Cal­i­for­nia land sink­ing faster due to drought

Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT -

A NASA re­port has re­vealed that land in Cal­i­for­nia's San Joaquin Val­ley is sink­ing faster than ever due to con­tin­u­ing drought in the state. Land in the US state, which faces the fifth con­sec­u­tive year of drought, has grad­u­ally sunk over the years be­cause of ex­ces­sive ground­wa­ter ex­trac­tion. But this year, be­cause of in­creased pump­ing, ground­wa­ter lev­els have reached record lows—up to 0.3 me­tre lower than the pre­vi­ous year—and the land is sink­ing more rapidly. This has put nearby in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing aque­ducts, bridges, roads, flood con­trol struc­tures, at greater risk, said Mark Cowin, di­rec­tor at the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Wa­ter Re­sources. Over time, it can also per­ma­nently re­duce the wa­ter stor­age ca­pac­ity of un­der­ground lay­ers. "Land near Cor­co­ran in the Tu­lare basin sank 33 cm in just eight months. One area in the Sacra­mento Val­ley was sink­ing at 1.27 cm per month, faster than the pre­vi­ous mea­sure­ments," says the NASA re­port.

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