bringing them into dialogue with researchers, regulators, and economists to validate and refine the solutions."

About the Almond Board of California

Almonds from California are a healthy, natural, wholesome and quality food. The Almond Board of California promotes almonds with a research-based approach to responsible farming, production and marketing on behalf of the more than 7,600 almond growers and processors in California, many of whom have third- and fourth-generation family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, the Almond Board of California is a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit or check out California Almonds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the California Almonds blog.