You could fill Shasta Lake 7 times with farm groundwater pumped during state drought

You could fill Shasta Lake 7 times with farm groundwater pumped during state drought.
Central Valley farmers pumped enough groundwater to fill an empty Shasta Lake seven times in order to keep their profitable orchards alive during California’s epic five-year drought.
Wade said they’re also diligently preparing to comply with the state’s pending groundwater laws when they start to take effect three years from now.
To estimate pumping rates during the two droughts that struck the state in the past decade, the researchers used NASA satellite data and “water-balance estimates,” which take into account how much water crops need during at temperatures, as well as rainfall, snowmelt and soil-moisture capacity.
In the first drought, the researchers estimated farmers pumped 16.5 cubic kilometers of water.
In the more severe drought, they pumped 40 cubic kilometers, according to the study published in Geophysical Research Letters.
Much of the the past 17 years has been dry with only a few wet winters in between, so the wet winter California just experienced only goes so far to recharge the state’s groundwater deficit, said Thomas Harter, a groundwater expert with the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.
We would need many more above average to wet winters to make up what we’ve lost.” Meanwhile, an increase in pumping has exacerbated a number of problems in the Central Valley.
The findings come on the heels of a Sacramento Bee investigation published last summer that revealed new wells were going in faster and deeper than ever during the drought in California’s southern Central Valley farmbelt.
By one estimate, about 30 percent of the communities in Tulare County had problems with failing wells during the drought.

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