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“Coming tsunami” of dry wells in California’s Central Valley

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It’s not just the drought. California’s refusal to be proactive about pumping water from wells is a major reason for shallow wells running dry. Wells that have been reliable for years are running dry in the San Joaquin Valley. Worse, water levels are dropping faster than normal. Thousands of residents have scheduled new wells to be drilled. The waiting list is months long. Some wells have already run dry. The extreme drought coupled with big ag drilling ever-deeper wells is dropping aquifer levels. California recently passed a toothless law regulating groundwater pumping however it will take years to implement. Other western states have regulated wells for decades.

The winter precipitation ended up about half of normal. Last week, Clark’s well went dry.

Clark is filling up water bottles at another neighbor’s house. She’s using it to cook, drink and flush the toilet. The shower is unusable. She’s eating off paper plates so she won’t have to wash dishes.

To bathe, she’s going to a relative’s house in Lemoore.

270 families in East Porterville, population 7,000, say their wells have run dry, a number which will certainly grow larger.

England said counting the number of dry wells is difficult because people don’t come forward fearing their children will be taken away if their home lacks a safe water source, or they believe that their home would be condemned, making them homeless.

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