California’s limited water supply presents challenges for urban farmers. Because water for urban agriculture projects is often from municipal sources, it is likely to be more expensive, making water conservation critical. Accessing water can also be a challenge, since some vacant properties used for urban agriculture may not have existing water lines or meters. City water departments or other local utilities that manage water are the first place to look for information about water rates and water hook-ups.
Once a water source is in place, urban farmers should learn about irrigation systems, and strategies for conserving water and reducing run-off.
Urban farmers who sell their farm products should be aware that even if they are very small, some state and federal water regulations may apply to them. For example, the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program regulates discharges from irrigated agricultural lands, such as water that runs off farms after a storm. This program is coordinated by California’s Regional Water Boards, and may require that farmers get an individual permit, or join a group that has a conditional waiver to discharge water. Farmers should contact the office in their region for details.