Publication Date

Summer 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies


Dustin Mulvaney


alternative water, desalinated water, groundwater management, recycled water, seawater intrusion, water resources management

Subject Areas

Water resources management; Environmental studies; Environmental management


The Salinas River Valley Watershed has endured the effects of seawater intrusion for decades caused by overpumping groundwater from the Salinas River Groundwater Basin. The Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project began delivering recycled water in 1998 with other water sources due to wells becoming too saline. One-on-one, in-person interviews with eighteen growers, who own or lease farmland within the Project’s service area, were conducted during a severe, statewide drought. Interview questions explored grower attitudes and concerns regarding their water supply, and the impact of management strategies on the mitigation of seawater intrusion. Two research questions were posed, exploring factors that influence grower acceptance of alternative water supplies, and whether environmental impacts affect their attitudes. Four prominent factors were found that influence grower acceptance of alternative water supplies: perceived need for water supply, changes to cost and/or water quality, information/education, and level of trust. The study also revealed three motivations of growers for choosing water supplies that do not increase seawater intrusion or contribute to adverse environmental impacts: protecting harvest/land, managing associated cost of operations, and avoiding increased regulations and/or oversight. Growers with fewer numbers of farms and smaller acreage of farmland tended to have a greater perceived need to acquire sustainable water supplies, while being more reluctant to implement water sources of lesser quality.