Farmers Are Sucking the Water Table Dry



California agribusiness has depleted Central Valley aquifers to dangerously low levels in the past few years, according to satellite data from NASA. The Chron reports that drainage basins in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys have lost an astounding 7.9 trillion gallons of water since 2003. Farmers say they’ve had to suck that much water out of the ground because of restrictions on water use from the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. But environmentalists say agribusiness wastes huge amounts of water by growing water-intensive crops in desert-like conditions.

The massive loss of water could lead to widespread subsidence of land throughout the Central Valley unless it's stopped. However, California is only one of a few states that doesn’t require well owners to account for how much water they use. And the statewide water pact recently reached by the governor and the Legislature contains no binding regulations on groundwater usage.