Farm Use Draining Vital Aquifers

Agricultural production in California’s Central Valley could be threatening the existence of crucial California aquifers, threatening the continued productivity of the state’s agriculture industry.

Water usage has emerged as a major issue for American farmers in the last several years. In the eastern half of the United States, significant pollution of major waterways like the Chesapeake Bay, the Mississippi River, and the Great Lakes, has threatened several major agricultural industries. In the West and Southwest, periodic droughts have exacerbated arid conditions, drying up waterways and draining aquifers.

A recently released study by scientists from the University of Texas suggests that large aquifers in the Central Valley, currently irrigating the region’s many farms and fueling its agricultural production, could be fast on their way to becoming endangered. Between 2006-2009, farmers in the Central Valley used enough groundwater to fill Lake Mead. At this rate, scientists estimate that aquifers could be emptied with 50-100 years.

The ongoing drought has only exacerbated these problems. The overall lack of rainfall has led to more and more farmers relying on increasingly stressed aquifers, speeding up the exhaustion of vital water resources. Unless California begins to serious commit to new water management strategies, the report suggests, California farmers could be facing a barren future.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer