Westâ€™s historic drought stokes fears of water crisis
J Thoendell stashed this in Food
Now, across Californiaâ€™s vital agricultural belt, nervousness over theÂ stateâ€™s epic droughtÂ has given way to alarm. Streams and lakes have long since shriveled up in many parts of the state, and now the aquifers â€” always a backup source during the regionâ€™s periodic droughts â€” are being pumped away at rates that scientists say are bothÂ historic and unsustainable.
One state-owned well near Sacramento registered an astonishing 100-foot drop in three months as the water table, strained by new demand from farmers, homeowners and municipalities, sank to a record low. Other wells have simply dried up, in such numbers that local drilling companies are reporting backlogs of six to eight months to dig a new one.
In still other areas, aquifers are emptying so quickly that theÂ land itself is subsiding, like cereal in a bowl after the milk has drained out.