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Extreme ag pumping threatens California’s main water artery

 •  by Lois Henry
Sections of the California Aqueduct that are suffering subsidence. Some areas have sunk up to 6 feet causing concerns about future water deliveries.

Heavy groundwater pumping to sustain a massive increase in orchards and vineyards in the San Joaquin Valley has brought the state’s main water artery to the brink of permanent damage, according to report released by the Department of Water Resources Dec. 31.

If groundwater pumping near the California Aqueduct continues at current levels through the next, inevitable drought, the land will sink further potentially resulting in “non-recoverable compaction and permanent land subsidence,” reducing the Aqueduct’s ability to deliver water, according to the report.

The most severe choke points appear to be at the southern end of the giant Westlands Water District east of Coalinga in Fresno County and in Kern County east of Lost Hills. The land has already sunk in those areas up to 6 and 4 feet, respectively.

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