An old wind-driven pump that tapped groundwater on a California ranch. Photo: Steven Frame)
As the warm temperatures melt California’s meager snowpack, turning rivers into streams and streams into mere trickles, communities and farmers across the state will be increasingly turning to groundwater to meet customer demand and to keep crops and livestock alive. But there’s a problem: Many will be drawing from aquifers already depleted and long under stress as groundwater levels in many basins across the state are reportedly at historic lows.
Millerton Lake in Fresno County formed by the Friant Dam. Photo: K.J. Kolb
Nearly all California voters (88%) believe the state is undergoing a serious water shortage. However, there is no clear consensus about whether the situation is due more to a lack of water storage and supply facilities in the state, or users not using existing supplies efficiently enough. Statewide, 27% cite the former, 37% the latter and another 24% say both are equally responsible.