On the implications of pumping California dry

So what if we pump California’s Central Valley aquifers to empty? On The Public Record twiddles on the back of an envelope:

Before this report, my rough feel was that about one million acres of irrigated lands in CA are supported by unsustainable groundwater withdrawals. If overdraft is 10 MAF/year in the Central Valley, it makes me think my prediction of a loss of 3 million acres of irrigated ag is conservative, rather than the wild-eyed provocation one finds on blogs these days.

I’ve no idea if the number is right, but the order of magnitude seems reasonable, and it’s clearly Big Number of acres that are unsustainable, however off the calculation is and in whichever direction the error is to be found.


  1. Eh, probably they’ll salt up first, so no problem, right? 🙁

    Eli, IIRC the cities use too little water to affect the basic problem.

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