Quandary, the all-knowing Summit County mountain goat, talks shifting soil
Will the ground sink in summit because of the drought?
So you’ve probably noticed that California is getting a little lower in elevation every year. Well Chicken Little, it is not the drought that’s causing the ground to sink, but actually people’s reaction to the drought. Generally, a majority of water used for farming and other day-to-day uses comes from spring runoff and summer rains. When water doesn’t come from those sources, people still need to get it from somewhere and so they turn to using groundwater. Groundwater isn’t the little puddle Fido left behind on your walk this morning, but rather the good stuff found deep underground. According to an NBC report (yes, Quandary sometimes flips on the tube), California is expected to have to pull 75 percent of water from the groundwater supply this year. Unfortunately, this is not a well you can just keep going back to. Eventually, it does run out, and there can be complications from pulling too much too quickly.
California has run into problems because there are no policies on who is allowed to drill a well, and for the most part anyone can drill on their own property. This has meant that some people have six to seven wells, and continue to drill deeper and in more locations. As new wells go in, water is pulled from deeper pools and this creates an empty space in the aquifers. So what happens? Unfortunately, the ground will often sink and collapse the well once too much water is taken out. In California, the ground is sinking by an average of one foot per year as a result. The other real downer about this is it is an irreversible process; once the ground collapses it can’t be restored.
Luckily, in Summit we have found ourselves in one of the few bright spots, at least by drought standards. Spring runoff and storms here mean that we have generally stayed close to our average levels and have not had to turn to groundwater as rapidly or frequently. If the drought continues, this could become a bigger issue here, but at least for now, it appears we will keep our glorious altitude. So if you ever are looking at adding a well to your property just try to remember, one drink’s not worth the sink.
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