Groundwater depletion threatens food security in California and Texas

May 29, 2012CALIFORNIA – The nation’s food supply may be vulnerable to rapid groundwater depletion from irrigated agriculture, according to a new study by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere. The study, which appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, paints the highest resolution picture yet of how groundwater depletion varies across space and time in California’s Central Valley and the High Plains of the central U.S. Researchers hope this information will enable more sustainable use of water in these areas, although they think irrigated agriculture may be unsustainable in some parts. “We’re already seeing changes in both areas,” said Bridget Scanlon, senior research scientist at The University of Texas at Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology and lead author of the study. “We’re seeing decreases in rural populations in the High Plains. Increasing urbanization is replacing farms in the Central Valley. And during droughts some farmers are forced to fallow their land. These trends will only accelerate as water scarcity issues become more severe.” Three results of the new study are particularly striking: First, during the most recent drought in California’s Central Valley, from 2006 to 2009, farmers in the south depleted enough groundwater to fill the nation’s largest human-made reservoir, Lake Mead near Las Vegas — a level of groundwater depletion that is unsustainable at current recharge rates. Second, a third of the groundwater depletion in the High Plains occurs in just 4% of the land area. And third, the researchers project that if current trends continue some parts of the southern High Plains that currently support irrigated agriculture, mostly in the Texas Panhandle and western Kansas, will be unable to do so within a few decades. California’s Central Valley is sometimes called the nation’s “fruit and vegetable basket.” The High Plains, which run from northwest Texas to southern Wyoming and South Dakota, are sometimes called the country’s “grain basket.” Combined, these two regions produced agricultural products worth $56 billion in 2007, accounting for much of the nation’s food production. They also account for half of all groundwater depletion in the U.S., mainly as a result of irrigating crops. –Science Daily
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10 Responses to Groundwater depletion threatens food security in California and Texas

  1. Carol says:

    This article makes no mention of the millions of gallons of ground water that is currently being depleted due to fracking. It’s happening right before our eyes, in cities all around us. I even read an article where the company, who shall remain nameless, stole ground water from one city’s water supply and then just offered to pay for it after the fact, fines & all! What good is the money when the water’s all gone! If I’m wrong about any of this please, someone set me straight.

    Like

    • ONTHEMARK55 says:

      It’s financially profitable to pay for the water and fines,if any, after the fact. Business as we know it today operates under one premise, one premise only, does it make fiscual sense? Until Criminal charges are brought ot bear for breaking the law/rules, nothing will change. “It’s not my fault, i have a responsibility to the shareholders!”

      Like

  2. Texas Listening Post, Tony says:

    I live on the High Plains of Texas and this is a harsh reality everyday. Lake Meredith North of Amarillo was pumped down to the level it cannot supply water to the seven cities who are the users of the water. For the past five years the water authority has been pumping ground water to replace the water Lake Meredith provided. This just adds to the depletion of the ground water supply. Amarillo a city of about 167,000 people does not have a comprehensive water conservation program. Life goes on as usual until the wells cannot supply water, then maybe we should do something! The Canadian River Municipal Water Authority (CRMWA) tells everyone we have 200 years supply of water. No one with any wisdom will believe that story. The ground water will be reduced to such a low level that irrigated agricultural will have disappeared long before 200 years and the people with it. The local leaders are afraid to impose the necessary water conservation measures because it might hurt some local business. Even through the extreme drought last year things where as usual, no public water conservation measures taken.

    This will be an example a city and region that did not act soon enough.

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    • nickk0 says:

      “The local leaders are afraid to impose the necessary water conservation measures because it might hurt some local business. Even through the extreme drought last year things where as usual, no public water conservation measures taken.”

      This sums up the current economic environment of the US.

      They will simply use up all the water, until it is GONE, and then tell the residents and businesses that they’ll simply have to re-locate to greener pastures and better areas. ( Where ?? )
      But HEY, don’t worry – It’s the magic of the ‘free market’ at work ! USE IT ALL UP until it is ALL GONE !! :x Too bad for future generations….. It’s not our fault, that they’ll just have to ‘miss the bus’.

      Like

  3. Sam Beckett says:

    This is real, I live here in the Cental Valley in California, near Tulare. In fact that picture above looks like it is from where I live.

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  4. missmarla says:

    Former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry (CA’s “water shortage” spokesman) used altered records and backed up perjury to deny the central valley’s 50+ yr water scam. According to his accomplice, Wilbert Swieso, the water is being secretly re-directed for upcoming MAJOR development projects i.e., gambling communities. From what I understand, CA will become the next Las Vegas!

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  5. K says:

    I saw a documentary called Blue Gold: World Water Wars 2008 watch it if you haven’t, very eye-opening. It looks at how we are using up water faster than it can be replenished through natural systems – we are mining as much as 15 times more groundwater than is being replenished, at the rate of 30 billion gallons a day. Also how we are polluting it beyond use, destroying wetlands that are nattual fitlers, etc. it very depressing but it is the truth and it’s whats happening and has been happening. God Bless

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  6. John K says:

    Only after the last tree has been cut down.
    Only after the last river has been poisoned.
    Only after the last fish has been caught.
    Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.
    Cree Indian Prophecy.

    God has told us that; “All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again”. Eccl. 1:7,

    When will we all learn? God bless.

    Like

    • atterro says:

      We humans can learn. Those in power however never do. Money is addictive but not to everyone. And people with such addiction produce more addiction. They NEED to have more, no matter what. Much like a drug addict. When you watch a drug addict keep taking these drugs even though it’s killing him, and he knows it. He still cannot stop untill someone helps him!

      That’s the case with people in power, which is another proof, why money was a bad system to lead civilization with it embraces greed, corruption and we’ve been watching it happen and did nothing about it. This is what we have come to. Problem is, so many people cannot wake up.

      Wars, death, poverty, famine, disease, do not fit into description of ”Advanced Civilization” because ‘*Advanced Civilization* has non of those issues.

      There was this speach after 9/11 – ”War on Terror” excuse me? ”Terror”? As far as i know, political term is *Terrorists* or *Terrorism* What’s Terror?

      Ha! *Terra* is a latin word for *Earth* So is this *War on Earth*? Well look out side your window, it pretty much is, and it was planned!

      Why was it planned? To controle the mass and earn profit, even if it means the destruction, because their addiction and greed, has no boundaries, and they don’t care about the human race because they have no empathy. No empathy as i mentioned somewhere ellse, is proven to be a brain damage!

      Like

  7. john says:

    wow just 2 years ago they stopped the irrigated water in california to save a bunch of minnows but how quickly everyone forgets. more propaganda if you ask me. Pushing for climate change that they created. Kind of like the food shortages they will be announcing shortly. they pay farmers not to grow food and then tell you its climate change why there is no food. Newsflash people climates change and have done so for millions of years on this planet. Just ask the mastadons found frozen in ice perfectly perserved with the tropical plants in their mouths meaning it happened before the people were even here. Meaning it happens and no place stays the same. Climate change is nothing more than a trick to get you to agree that they need to tax the hell out of you and nothing more. Its the only way they can keep on living their lives of royality on the backs of the real workers of the world.

    Like

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