California vineyard water ban ‘will cost economy $2bn a year’

Plans to restrict water use in vineyards across California’s Sonoma and Mendocino counties could cost the local economy up to US$2bn a year, according to a new report.

The report, commissioned by Williams Selyem winery, said up to 8,000 jobs could be lost as a result of the move by California’s State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), which wants to restrict wineries’ use of Russian River water for frost protection.

Written by Robert Eyler, professor and chair of economics at Sonoma State University, the report assesses the ‘significant’ loss of business income, state and local taxes, and land values, as well as the impact on tourism.

Frost damage would cut production, it says, resulting in fewer employees and lower wages across the distribution chain of the local wine industry.

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