Categorized | Water

Groundwater pumping causing massive San Joaquin Valley subsidence

Credit: Credit: Amy Quinton, Capital Public Radio

Credit: Credit: Amy Quinton, Capital Public Radio

The prolonged California drought, coupled with farmers planting permanent crops, is causing land in the fertile San Joaquin Valley to sink due to overuse of wells. 1200 square miles of the valley is sinking nearly a foot a year, the fastest ever recorded for San Joaquin Valley subsidence. This is creating problems with pipelines, irrigation ditches, and the crucial canals that bring water from the Sacramento Delta to the valley and southern California.

Subsidence is threatening the gravitational flow of water from rivers to canals, buckling concrete canal liners, eroding river banks and levees, and more.

“We found in the study, that much of this area, not necessarily where we’re standing now, but closer to the center of the subsidence bowl, water levels have reached historic lows,” she says. ” That means as long as we’ve been measuring them they’ve never been lower than they have been recently.”

“We have guys out here that are spending $200,000 to 300,000 for a deep well and if the well only lasts 3 or 4 years because subsidence is just wrecking it , that’s a huge amount of money that he has to reinvest again.”

San Joaquin Valley subsidence, 1925-1977

San Joaquin Valley subsidence, 1925-1977

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