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The Value of Water

Whether he is floating on it or figuring out a plan for a landowner to use it as a new revenue stream, Clay Landry is almost always thinking about water.

“It is my profession, and it’s my vocation and advocation,” Landy told American Farmland Owner from his office in Boise, Idaho.

Downtime for Landry means a chance to enjoy the water but also contemplate its best uses at a time when some agricultural producers question whether water will be there for them in the future.

“I spend a lot of time on the river fishing and floating. It’s a place I go to just sort of disconnect and recharge,” Landry said.

LEARN MORE: Find out additional information about Clay Landry’s experience in the water industry, including international projects and his work to establish the Montana Water Trust. Click here. 

Although, he may never truly disconnect from the water. Landry is the CEO, President, and a Principal of WestWater Research. His firm provides valuation and appraisal services for clients (e.g., government, Indian tribes, and private companies) on water acquisition and development projects.

Landry sees challenges and opportunities when he looks across the country’s water availability. No doubt there are areas with serious water challenges. But he wants to see more focus on opportunities to overcome challenges.

RELATED: Recent heavy rains improved drought conditions in some areas of the country, including parts of the Plains, Midwest, Oregon, and Montana. But drought worsened in portions of Florida and Washington. Overall, drought declined by 22% since April, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor provided by the National Integrated Drought Information System.

For landowners, he wants them to view water as a potential stream for new income. “There are few things in our life that water doesn’t touch,” he explains.

Landry works to lay out the potential for landowners who can find ways to minimize their water needs, so they can maximize their ability to sell supply elsewhere.

To do that, he must convince landowners to reimagine their farm. Where can they save water? How? Would their incomes be better served if they changed crop selection or rotation to free up available water to sell?

That isn’t always easy, especially for those who have run their operations a certain way for a long time. “There’s growing opportunity for farm owners and operators to monetize water off farm through various types of water leasing programs,” Landry said. “That can be pretty scary.”

Landry said that he understands reluctance to change. But he believes that showing owners, operators, and investors the possible guaranteed additional income can win over the skeptics.

RELATED: California Assembly James Gallagher explains the new statewide initiative for water use, why he disagrees with some if it, and how it impacts his family farm in this conversation for the American Farmland Owner podcast in November. 

“I get that. Change is challenging. Change is scary. But the economics are extremely compelling in terms of what that means for the farm,” Landry said.



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