The San Joaquin Valley is rapidly sinking due to groundwater extraction… some areas have fallen 28 feet… and it’s accelerating

Thursday, March 23, 2017
By Paul Martin

by: Russel Davis
Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Groundwater extraction has caused immense damage to San Joaquin Valley, California, as image data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has shown. The region has suffered pronounce land subsidence over the years. The California Water Science Center defines land subsidence as the gradual settling of the earth’s surface. Simply put, San Joaquin Valley is sinking, and it has been for years. According to the CWCS, the primary causes of land subsidence include aquifer-system compaction, underground mining, oil and gas extraction and drainage and decomposition of organic soils.

Excessive pumping has been the primary culprit in this subsidence. According to data from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, groundwater extraction that began in the 1920s has caused various parts of land in the region to subside or sink by as much as 8.5 meters. Long-term land subsidence has long been putting government properties — such as federal aqueducts, levees, bridges and roads — at risk of damage. The drought has also played a major part in the subsidence in the region.

The San Joaquin Valley’s subsidence has already caused damage to thousands of public and private groundwater wells. The current subsidence is also putting the public health at risk as it can permanently reduce the storage capacity of underground aquifers, therefore endangering future water supply, data showed. There is currently no available comprehensive data on the damage costs accounted for the subsidence, but the state and federal water agencies have already coughed up approximately $100 million in repairs since the 1960s.

Examining the extent of subsidence

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