July 3, 2018
But why is “Part A” always ignored or understated?
Water quality in the Central Valley is a real problem and a recurring theme in the media. A recent story (Overpumping of Central Valley has side effect: too much arsenic) focused on the problem. The trouble is, usually one cause of the problem is overemphasized, and the other cause of the problem is underreported. In this article, groundwater pumping is mentioned 11 times as the cause of the problem, while the lack of surface water deliveries to the Central Valley, due to federal and state laws and regulations, is mentioned only once and not much of an explanation is provided.
To be clear, the laws and regulations restricting operation of the federal Central Valley Project have drastically reduced surface water deliveries to California communities and farms. As a result, communities and farms have been forced to pump groundwater (see graph below). To handle Part B of the problem, the state is implementing a major program, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The program promises to “halt overdraft and bring groundwater basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge.”
To permanently solve the problem and not only halt overdraft, but also recharge the underground aquifers, the government needs to solve Part A of the problem. A good start would be an acknowledgement that Part A is a problem. The water system needs to be operated as it was intended – a system to provide surface water to urban and rural communities throughout the state for residential and agricultural purposes.
So, to improve the quality and quantity of water, a good start would be for all involved to first agree on the FACTS.
It’s time for honesty in the very worthwhile debate about how YOUR water is being prioritized.