Wednesday January 24, 2024

CalMatters via Maven’s Notebook

In a sign of the ongoing threats to its precious groundwater stores, half a dozen regions in California rank among the world’s most rapidly declining aquifers, according to research published today.

Globally, lack of local water drives migration, poverty, starvation and violence — while in California, it drives decades-long regulatory battles over how to stop over-pumping by growers.

Aquifers in Spain, Iran, China and Chile top the list of the 100 most rapidly dropping groundwater levels. In California, California’s Cuyama Valley, north of Santa Barbara, ranked 34th worldwide. Its underground basin has been dropping almost 5 feet a year, and residents, farmers and even the school district are locked in a court battle with carrot growers who sued them over groundwater rights.

Four other basins in the San Joaquin Valley and one in northeastern San Diego also netted spots in the top 100, with water levels falling up to almost four feet a year, according to the study, which was led by University of California and Swiss researchers and published in the journal Nature.

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