This Tech Startup is Trying to Ease the California Drought Through Water Sharing
Reports about tech startups are nothing new. Neither is the sharing economy. We’re all quite used to hearing about people sharing their cars, rooms, and more. But farm water?
According to Mother Jones, there’s a new technology startup that’s allowing farmers to share their excess water. Sustainable Water and Innovative Irrigation Management (SWIIM) works a lot like Airbnb: If a farmer finds herself with a surplus of water, she can lease it out — just like a person with a spare bedroom can rent out his room on Airbnb.
Right now, the service is “being tested statewide this month in a joint venture with Western Growers, a trade group whose farmer-members produce half the nation’s fruits and vegetables,” Mother Jones reports. The hope is that SWIIM could help ease the pain of the California drought, and many farmers’ limited water woes.
The tech startup’s concept is great because it allows farmers with a surplus of water to share it rather than waste it. “Even as urbanites and some farmers have been forced to severely cut back, many other farmers, typically those who hold the most senior water rights, flood their fields with little regard for efficiency,”Mother Jones reports. “SWIIM estimates that farmers in California and Colorado on average waste 25 percent of their water, enough to supply all of the city-dwellers, and then some.”
While some farmers already sell water, the tech startup allows these “sharers” to stay in business while doing so. According to Mother Jones, most farmers who have sold water in the past typically lose a field while leasing water, or, because of that “loss” risk, end up not selling it at all. That’s why SWIIM’s option is much better, according to Mother Jones. It allows farmers to “keep farming while implementing efficiency measures such as drip irrigation or deprivation growing, and then lease out the water they save for profit.”
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