California’s Drought: Groundwater at Risk

GroundwaterU Video Summary

This video includes interviews with farmers and drillers, who describe first hand how groundwater has become an unsustainable resource and how there is an agricultural crises. Without surface water available for agriculture and aquifer recharge, and given the continued reliance on groundwater pumping, the aquifers are being depleted and desertification is occurring.

The agricultural industry uses eighty percent of the California’s water. In the past, farmers in the Central Valley relied on surface water to irrigate, but surface water has dried up, leaving groundwater pumping as the only option. A well driller is interviewed and describes the need to drill deeper than existing wells in order to access groundwater. His business has seven drill rigs and all seven of them are booked up for at least a year. Many of the wells are being drilled because existing wells are no longer deep enough to access groundwater; water levels continue to decline leading to aquifer depletion. Whereas 800 ft was considered a deep well in the past, wells as deep as 1,200 ft are not uncommon now, and these wells cost nearly $400,000. Groundwater use is poorly regulated, leaving each farmer to pump as they wish, leading to social and economic problems in the long run.

Farmers fear that with continued over-pumping and lack of surface water to use and to recharge the aquifer (aquifer recharge), the area will become the desert it used to be.

About this Video

Video Creator: Tim Pool, Valerie Bischoff
Recommended/Summary by: Andrew Cohen
Curated by GroundwaterU on: 01/20/2022

Video Language: English
Video Category: Policy/Legal, Science/Engineering
Multimedia Type: Film/Pictures
Presentation Style: Other
Technical Level: Beginner