Drought special part 3. Deep deficit


Onto the third article of the recent drought juggernaut in Science. Today I’m featuring Deep deficit by staff writer Erik Stokstad.

Now, in a wet year, about 40% of the water used in [California] comes out of the ground; during a drought, the proportion swells to 60%.

A compelling statistic for a compelling article.

Stokstad offers a super accessible introduction to the groundwater issues facing California, as well the measures being taken to halt long-term depletion of aquifers. The article also touches on the history of water development in California, and I always recommend the book Cadillac Desert for a swashbuckling tale of water resources development in California and the American West (there’s also a tv series available on YouTube, but I haven’t seen it and can’t vouch for it).

Deep Deficit provides a useful summary of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and the human ingenuity emerging in response to new depletion targets. Innovation is apparent in the science of aquifer recharge, including techniques for identifying sweet spots where aquifers most amenable to water entry, and finding suitanble materials for removal of stormwater contaminants at the point of recharge.

The article ends with an interesting quote from Graham Fogg of UC Davis:

“Civilization has never been very successful at controlling water demand”

This seems like a truism, but I’m not so sure. I wonder what research there is on successful cases of water demand control around the world and throughout history.