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Environment

California Drought: NASA Says Land Sinking Faster In San Joaquin Valley

deltamendontacanal.jpg
Credit www.usbr.gov
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The Delta Mendota Canal

A new report from NASA shows the San Joaquin Valley is sinking much faster than ever before. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

With reduced surface water available because of the drought, more groundwater is pumped.

As the underground aquifers are tapped, land surfaces sink. 

While subsidence in California isn't new, the report from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the rate has accelerated.

Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin says the increased rate could damage bridges, roads and other infrastructure.

Cowin: "And what this NASA report underscores for us is the need for more near term measures to reduce the effects of over-pumping in the near term. If our current drought continues or drought returns in the near future, we don't believe we can sustain this kind of pumping and the effects that are occurring."

Cowin says the DWR is launching a $10 million program to help counties with stressed groundwater basins develop or strengthen conservation plans.

The report shows areas near the California Aqueduct sank more than 12-inches - eight of those inches during just four months last year.