CA's depleting groundwater in key agricultural region could be a warning sign for AZ

Published: Monday, January 23, 2023 - 3:02pm
Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2023 - 8:18am

A recent report showed that there is not enough groundwater in a sub-basin surrounding Buckeye to provide the area with a 100-year supply.

That could be a trend seen across the West as a study from ASU found that California’s megadrought has excellent groundwater depletion.

California’s Central Valley covers 20,000 square miles and is a vast agricultural region with a value of approximately $17 billion per year in crops. 

Agricultural drain, combined with drought and poor water management has led to an accelerating rate of groundwater depletion. 

The region lost enough groundwater to fill Lake Mead, and half of another one in the last 18 years.

Study author Jay Famiglietti with ASU says this could be a warning sign for Arizona and the western United States. 

“I think that we have overtaxed our groundwater resources. We’ve done that without any real knowledge of how much groundwater is actually there. You know I think we’ve been writing checks that are eventually going to be blank checks," He said. 

Famiglietti added that groundwater decisions made Monday will impact Phoenix and other desert cities’ ability to adapt to climate change. 

"We basically over allocated the water that’s available to us on the surface. So our survival, especially in the West, really depends on how we manage and protect our groundwater," he said. 

Famiglietti said it is key to understand how groundwater availability is changing in order to deal with climate change and economic growth.