Pumping More Water Than We Can Afford

Water storage and all that fun stuff is nice, but if we are taking away more water than we receive in precipitation, then we are going to have to come up with some other solutions.  And, according to some new data, the Central Valley may be on its way to becoming a desert.

New space observations reveal that since October 2003, the aquifers for California’s primary agricultural region — the Central Valley — and its major mountain water source — the Sierra Nevada — have lost nearly enough water combined to fill Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir. The findings, based on satellite data, reflect California’s extended drought and increased pumping of groundwater for human uses such as irrigation. (Science Daily)

To be more precise, the research team estimates that the Central Valley has lost more than 30 cubic kilometers of water, with a cubic kilometers roughly equivalent to the volume of 400,000 Olympic swimming pools. In other words, a very large amount of water.

Most of that water loss, over 3.5 cubic km/year, is from the Southern Central Valley. The region gets far less rainfall, and sees far more pumping for crops than the northern region of the Valley.

So, while additional storage might be necessary, we are going to have to come up with some way of reducing usage. Whether that is allowing more fields to lie fallow, or to change crops to less thirsty plants, the current usage pattern is not sustainable.

5 thoughts on “Pumping More Water Than We Can Afford”

  1. Thank god Meg Whitman doesn’t think global warming is a problem. God forbid anyone actually tries to do anything about this crisis…

  2. Doesn’t it seem just a tad disingenuous to try to use one of the worst droughts in modern history to inform water policy?  

  3. ….the Westlands out of politics. Kinda extreme but hey!

    With folks like Meg and O’Bomber in charge it’s all about the Geetus and the hell with anything else, eh?

  4. Now let’s talk about the increasing degradation of the Valley’s aquifers. The salinization of farmlands by current agricultural practices. The fact that agribusiness interests are selling subsidized water south for development in desert areas that really can’t support more population growth–but net the sellers millions in profits at taxpayer expense.

    Let’s talk about the bad bills out of the last emergency legislative session that favor expensive dams and a peripheral canal that will further exacerbate these problems. Plus cost California taxpayers billions and billions of dollars that will further erode our infrastructure and educational spending. All while better, cheaper solutions are ignored.

    There is much that needs to be changed about our water usage as a state. And much scientific evidence that backs that up. This is just the latest.

    But, you are so right, doing more of what we’re already doing now at a cost of tens of billions more–is not sustainable.

Comments are closed.