August 23, 2021

Hundreds of Wells Drying Amidst California’s Drought

Anthony Tilghman
Anthony Tilghman, is an 2x Award-winning photographer, Education advocate, Mentor, and Published Author with years of experience in media, photography, marketing and branding. He is the Winner of the 2020 & 2021 Dateline award for Excellence in Local Journalism.

During California’s previous historic drought, numerous households in the Central Valley ran out of water as their wells dried. A lot of water was drawn from underground, primarily by cultivators, that the soil sank, dropping up to two feet annually in portions of the San Joaquin Valley. Distraught, the California Legislature approved a slew of new rules in 2014 to halt the over-pumping. The Sustainable Management Groundwater Act (SGMA) authorized local groundwater entities in significantly over-drafted regions for 26 years- till 2040- to attain sustainability and mitigate the effects of overdraft. Those in charge of less drained water resources, such as those beneath Glenn County, have till 2042.

However, as expected, the drought struck considerably earlier than the regulations’ protective measures. Consequently, shadows of the previous drought can now be seen spouting from resident’s faucets and pounding via their empty pipes. Besides, pumping is practically uncontrolled, with few, if any, protocols in place. Around 2,700 wells throughout the state are expected to dry up this year, with an additional 1,000 expected to dry up next year if the drought persists. It appears as if we are in a very exact spot we were during the last drought,’ remarked Darcy Bostic, an analyst with the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank. ‘Even worse, we do not exactly have a new strategy for dealing with it.’

Seven years later, following the enaction of the groundwater law, nothing has really improved for Californians who depend on groundwater. Contrary to the previous drought when more dry wells were mostly concentrated in the San Joaquin Valley, Northern California is the worst hit today. Concerns of dry wells are intensifying and extending in several new regions, including Colusa, Tehama, and Glenn counties, rendering more people without drinking water.

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