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Napolitano, UC’s Kearney center focus on drought relief

By Benjamin Genta

April 18, 2014 1:06 a.m.

University of California President Janet Napolitano has recently turned her attention toward issues of sustainable water use and agriculture, as state officials focus on an ongoing drought in California.

To learn about the sustainability effort, Napolitano toured the UC’s Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in the San Joaquin Valley on Monday andtalked with the center’s officials and researchers about its efforts to address water conservation issues.

She has already announced a goal of reducing water use by 20 percent at UC campuses by 2020.

“(Napolitano) got a look at California’s drought situation and cropping systems,” said Doug Parker, director of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources’ California Institute for Water Resources. “The increased understanding she has allows her to encourage the research our units do.”

Last year was the state’s driest year on record, part of a drought that has lasted three years. Parker said because of the drought, about 7 percent of the arable land in California will remain unplanted and reservoir water levels will be limited.

The drought will likely lead to increases in food prices, especially in crops such as lettuce, onion and garlic, Parker said.

Although drought is nothing new to California, it can still have a harmful trickle effect and eventually impact farmers, said Jeffery Dahlberg, director of the Kearney Center.

The center, located 15 miles from Fresno, is one of nine agricultural research centers in the UC system. Researchers at the center study irrigation systems and how to increase their water efficiency using new technology.

Compiled by Benjamin Genta, Bruin contributor.

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