Hard to think about water shortages here in western Oregon today - here is a current picture of my yard as the snow is coming down - perhaps as much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) in the mid-Willamette Valley. For us, that amount will shut the place down and make Atlanta seem like Boston when it comes to managing snow. Oregon State University is closed today. I have an inquiry from a reporter to discuss the California drought. I called her back but no return yet; I guess she found someone else. So it's time to move on to the title of this post.
I've gone on (and on...and on...) about the lack of regulation and statewide oversight of California's groundwater (my two most recent posts are 24 November 2013 and 10 September 2013). I focus on the Central Valley because of its subsidence and sustainability issues.
But there is some management of California groundwater by local agencies/ordinances or adjudication by court decree. Why, there is even a section on groundwater management on the DWR WWW site! What has prompted this post is my curiosity about California's adjudicated groundwater basins. There are 22 (or 23) of them.
Here is a DWR pub Adjudicated Groundwater Basins that is a few years old:
A map of the basins:
Two recently-adjudicated basins are not shown on the map: the Santa Maria Valley Basin and the San Jacinto Basin. Both of these are in Southern California, where virtually all these basins are except the Scott River basin.
Interesting fact from the publication alluded to above:
The basin boundaries are defined by the court. Some boundaries do not include the entire basin as defined in Department of Water Resources Bulletin 118, California's Groundwater.
Huh? That's what happens when judges and lawyers decide boundaries. Not good, folks, not good at all.
Another interesting fact: no adjudicated basins are in the Central Valley, where irrigators are now turning on the groundwater pumps to supplant meager surface water supplies because of the drought. This is the region where land subsidence has reared its ugly head again, where it has been known for about 75 years.
What this means is that subsidence and unsustainbable pumping will be exacerbated by the drought because irrigators, unregulated and unmanaged by the state, will pump more groundwater. Why? Because they can.
Adjudicated basins? They might not help the Central Valley. What is needed there is valley-wide groundwater management and oversight, with groundwater basin boundaries discerned by hydrogeology, not political or legal considerations.
"Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment." - Unknown