A persistent drought is exacting an enormous economic and human cost in California’s farming heartland. Researchers from eight San Joaquin Valley counties collaborated in a comprehensive assessment of the historic drought’s wide-ranging effects.

Fresno State’s Water Cohort team members included economics, civil engineering, public health, urban/regional planning and mass communications faculty, plus experts from the California Water Institute.

The need for a comprehensive drought impact assessment in this region is compelling. A 2014 UC Davis study notes that 70 percent of the statewide crop revenue losses and most of the dairy losses are likely to occur in the San Joaquin Valley—a region that produces a significant portion of the country’s fruits, nuts, vegetables, and cotton.

Fresno State is expanding on the original report, providing a fuller picture of the devastating effects in the heartland of the San Joaquin Valley. The report, funded by a Wells Fargo Foundation grant, presents five conclusions and recommendations for changing perceptions and attitudes about water and water use and contains resources for further study and public participation.

“Fresno State is making water awareness a main university-wide theme,” notes David Zoldoske, director of the Fresno State Center for Irrigation Technology. “To fully understand the role of water in the San Joaquin Valley, it will take the collective expertise found at Fresno State. This report represents substantial progress in achieving that goal.”

Read the Fresno State Drought Impact Report.