University of California

Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture - An International Conference Linking Science and Policy


June 17-20, 2024

Burlingame/San Francisco, California

This three-day international conference with a pre-conference workshop day will again bring together leading scientists, policy analysts, policy and decision makers, and agricultural and environmental stakeholder representatives to define and highlight the science of and the challenges in agricultural groundwater resources management and groundwater quality protection. The conference will also offer a forum to identify potential technical and policy solutions that provide a sustainable future at regional, national, and global scales.

Groundwater is the lifeline for many rural and agricultural regions and their associated cultures and populations around the globe and a cornerstone of global food production. Groundwater constitutes nearly half the world's drinking water and much of the world's irrigation water supply. Population growth, overexploitation, salinization, nonpoint source pollution from agricultural activities (including animal farming, ranching, and forestry activities), groundwater quality and quantity conflicts at the urban-rural interface, and impacts of groundwater pumping and pollution on surface water have reached global dimensions and threaten the health and livelihood of this planet.

A call for abstracts will be posted here in the fall of 2023.  Sign up to our email list (bottom of this page) to stay informed.



The 2016 Conference


Program overview:

The conference featured discussions about threats to groundwater, such as overuse; salinity; nonpoint source pollution from agricultural activities, animal farming, agricultural groundwater impacts to surface water; and groundwater quality and quantity conflicts at the urban-rural interface, which have reached global dimensions and threaten the very livelihood of this planet. Challenges, opportunities, and successful solutions in the technical and policy fields were highlighted. The conference offered a unique opportunity for networking across disciplines.

Session topics explored a broad diversity but related set of issues at the groundwater-agriculture nexus:

  • Groundwater Management and Policy
  • California's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)
  • Nitrate policy, assessment, and monitoring
  • Nonpoint source pollution from animal agriculture
  • Groundwater-dependent ecosystems and groundwater-surface water interaction
  • Managed aquifer recharge
  • Energy-water-food nexus
  • Environmental justice and livelihood
  • Climate change and adaptation
  • Economics and policy
  • Salinity and salinity policy
  • Emerging contaminants
  • Modeling and data (groundwater quantity/management/quality)
  • Agricultural BMPs for groundwater resources quantity and/or quality protection
  • USDA National Insights and Actions

The over 300 attendees included:

  • agricultural leaders/advocates/extension trainers in local/regional/state organizations
  • groundwater managers and technical personnel in local and regional water agencies
  • regulatory and planning agency personnel in regional/state/federal agencies
  • consultants in engineering, hydrology/hydrogeology, and agricultural resources management
  • scientists, researchers, and students with interests at the groundwater-agriculture nexus
  • NGOs working in environment, environmental justice, and agriculture

 - 2016 Presentations and Videos Available Online -

The Foundation and UC Davis sponsored a similar conference in 2010. The 2016 conference was held June 28-30 at the same location – the Hyatt Regency at the San Francisco Airport in Burlingame. Pre-conference workshops were held Monday, June 27.


Available Resources from the 2010 Conference


For questions regarding this website, please email Dr. Thomas Harter


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