Red Alert for California Aquifers
So here’s the back-story, in case you don’t give a damn about dams:
Shared by seven states and Mexico, the Colorado Basin provides about 40 million Americans with a portion of their drinking water and irrigates up to 5.5 million acres. It is home to endangered species and supports about $1.4 trillion in economic activity. Because of record-high temperatures and a drying climate, the basin is also dangerously close to being parched: Lake Mead, which is just 36 percent full, is in poor health. So is Lake Powell, located upstream and only 34 percent full.
The front-story is more scary:
California’s Central Valley—one of the richest agricultural regions in the world—is sinking. During a recent intense drought, from 2012 to 2016, parts of the valley sank as much as 60 centimeters per year. “It isn’t like an earthquake; it doesn’t happen, boom,” says Claudia Faunt, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. But it is evidence of a slow-motion disaster, the result of the region’s insatiabl…