California’s Central Valley, according to researchers, is in a “perfect storm,” whereby drought years, rising temperatures and subsiding clay are causing the ground to collapse. The region’s groundwater has been largely depleted after the state’s $50 billion agricultural industry resorted to pumping during the drought.
The United Nations has released a sweeping report that outlines gross inequities across the globe, whereby more than two billion people do not have clean drinking water, and more than four billion lack reliable sanitation infrastructure.
Although the U.S. federal government has monitored the country’s groundwater for the last 30 years, scientists say that only now can they begin to understand long-term pollution in the largest aquifers. The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Quality Assessment says concentrations of chloride and sodium are on the increase, and in California, nitrate levels are climbing, according to Circle of Blue.
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.
In a state still suffering under drought conditions, recent winter storms in California’s Sierra Nevada have given meteorologists reason for cautious optimism.