In California, another aquifer turns the corner

Ian James on new work by USGS researcher Michelle Sneed on the aquifer beneath the Coachella Valley, west of California’s Salton Sea:

Since 2010, she said, groundwater levels have either stabilized or risen in many parts of the valley, in large part due to replenishment of the aquifer at percolation ponds.

“Every well I’ve looked at, this is the story: Either water levels are coming back up or the water level declines have slowed down,” said Sneed, who spoke during a water forum Tuesday at the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert campus.

Sneed, whose latest research has yet to be published, said that while the ground has continued sinking in parts of the valley, the ground level has stabilized in many areas. And in some places, she said, the land surface has risen as imported water has seeped underground to replenish the aquifer.

Sneed has also documented how the ground is rapidly sinking in parts of the San Joaquin Valley, and she said she rarely has an opportunity to present good news about land subsidence.