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California Sinking as Groundwater is Pumped

droughtExtensive groundwater pumping is causing a huge swath of central California to sink, National Geographic says, citing US Geological Survey reports.

Some areas of the San Joaquin Valley are subsiding at the fastest rates ever measured, according to a hydrologist and lead author of the report.

The bulk of the sinking 1,200-square-mile area in central California is dropping about an inch per year. But one 2-square-mile area studied is subsiding almost a foot.

The worst subsidence increases flooding risks as portions of the area’s flood control system have sunk, reducing their ability to contain floodwater. Local officials are creating emergency plans for where to place sandbags when big rains return.

Other canals and dams that deliver water to irrigate the fields of hundreds of growers are also losing capacity as parts of them sink.

The federal Delta-Mendota Canal, which delivers water from northern California to growers and cities in the Central Valley, runs near the edge of the subsidence bowl and was the focus of the USGS study.

 

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One thought on “California Sinking as Groundwater is Pumped

  1. This drought is really hitting California hard with statewide water emergencies, loosening of environmental protections and now… sinking valleys. And the worst part is that according to some scientists, this drought (or at least a period of decreased rainfall) may not end for another 100 years

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