California’s largest agricultural region, the San Joaquin Valley, is facing numerous challenges to its groundwater supply, including overdraft and contamination, according to a new study that explores threats to overall sustainability in the region.
California’s most recent drought started in 2010, and since then, an estimated 147 million trees have died from the dry conditions and bark beetle infestations, a federal count shows.
Because of excessive groundwater extraction, subsidence—the sinking or settling of the ground’s surface—is dragging rural Yolo and Colusa counties in California downward.
The federal government has asked the governors of seven Western states that draw water from the Colorado River to finally draft a drought contingency plan. This follows an earlier order to do so, but California and Arizona have been unable to complete the task.
Insecure supplies and water contamination in disadvantaged rural communities are particularly threatening in times of drought, according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).