Friday August 12, 2022

Monterey County Weekly

What if the water coming out of your tap, or the water irrigating the produce you eat, was mined from an ancient water source from when woolly mammoths used to walk the Earth? Is that sustainable?

The latter is a question facing the Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency’s board on Thursday, Aug. 11, when they will be presented with the most comprehensive study of that ancient water source in at least 20 years, and maybe ever. It’s a draft, not yet finalized, but it’s fair to say it doesn’t look good.

The stakes are high: Residents in Salinas, Marina, Castroville and parts of Seaside, as well as various agricultural interests, depend on it.

It’s called the deep aquifer, and is around 900 feet below the surface, a subterranean reservoir of water believed to be at least 20,000 years old, pre-dating the first humans that arrived in North America. But because of over-pumping by the local agricultural industry, which has led to decades-long seawater intrusion in the overlying 180 – and 400-foot aquifers – both named for their depth – the coastal areas of the northern Salinas Valley have increasingly relied on it.

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