Tag Archive for 'california groundwater'

Lawmakers Get Disturbing Picture Of Status of Groundwater

“Groundwater supplies are at an all-time low in both the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins. Management of that dwindling supply was the focus of debate at the state Capitol.”

The Legislative Analyst’s Office told lawmakers that without comprehensive statewide regulation of groundwater, management of the state’s water supply will be increasingly difficult. The LAO suggests the state require local water districts to phase in groundwater permitting and keep track of how much water is extracted from all groundwater wells.

“Hydrologist Jay Famiglietti with UC Irvine says in some places water will disappear in a matter of decades.

“The water losses over the past couple of years have been particularly profound,” says Famiglietti. ”They are roughly equal to 12 and a half cubic kilometers per year which is on annual basis more water than all human water use domestic, municipal, urban water use for all Californians.”

“Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposes almost five million dollars to hire more people to identify, monitor and potentially regulate groundwater basins that are in danger of permanent damage.
You can view the LAO’s report here.




“And during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years.”

Pacific Institute“In 1952 John Steinbeck wrote East of Eden, a monumental book about the lives of a community, families, and individuals living in the Salinas Valley of California between the late 1800s through the Great War. The scope of the book is vast, taking on the themes of love and hate, good and evil, the sweep of human emotions, frailties, and strengths, all in the context of a California that no longer exists. And while the book isn’t about water, themes of water flow through it as a metaphor for the cycles of life, drought and flood, and in images of California alternatively parched and quenched. I’ve just had the enormous pleasure of reading it [thank you, Daniel, for the recommendation], and near the very beginning, amidst the grand truths woven through the book is the following prose, as true today as a century ago:

“And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.”

“It was always that way” about water, and it still is. And if we are to have any hope of changing this cycle of crisis and forgetfulness, we have to start thinking differently.

“California has just suffered through three years of drought. Certainly not the first such drought and certainly not the last. And during the drought, we had the opportunity to think differently, to do things differently. But we failed to do so.

“Indeed, during the recent drought, California water policy moved badly backward, in large part because of the influential actions of a small set of powerful but narrowly self-interested parties. These groups acted to protect and even expand their own uses of water at the expense of all other uses, human and environmental. This is, indeed, how it has always been in California, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise. But our society is so interconnected now, our populations so large and interwined, and our water resources so constrained, that such narrow self-interests can no longer be tolerated. They don’t just result in the unfair enrichment of a few; they result in the impoverishment of everyone else. In particular, during the recent dry years, four serious missteps were taken or proposed:”

Read more: SF Chronicle