Wednesday June 21, 2023

SJV Water

Scientists have figured out how to more accurately understand ground fluctuations in the San Joaquin Valley. It’s hoped the research will eventually become a tool valley water managers can use to predict the effects of groundwater pumping.

Up until now, researchers have used satellite technology to collect data on changing ground levels, which can tell them about the conditions of groundwater levels. 

But there was a complication. Groundwater pumping wasn’t the only reason the ground was shifting. The sheer mass of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains during winter months also caused changes in the ground on the valley floor. 

Scientists at Stanford University have come up with a way to separate the two types of deformation in a new study. 

Overpumping groundwater in the valley has caused compaction in the lower aquifer which results in subsidence, land sinking. Some areas of the valley have subsided so badly, it has damaged vital infrastructure. A 33-mile section of the Friant-Kern Canal, which runs from Fresno south to Arvin, had sunk because of overpumping. That “sag” has  limited the canal’s carrying capacity by 60%. 

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