Posts Tagged: groundwater
Harter, a UC ANR specialist based at UC Davis, and co-author Laurel Firestone, shared their thoughts in an op-ed penned for The Guardian. Firestone is co-executive director of the Community Water Center in California, which helps disadvantaged communities gain access to clean, affordable water.
The authors wrote that state records with information needed to characterize groundwater aquifers are kept confidential under a 64-year-old law that considers them proprietary to well drillers. The well logs contain data that is public in every other state in the West and include details such as where wells are located, their depth, potential pumping rates, diameter and descriptions of the sediments and rocks the wells go through.
"The lack of information is a major impediment to stewardship of the resource," the op-ed says.
California State Senator Fran Pavley introduced Senate Bill 20 in December, which if passed will make well log data publicly available in California.
"Perhaps as more community and farm wells dry up this summer, the legislature will extend its enthusiasm for transparency to the critical information needed for more equitable and sustainable management of our groundwater," Garter and Firestone conclude.
"Some farmers are going to be having to cut back at least in the short run," said Doug Parker, director of the UC California Institute for Water Resources.
Thomas Harter, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis, predicted the farmers' successors will appreciate the coming regulations.
"In the long run, my view is that the next generation and two generations down of farmers will find this a lifesaver," Harter said.
The bills waiting for the governor's signature won't provide an instant fix, the story said. The law will take years to implement and it could take decades for the most depleted groundwater basins recover.
In most years, groundwater amounts to 30 to 45 percent of the state's water supply, but in dry periods, it increases to 60 percent. The new law will direct local public agencies to develop sustainable groundwater management plans. If they fail, the State Water Resources Control Board steps in. The legislation gives local basin managers the ability to:
- Collect fees from groundwater users
- Monitor withdrawals
- Limit pumping
- Buy water or water rights to replenish aquifers
The Association of California Water Agencies supports the new regulations; agricultural interests are opposed, the article says.
"We thought these bills were too far-reaching," said Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation.
According to the theory, individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, behave contrary to the whole group's long-term best interests by depleting some common resource. The result for California groundwater in this drought year has been reliance on groundwater to meet fully two-thirds of the state's urban and agricultural water needs.
"It's a significant concern because it's not a rate at which we can continue to use this resource," Harter said. "It's not sustainable."
Here & Now host Jeremy Hobson pointed out that California is the last Western state to regulate groundwater. Last week the California legislature sent three bills to Gov. Brown that would end a commonly held view in California that property owners have the right to draw as much groundwater as they want from wells on their property.
The lack of regulation and a continuing drought have resulted in severe overdraft of the state's aquifer. By studying the state's geology and measuring groundwater levels over decades, scientists know how much water is there, Harter said. Californians should not expect any new hidden reservoirs to be found.
"The best way I think we can address this is make information about the resource more available and let people know what happens to the resource, where (water) comes in and where it goes out, and involve the public on the decision-making on how we want to manage that resource," Harter said.
By itself, pump-and-fertilize won't be enough, said Thomas Harter, the lead author of the report, Addressing Nitrate in California's Drinking Water. It won't work in areas where there is too much salt in the groundwater, for example. Also, more fresh water must be allowed to seep into the underground aquifer. The fresh water will replace the tainted water and refill underground areas that have been overpumped in the past.
Dare to be different: Think beyond tomatoes, peppers
Laura Christman, Redding Record-Searchlight
When planning a summer garden, try some unusual vegetables, like heat-tolerant greens and odd tubers, the article suggests.
"Most people love tomatoes and a good sweet pepper, but that's not the be-all, end-all of summer nutritional health," said Sean Kriletich, a gardening expert with University of California Cooperative Extension Sierra Central.
Mixing things up in the garden yields different flavors, more nutrition, additional colors, textures and beneficial insects.Thomas Harter.
The results of Harter's research were outlined in a UC Davis press release distributed last week and picked up by the Sacramento Bee, an LA Times blog and other media outlets.
"Our next task is to determine whether these particular antibiotics are further degraded before reaching domestic and public water wells," Harter was quoted in the release.
California dairies typically give antibiotics to young cows, and to nonlactating adult cows. The news release said health officials are concerned that antibiotics could travel from manure lagoons into drinking water for people and livestock. Harter said that the health effects of antibiotics in drinking water at the low levels he detected are not known.
Harter's study was conducted at two large freestall dairy operations in the San Joaquin Valley with a total of more than 2,700 milking cows and 2,500 heifers. The research was published Aug. 10 in the American Chemical Society's online journal Environmental Science & Technology.