Water-well drillers backlogged in sinking California Central Valley

Credit: Credit: Amy Quinton, Capital Public Radio
Credit: Credit: Amy Quinton, Capital Public Radio

The agricultural heartland that is the California Central Valley is slowing sinking as groundwater is pumped out at a furious rate due to the drought. Subsidence, the sinking of land due to pumping water out of aquifers, causes major problems for canals, water pipes, roads, and more.. In some areas the land is sinking a foot a year.

Since it is impossible reinforce underground aquifers, when the land sinks it takes whatever is on top along for the ride. Sneed warns that because most infrastructure isn’t very flexible, like roads, railways and pipelines, they end up being broken or impacted because of subsidence.

California is the only state in the western United States that does not regulate groundwater pumping. There are currently bills in both the Assembly and state Senate that would change that.

Once land sinks, it never comes back to the previous levels.

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