The record-setting drought in California has lead to another disastrous consequence: excessive well drilling for more water permanently damages the earth. A new NASA report indicates that because of this, California is sinking.
According to the report, water pumping in California’s San Joaquin Valley has drawn levels so low that it’s causing the land to sink by nearly five centimeters a month in some places.
“In a few places, we are looking at about a foot a year, and in some places a little bit more than that,” said Michelle Sneed, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “That’s about as fast as ever been measured in the valley and it’s among the fast rates in the world.”
To drill or not to drill — that is the question faced by a growing number of farmers who lack water for their fields. They’re in a difficult situation: balancing the long-term health of their land on the one hand with the immediate needs of their crops and the market on the other.