Groundwater: Not so panacea after all

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Graphic by the New York Times: http://nyti.ms/1q0D95F.

Groundwater is showing up more and more in US headlines.  Here are two news stories that caught my eye with interesting parallels to current (or future?) groundwater regulation in Michigan.  First up, radical new groundwater regulation in California: “Radical” in that there will soon be groundwater regulation in California.  No more “drill, baby, drill” (for water, that is).  The on-going three year drought in the state has farmers rushing to put in new, deeper wells to pump groundwater.  More pumping means subsidence (sinking land), shallow wells going dry, and saltwater intrusion in coastal aquifers.  But the new package of three 3 bills (passed in the state senate on Aug. 29 & now under review by Gov. Jerry Brown) gives local authorities the responsibility to manage groundwater basins sustainably and if unable to do so, the state has the power to step in.  Read more in The New York Times, Reuters, and WaterOnline.com.

Second, this Texas Tribune article (via the New York Times) article follows the struggle for water in central Texas.  As reservoirs dry up from drought, developers look to groundwater to support growing populations around Austin and San Antonio.   But the groundwater lies below rural areas in another part of Central Texas.  What would be proper compensation to the people, some of whom are farmers, for the loss of the use of this groundwater?  Would simply deepening their wells suffice?  Despite the growing demand for hydrogeological modeling and information about withdrawal impacts, research funding for this is hard to find and state water planning agency staff positions have been cut in half.  Read the full article:  http://nyti.ms/1upLKQu.

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