20 September 2009

Water Flowing Underground

In response to EBMUD's plan to store water in San Joaquin country (see page 3-26 in this report [pdf]), KE says:
Here in rural Amador County, people went crazy a few years ago when they heard the county might pass an ordinance to measure groundwater use and prevent its offsite transfer.

I suggested to our county supervisors that as part of developing a new general plan, they study the fractured-rock aquifers on which so many rural residents depend. Good to know where the water is and how old (and whether it's being replenished) as you figure out land use densities, right? But oh no -- groundwater use is a sacred property right.

EBMUD wants to stick water in the aquifer in San Joaquin County and just hope it might be there in a dry year. SJ has no gw monitoring or pumping limits and is in chronic annual overdraft. To pull out a metaphor from Dr. John Suen, of Fresno State (fractured rock aquifer study guy), EBMUD's plan is like putting your money into a bank account while a number of people write unlimited checks on it.
KE has a good point: It's all good to store water underground, but you've got to know the structure of the basin that will do the storing (assuming you want it back).

Bottom Line: A paper thin plan may not be worth much. It takes time to turn a good idea ("store water underground!") into a working one ("get it back!"

1 comment:

  1. San Joaquin's underground aquifer is not like the fractured rock aquifer in the Sierra foothills -- it's a sand-and-gravel aquifer. My main point relating to EBMUD is that without groundwater monitoring or limits in San Joaquin County, storing water underground there is beyond foolish. Without controls, farmers are free to continue overdrafting the aquifer they way they do today. But I agree with your bottom line.

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