Groundwater Tiff Stalls California Water Deal

Fascinating Greenwire story in today’s New York Times on a provision for statewide groundwater monitoring potentially sinking California’s massive water legislation deal:

Then groundwater monitoring reappeared and slowed momentum in the chamber. A bill that would require statewide monitoring of water pumped from the ground — as opposed to more relaxed local control — was defeated under pressure from agribusiness groups and water districts, just as it was rejected earlier this fall.

California faces the same huge problem that we have in large areas of the country: overdrafting groundwater. But this story makes it look like the complex water deal taking shape in California depends for its solution on continuing to ignore the groundwater problem there. (h/t Michael Campana)


  1. Eli, it’s probably a bit too fine-grained for GRACE. The basin-wide stuff GRACE could measure isn’t much of a mystery. OTOH maybe the European gravity sat will be able to help.

  2. Look up “Kettleman aquifer” — California’s long had this stupid law that if you have a right to pump X gallons per year, you have to actually pump that much water every year without fail or lose your priority in the use of the water. Even in years when the recharge of the aquifer is insufficient to keep it topped up. So in years when the water is removed from the aquifer, not replaced, and the void space left full of air collapses, the result is permanently removing that amount of capacity from the aquifer forever, land settling, and so on.

    You know the phrase about having to destroy a village to save it? Same idea. As far as I know this is still the law there and maybe elsewhere. So if they measure the amount they have more legal pressure to destroy it, I think. Or something like that.

    I’ve never pretended to understand these people at all.

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