Thursday November 18, 2021
UC Riverside —
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency for the entire state of California this past month. The period from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021 was the second-driest year on record in California. Almost 90% of the state is in throes of extreme drought. Reservoir storage is 60% of average. Said one state water official: “It’s almost beyond comprehension.” We asked UCR experts what the future holds if drought conditions persist.
Hoori Ajami, groundwater hydrologist
Q: What will happen to the Central Valley, in terms of groundwater and sinkholes, if farmers continue to grow highly water intensive crops?
A: If farmers continue to pump groundwater at the current rate and do not implement any conservation measures such as managed aquifer recharge, the land subsidence issues become worse. The groundwater levels will drop so far it will not be economically feasible to pump groundwater anymore. The Central Valley aquifer system is already amongst the top three highly depleted aquifer systems in the country. Therefore, improving water resource management based on comprehensive monitoring and water supply forecasting system is needed to maintain a diverse portfolio of crops in the region.