Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

We inspire and partner with our community to protect the natural resources and agricultural future of our District.


Nine sobering facts about California’s groundwater problem

Joseph Poland of the U.S. Geological Survey used a utility pole to document where a farmer would have been standing in 1925, 1955 and where Poland was then standing in 1977 after land in the San Joaquin Valley had sunk nearly 30 feet.

With an alarmingly dry winter and California reservoirs dropping fast, groundwater increasingly is keeping the state hydrated. It now accounts for about 60 percent of California’s water supply. But unlike its rivers, lakes and reservoirs, the state does not consider groundwater part of the public good. It does not regulate groundwater like it does surface water. Landowners can pump as much water as they want.

So for nearly a century, Californians have drained an incredible amount of water from the ground to grow crops and water landscaping. It is not sustainable. The water has not returned. The result is a sinking state. Here are some startling facts about California’s groundwater depletion:

1. Californians drained about 125 million acre-feet of groundwater (about 41 trillion gallons) from the Central Valley between 1920 and 2013, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That’s the equivalent of draining about a third of Lake Erie or, put another way, enough fresh water to provide every person on Earth with a 30-year supply of drinking water. Unfortunately, this reliance on groundwater seems to be worsening. The rate of aquifer depletion experienced during the past decade is more than double the historic average

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Source:  Nathan Halverson, Reveal, June 25, 2015


What California can learn from Saudi Arabia’s water mystery

A decade ago, reports began emerging of a strange occurrence in the Saudi Arabian desert. Ancient desert springs were drying up.

The springs fed the lush oases depicted in the Bible and Quran, and as the water disappeared, these verdant gardens of life were returning to sand.

“I remember flowing springs when I was a boy in the Eastern Province. Now all of these have dried up,” the head of the country’s Ministry of Water told The New York Times in 2003.

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Source:  Nathan Halverson, Reveal, April 22, 2015


We’re running out of water, and the world’s powers are very worried

Secret conversations between American diplomats show how a growing water crisis in the Middle East destabilized the region, helping spark civil wars in Syria and Yemen, and how those water shortages are spreading to the United States.

Classified U.S. cables reviewed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting show a mounting concern by global political and business leaders that water shortages could spark unrest across the world, with dire consequences.

Many of the cables read like diary entries from an apocalyptic sci-fi novel.

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Source:  Nathan Halverson, Reveal, April 11, 2016