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Seawater intrusion threatens California’s coastal agriculture. Here’s how the Pajaro Valley is pushing back.

Seawater intrusion was first documented along California’s coast decades ago. But climate change is amplifying the problem.

In the Pajaro Valley, which is known for its apple orchards and strawberry fields, there’s a heavy reliance on groundwater. Years of overuse created space for seawater to creep in.

The community formed the Pajaro Valley Water Management District in the early 1980s to explore ways to curb the encroaching seawater, because salty water can’t be consumed or used to irrigate crops. The agency was among the first to submit their plans for California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, enacted in 2014.

KAZU’s Erika Mahoney met with Brian Lockwood, general manager of the Pajaro Valley Water Management District, to learn more about their approach to halting seawater intrusion.

Erika joined KAZU in 2016. Her roots in radio began at an early age working for the independent community radio station in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. After graduating from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in 2012, Erika spent four years working as a television reporter. She’s very happy to be back in public radio and loves living in the Monterey Bay Area.