Surface water diversions in California’s Central Valley can be estimated based on readily available climate data, say researchers—a boon to efforts to track groundwater use.

Valley groundwater pumping is calculated as the total water demand minus surface water deliveries. However, today’s water model relies on individually reported diversions across the entire valley, and compiling all these data is a slow process; by the time the numbers are crunched, assessments of groundwater use are already outdated. “It can take years,” says Jordan Goodrich of University of Waikato in New Zealand. “It’s one of the biggest problems we face in tracking the Central Valley water budget.” Overdrafting groundwater can cause subsidence, permanently reducing the storage capacity of aquifers as well as jeopardizing above-ground infrastructure that delivers water and controls flooding. In the March 2020 issue of San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, Goodrich and colleagues at Scripps...
Read More