News - August 10, 2015

Blog: Dealing with drought in the US

As a research institute our biggest market is the question market. We thrive on questions. We love them. But even more than our love for questions, we get the real adrenaline rush when finding answers.

Written by Susan Nysingh, business developer based in California

When I first got to California, I had many, many questions. They were ranging from ‘Where will I live?' and ‘What buses to take?’ to ‘What could Alterra do here’ and ‘Where do I begin?’

The basic things have long been taken care off; I’ve found an apartment in the city at about 30 minutes from the Dutch consulate, where I have a desk to work. Now, the adrenaline rush is on a high as I am discovering more and more where the best opportunities for Alterra/WUR are.

Take the drought for instance. The drought is big. The problem is urgent. Signs to ‘Save Water’ are everywhere. About 400,000 acres are fallowed this year because of the drought. 17,000 people have already lost their jobs as a direct result of drought in agriculture. About 1 million people in California do not have access to clean running drinking water, partly due to contamination of wells.  The snowpack is down to 8% of its usual size, since precipitation has started falling in the form of rain instead of snow. And these are just a few of the numbers, the list goes on and on…

I have talked to many stakeholders and attended multiple conferences on the topic. In the coming years, more than 7 billion dollars will be spent on dealing with drought.  Wherever I go, I keep hearing about the Australian model, and the need to learn from the Australians in conserving water. I also keep hearing about the need for an integrated approach. And I think that is exactly our selling point here: the Dutch approach to integrated water management. Especially on the water / food nexus.

Yesterday, I gave a presentation at the Governor’s Office where I presented on the Dutch approach, and specifically what Alterra/WUR could add to that in terms of water management, climate smart agriculture and governance strategies to increase resiliency. The presentation itself was well received and led to a fruitful discussion with many questions. Fortunately, it also led to the adrenaline rush as I found answers to some of the questions I had asked myself before.

The great thing about finding answers though, is that there are often more questions coming up. And so the story continues.

With this blog Susan is competing to become a blogger for Resource.