With a $1.6 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation this project focuses on communities in the Tulare River Basin in The San Joaquin Valley of California. As one of the most productive agricultural regions in the United States the Tulare River Basin is threatened by unsustainable groundwater pumping. This leaves large landowners and disadvantaged communities highly vulnerable to unexpected shortages in surface water supply for personal and agricultural use. Regions such as these face difficult tradeoffs between economic and water security. Lessons learned from the region provide important insight to other regions undergoing significant change in the wake of natural disasters.

This interdisciplinary project analyzes the complex relationships between surface and groundwater supply, agricultural land use decisions, and economic well-being in rural disadvantaged communities.  This project identifies and quantifies the feedback between water supply sustainability and economic productivity in agricultural areas and will enhance support for decision making regarding infrastructure and regulation, thereby helping to improve the robustness and resilience of these communities to natural shocks such as drought. The project has yielded models that integrate ground and surface water supplies with land use and socioeconomic information to develop future scenarios that can be used for management and planning. The models are informed by a participatory involvement of stakeholders and policy makers, which  improve decision-support tools and advance communication among different groups based on the findings from the scenarios. The broader impacts of this project focus on assisting local disadvantaged communities to participate in the governance of water and natural resources to support policy decisions in the wake of natural disasters.

More Information on this NSF Funded Project can be found here.


Related Publications

Visser, M. A., G. Kumetat, and G. Scott. (2024). Drought, Water Management, and Agricultural Livelihoods: Understanding Human-Ecological System Management and Livelihood Strategies of Farmer’s in Rural California. Journal of Rural Studies. Volume 109,

Visser, M.A. C.E. Cannon, and L. Panyanouvong. (2021). Strategies for Recovery from Natural Disasters in Indian Country: A view from California. California Blue Ribbon Committee for the Rehabilitation of Clear Lake. California Department of Fish and Wildlife: State of California.

Teasley, R. L., Dahlke, H. E., Herman, J. D., Gupta, C., & Visser, M. A. (2019, December). The Dynamics of Water Supplies, Land Use, and Disadvantaged Communities in the Tulare Lake Basin, California. In AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts (Vol. 2019, pp. H21O-1975)

Visser, M.A., L. Panyanouvong and D.J Fiedler-Riddle. (2018) A Socioeconomic Impact Assessment of the Community-Based Mobile Manufacturing of Structural Masonry Using Regional Materials Project: A Report to the USDA. Research Report. United States Department of Agriculture, Small Business Research and Innovation Grant Program/Watershed Materials.