Groundwater issues spread far beyond California. The article, “Farmers Propose Novel Solution to Fight Over Groundwater in Nevada” written by David Rothberg outlines the frustrations of state regulators and its rural community to choose a path of solution for the groundwater crisis in Diamond Valley.
Diamond Valley in rural Nevada has a critically overdrafted aquifer that supports a large farming economy. The community is divided on how to manage the crisis. In Eureka County, Jake Tibbitts oversees the county’s Natural Resources Department where he has been working to find solutions to manage the overdrafted aquifer. We’ve seen it before – for decades state regulators have let irrigators in Diamond Valley pump more groundwater than the basin could replenish.
“As agricultural operations became a thriving part of the county’s economy, Diamond Valley farmers brought jobs and revenue to the county as they exported alfalfa to countries as far away as China and Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the state had given farmers the legal right to use more than four times the amount of water than the basin was able to sustain. As a result, stream flows started to slow and, since the 1960s, the groundwater levels have dropped 2ft or more a year.”
A lack of regulation and deep infiltration systems has caused places like Diamond Valley to think in a reactive manner. The valley will ultimately need to choose a path: mandatory limitations to groundwater pumping or a groundwater market where water rights are converted into tradable shares. A community divided between immediate action and long-term regulations
Sadler Ranch was developed in the late 1800s by Reinhold Sadler, Nevada’s ninth governor, and the ranch’s water rights predate water law.
“With pre-statutory rights, Sadler is one of several ranches with first priority to water in the valley, but years of overpumping have decreased streamflows and its access to water. Since 2012, Sadler has taken legal action to restore its pre-1905 rights, most recently asking a court to halt pumping for junior rights holders. Other ranches with surface water have filed claims to restore the stream flow lost to pumping, too, and it has put a wrinkle in plans for a market.”
Our country relies on the agriculture community’s ability to maintain their businesses. Water is earth’s most valuable resource and if areas like Diamond Valley treat this resource in a reactive manner, instead of proactively planning for conservation, the water wars will continue.
MaxWell® drywells appear on many projects in Southern California that are increasing the capacity for aquifer recharge. Today we use MaxWell drywells to manage stormwater as a resource, provide flood control, prevent downstream flooding, improve water quality, and promote groundwater recharge.