Drought Never Ended? Groundwater loss Sinking San Joaquin Valley

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 31 August 2018


Drought Never Ended?

Drought, groundwater loss sinks California land at alarming rate,
Cornell University, August 29,2018.

“...the large agricultural and metropolitan communities that rely on groundwater in central California experienced only a short respite from an ongoing drought.”

The Drought Never Ended
(July 27, 2017)

The Problem, Physical
“...the ground has continued to sink, by up to a half-meter annually...”

“...by early summer the subsidence continued at a similar rate we observed during the drought.””

The Problem, Human
“…the San Joaquin Valley. This region, like many others in the western United States, faces ongoing groundwater extraction, happening faster than it can be replenished. ”

Size of the Problem
“Between 1962 and 2011, previous studies had found that the average volume of groundwater depletion each year was at least a half cubic-mile. Using satellite-based measurements between 2012 and 2016, depletion of the Tulare Basin groundwater volume was estimated at 10 miles cubed, which is comparable to five times the water volume of Cayuga Lake (in the New York’s Finger Lakes region) in that period of time.”

2017 a Brief Reprieve
“In this research, we observed 50 centimeters of subsidence during the drought, and then heavy rains and snowfall over several months in the spring occurred and subsidence slowed down. Six months after the rain – in summer, 2017 – we observed that subsidence rates are again approaching their previous high levels. It was business as usual.”

The Long Angle
“One of the places where it really matters in California is the aqueduct system that brings water to the region. They’re engineered very carefully to have the correct slope to carry a given amount of water,” she said. “Now, one of the major aqueducts in that area is bowed and can't deliver as much water. It’s been a huge engineering nightmare.”



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