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Land-use change and future water demand in California’s central coast

September 14, 2020

Understanding future land-use related water demand is important for planners and resource managers in identifying potential shortages and crafting mitigation strategies. This is especially the case for regions dependent on limited local groundwater supplies. For the groundwater dependent Central Coast of California, we developed two scenarios of future land use and water demand based on sampling from a historical land change record: a business-as-usual scenario (BAU; 1992–2016) and a recent-modern scenario (RM; 2002–2016). We modeled the scenarios in the stochastic, empirically based, spatially explicit LUCAS state-and-transition simulation model at a high resolution (270-m) for the years 2001–2100 across 10 Monte Carlo simulations, applying current land zoning restrictions. Under the BAU scenario, regional water demand increased by an estimated ~222.7 Mm3 by 2100, driven by the continuation of perennial cropland expansion as well as higher than modern urbanization rates. Since 2000, mandates have been in place restricting new development unless adequate water resources could be identified. Despite these restrictions, water demand dramatically increased in the RM scenario by 310.6 Mm3 by century’s end, driven by the projected continuation of dramatic orchard and vineyard expansion trends. Overall, increased perennial cropland leads to a near doubling to tripling perennial water demand by 2100. Our scenario projections can provide water managers and policy makers with information on diverging land use and water use futures based on observed land change and water use trends, helping to better inform land and resource management decisions.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Land-use change and future water demand in California’s central coast
DOI 10.3390/land9090322
Authors Tamara S. Wilson, N. Van Schmidt, Ruth Langridge
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Land
Series Number
Index ID 70213199
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Geographic Science Center