Large section of California sinks as aquifers are depleted

Jan. 6, 2014

FIREBAUGH, Calif. — Droughts have prompted faster pumping, causing the ground to sink two feet in two years.

FIREBAUGH, Calif. — Drought conditions in California have prompted farmers to pump groundwater at a faster rate, causing the ground in Central Valley near the San Joaquin River to sink dramatically, according to an article by E&E Publishing LLC.

Research by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that 1,200 square miles of land in a bowl shape around the river has sunk one foot per year from 2008 to 2010, the article reported.

The sinking area includes five towns, part of the river and a network of irrigation and flood control canals, noted the article.

"We'd largely stopped measuring subsidence about 30 years ago because it wasn't a problem anymore," hydrologist Michelle Sneed said. "We were really surprised about the large size of the area and the high rate of subsidence measured as part of the recent study."

Problems caused by the sinking include buckled concrete liners in the Delta-Mendota Canal and possible delays to river restoration projects, the article reported.

Read the full article here.