THE SOURCE INTERVIEW
Th e N a t u re Conser vancy
A First-of-its-kind Groundwater Market in Ventura County,
California May Just Be a Model for the State
E.J. Remson, The Nature Conservancy, Matthew Fienup, California Lutheran University and Edgar Terry, Terry Farms.
THE FOX CANYON GROUNDWATER MARKET, California’s first formal centralized groundwater
market under the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), is a unique partnership
between a groundwater management agency, a local university and an organization best known for
environmental conservation. California Lutheran University led the effort to organize and structure the
market; Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency (FCGMA) passed the ordinances that authorized
a pilot to test the strategies and administrative structure the university helped develop; and The Nature
Conservancy secured an $800,000 National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) grant to subsidize the
advanced metering structure (AMI) that has made it possible. Here, E.J. Remson, The Nature Conservancy’s
Senior Program Director, talks about how it all came together.
BY PENELOPE GRENOBLE
SOURCE: How would you describe the market?
REMSON: It’s essentially a cap-and-trade system built on
matching the highest amount someone is willing to pay for
water with the lowest amount someone is willing to sell it for. An
algorithm matches them up. Groundwater becomes an economic
asset, increasing conservation and water use efficiencies.
Growers have the flexibility to adapt to uncertain or declining
availability and can use their water for purposes they consider
the most valuable.
SOURCE: What caused The Nature Conservancy to
REMSON: It’s a great laboratory in which to engage. The Santa
Clara River runs through the basins FCGMA administers. For the
past 18 years, we have been securing land in the area to preserve
the river ecosystem and protect threatened and endangered
Ventura County is the eleventh most productive agricultural
county in the country — no small player in the agricultural