California’s historic sinking is starting to hit home – literally.
CBS News San Francisco Bay Area recently visited homeowners in California’s El Nido region whose homes are beginning to sink and crack.
Some affected homeowners were caught off guard, but water scientists predicted this was on the way, and it is expected to get worse throughout the summer. A Reveal story last month found that scientists believe California is sinking at a record rate due to excessive groundwater use during the current drought, now in its fourth year.
Claudia Faunt, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said she started calling businesses and state agencies such as the Department of Transportation more than a year ago to warn about worsening damage from what scientists call subsidence, but was rebuffed.
“They go to repair the roads, but they don’t even know it’s subsidence that is causing all the problems,” Faunt said. “They are having to fix a lot because of groundwater depletion.”
Expensive damage from subsidence occurred as recently as the early 1990s in places such as San Luis Obispo, but this drought has the potential to damage a far greater area, given the worsening depletion of groundwater.
California officials are facing criticism for not monitoring excessive groundwater use and the resulting damage it causes. This week, the California Department of Food and Agriculture announced it will hold a meeting Tuesday in Sacramento to discuss groundwater management and agricultural land trends. A change in how agricultural lands are used, namely the growing trend of planting more water-intensive crops in arid regions such as the San Joaquin Valley, is why scientists believe excessive groundwater pumping began increasing even before the drought started. A live video feed of Tuesday’s meeting will be available.
This story was edited by Robert Salladay and copy edited by Nikki Frick.