Without their normal allocations of water from the Sacramento Valley, Central Valley farmers are forced to drill for water. The land has been dropping steadily for decades due to increased use of groundwater. This pumping isn’t regulated. It needs to be.
Now those forces are renewing an age-old problem of environmental degradation: Decades ago, overpumping sunk half of the entire San Joaquin Valley, in one area as much as 28 feet. Today new areas are subsiding, some almost a foot each year, damaging bridges and vital canals.
Yet in California, one of the few states that doesn’t regulate how much water can be pumped from underground, even this hasn’t been enough to create a consensus to stop.